First, we should define what a “smoothie” is so we will all know what we’re talking about. Interestingly enough, according to Dictionary.com, the first definition is: “a person who has a winningly polished manner”. I don’t think that’s what we need to be talking about do you?
Fortunately, the second definition is: “a thick beverage of fruit pureed in a blender with ice and milk, yogurt, or juice”. Now that is much better!
Now that we have that out of the way, lets start with a bit of history. Don’t worry, there’s no test at the end!
There is general agreement that the mix of fruit, fruit juice and ice started to became popular beginning in the 1960s. Although the term “smoothie: was used as far back as the 1930s, the beverage itself doesn’t seem to have appeared until the mid 1960s. Many believe that the counter-culture (Hippies!) of the time caused the popularity because of their interest in vegetarianism.
Since then, smoothies have contained to gain in popularity until they have become the dietary staple we are familiar with today.
Fruit Smoothie Nutrition
Without question the primary reason that smoothies are so popular is because they are so very versatile at adding very nutritious stuff to our diets without making us think we are “dieting”. For an example, take a closer look at this very basic strawberry banana smoothie recipe:
1 cup fresh strawberries
3 tbsp. honey
1 cup vanilla no fat yogurt
Ice to taste
Sounds good doesn’t it? It is and that is the point! This simple, 5 ingredient smoothie contains 2 fruits, natural sweetener, and a very healthy yogurt. And if you freeze the banana beforehand you probably won’t even need the ice. Even better, I challenge anyone to prepare and eat this smoothie without being satisfied.
Nutritionally this recipe provides:
50 calories, Dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Manganese, Potassium
200 calories, Dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Manganese, Potassium, Vitamin B6
150 calories, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Vitamin B12
180 calories, no calories from fat, no trans fat, no cholesterol
If you are seriously dieting, or just watching what you eat I think that a mid day meal, or afternoon snack with less than 600 calories and a lot of nutrition is a much better choice than a burger and fries, or a fancy coffee and a candy bar. Plus, you are putting two servings of fruit in your body at the same time. Too many calories? Substitute a no or low calorie sweetener such as Stevia for the honey.
Mixed Vegetable and Fruit Smoothies
Many vegetables also lend themselves to producing very tasty, and very healthy, smoothies. As an example, look at this recipe:
head of romaine lettuce
3 oranges, peeled
4 cups water, filtered is best
Not a combination that you would immediately think of but it is really very good. Very low in calories and very high in nutrition. Some folks have a problem with leafy veggies in anything but a BLT sandwich or a salad but lettuce, spinach, and kale all go wonderfully in mixed fruit and vegetable smoothies.
Pure Veggie Smoothies
For those who are truly green, there are a large number of smoothie recipes that use only veggies and no fruit at all. Very often these recipes are created by people who are very serious about what they eat and spend a lot of time researching exactly what they plan to eat and how it will affect them.
Here is a very good example:
2 tomatoes, chopped then frozen
1 cup tomato juice
juice from 1/2 lemon
3 basil leaves
See? Not a hint of fruit anywhere in this mix yet it is surprisingly good.
So it doesn’t matter a bit if you prefer fruit, vegetables, or a combination of the two, the healthy smoothie provides a quick and effective method to add them to your daily diet.
To be able to make smoothies, you will obviously need a blender. I have never recommended one brand over another simply because I haven’t tried them all. I do think that you will need to purchase a more robust blender to successfully blend frozen foods (bananas, etc.). Many owners have complained that the low end, less expensive units can have a lot of trouble slicing up and mixing frozen stuff. That being said, I don’t think you have to take a second mortgage on the house to buy the top of the line product either. Do some homework and I am sure you will find a mid priced blender that will be able to handle everything you ask it to do.
In the end, the correct answer to the question “why smoothies?” is “Why Not?”. As you can see, there is a very large and wonderful world of smoothie ingredients to be had that are much better for your waistline and your health than the burger and fries joint, pizza, or any of the other high cholesterol, high calorie, low nutrition foods many of us are used to eating.
Adding smoothies to your family is also a great way to do your part against childhood obesity. Plus, making smoothies is a fun and (relatively) painless way to begin to teach your kids how to cook. What’s not to like here?
The only drawback to smoothies that I have ever been able to come up with is that the purchasing of ingredients and the actual time creating them does take some pre-planning. If, like me, you are a bit organizationally challenged, this can be a bit hard to get used to but the results are well worth it.
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Yours in Good Health!