Hungry? Tired? Sore? I’ve got just the smoothie for you…

A few years ago the Smoothie was King of Liquid Food Land, but recently it’s been knocked off its perch due to complaints of excessive sugar. But if we’re cautious about what goes in them, smoothies can still be convenient, delicious snacks or even meal replacements. Here are ten of my favourites:

‘THIS IS MY BREAKFAST’ SMOOTHIE
Whether you’re the type who finds it hard to chew when you’re still half asleep, or just fancy a surefire nutrient boost first thing, this breakfast drink will help you smooth(ie) your way into the day.

Blend together 250ml almond Milk (43kcal, 0.5g sugar), one banana (90 cal kcal,12g sugar) one tablespoon of peanut butter (90kcal, 1.5g sugar) 1 tablespoon of Maca powder (20kcal, 1g sugar) and one tablespoon of ground flaxseed (37kcal, 0g sugar).

Total: 280kcal, 15g sugar

Need to know: “Maca is a great natural stimulant, brilliant if you’re not a morning person,” says smoothie expert Jamie Meek founder of Glo! Juice bar in Clapham and Parson’s Green (http://www.glojuice.co.uk/).  “It’s a Peruvian root, good for increasing energy and balancing hormones but also said to increase libido!”

‘I NEED FUEL FOR THE GYM’ SMOOTHIE
Yes this is quite sweet but we’ve kept it natural- no artificial pre-workout chemical-laden stuff. Blend: half a mango (70kcal, 16g sugar) two kiwis (80kcal, 13g sugar), handful of strawberries (50kcal, 8g sugar), water and ice. Simple, hydrating energy.

Total: 200kcal, 37g sugar

Need to know: two kiwis have the same amount of potassium in as a large banana, but around 40kcal less.

‘I NEED TO RECOVER FROM WEIGHT TRAINING’ SMOOTHIE
Christina Mckevitt is the in-house Nutritionist for kitchen technology company Smeg (http://www.smeguk.com/). She recommends blending: 150g natural greek yoghurt (130kcal, 5g sugar), 100ml rice milk (47kcal, 4g sugar), a handful of spinach leaves (7kcal, 1g sugar), one banana (80kcal, , teaspoon of ground flaxseed (37kcal, 0g sugar) and a scoop of vanilla protein powder (approximately 80kcal, 5g sugar, though this depends on brand).

Total: 381kcal, 15g sugar

Need to know: The reason most smoothies these days don’t include cow’s milk is because the prevailing wisdom amongst the health and fitness industry is now that dairy can induce gut issues. If you don’t have any kind of reaction however you might consider using full fat milk here for extra protein and creaminess. Beware skimmed as it contains more sugar and is less satiating.

‘I NEED TO RECOVER FROM CARDIO TRAINING’ SMOOTHIE
Cardio training is all about sweat, and that means rehydration afterwards is crucial. It’s also a time to try and ingest as many nutrients as possible particularly if you’ve been training as tough exercise creates free radicals [the reactive molecules that can harm the body and trigger illness], but antioxidants can stop the damaging effect.

Blend a antioxidant-tastic beetroot (40kcal, 6g sugar) with one apple (60kcal, 10g sugar) and a thumb of ginger (10kcal, 0g sugar). Blend with water to taste.

Total: 110kcal, 16g sugar.

Need to know: ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory so helps tired muscles recover.

‘I’M SKIPPING LUNCH’ SMOOTHIE
Missing meals completely is never good for maintaining balanced energy levels, but if you don’t have time to chew then you can still keep yourself pepped with nutritionist Mckevitt’s meal-replacement shake: one cup of water with half a medium avocado (150kcal, 1g sugar), half a cup of blueberries (85kcal, 15g sugar), one tablespoon of chia seeds (60kcal, 0g sugar), half a tablespoon of coconut oil (60kcal, 0g sugar) and half a tablespoon of stevia (1kcal 0g sugar).

Total: Calories: 346, Sugar: 16g 

Need to know: Chia seeds are favoured by the Mexican running tribe Tarahumara because of their ability to provide sustainable energy and Stevia is a sweetener with virtually zero sugar!

‘THIS IS MY DESSERT’ SMOOTHIE
Blend 250ml almond Milk (43kcal, 0.5g sugar), two tablespoons of almond butter (196kcal, 0.5g sugar) and 1 large frozen banana (120kcal 16g sugar – they make smoothies creamier than fresh ones but don’t forget to take the skin off before you freeze though!) Then add a tablespoon of raw cacao (31kcal, 1g sugar), dash of salt – use himalayan salt if possible as it’s full of essential minerals – half a tablespoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of honey (64kcal, 17g sugar).

Total: 454kcal, 35g sugar

Need to know: “Almonds are great for slow-releasing energy into your system,” says Mckevitt. “They contain lots of healthy fats, fibre,protein, magnesium and vitamin E which help to lower blood sugar levels and reduced blood pressure. This can reduce hunger and promote weight loss.” (Coach also loves magnesium after training because it helps tired muscles relax…)

‘I NEED TO BOOST MY FLAGGING ENERGY’ SMOOTHIE
Some days we need more calories than we realise, and this smoothie is a quick, healthy way to get in nearly an extra five hundred without too much stress on your digestion. Add together half a teaspoon of Matcha powder (virtually nil), 200 ml of coconut milk (300kcal, 0g sugar), a large handful of raspberries (64kcal, 5g sugar), two medjool dates (132kcal / 32g sugar).

Total: 496kcal, 37g sugar

Need to know: Meek says: “Matcha green tea powder gives you a gentle clarify and focus boost but unlike coffee doesn’t cause jitters. it’s full of antioxidants – the nutrients and enzymes responsible for fighting the negative effects of UV radiation, improving our skin and preventing a illness.”

‘I NEED TO EAT MORE VEGETABLES’ SMOOTHIE
Take a celery stick (6kcal / 1g sugar), about 3-4 inches of cucumber (8kcal, 1g sugar), a large handful of kale (33kcal, 0g sugar), three quarters of a cup of pineapple (14kcal, 3g sugar) a sprig of mint (2kcal, 0g sugar) and about three quarters of a cup of water.

Total: 63kcal, 5g sugar

Need to know: “This smoothie is full of goodness and has hardly any sugar in it,” says Meek, “But if you find slurping down all those veggies difficult use lower GI fruit like a granny smith apples (approximately 60kcal, 10g sugar) or pear (95kcal, 16g sugar) to make it more palatable.” Also, Mckevitt says: “Kale is higher in vitamin C than most other vegetables, containing about 4.5 times much as spinach.”

‘IMMUNITY BOOSTER’ SMOOTHIE
Take a small handful of spinach (7kcal, 1g sugar) one medium apple (95 cal, 19g sugar), half an avocado (150kcal, 1g sugar), 1 banana (90 kcal, 12g sugar) three quarters of a cup of water, a quarter cup of water, one teaspoon or spirulina (20kcal, 0g sugar) and blend!

Total: 362kcal, 33g sugar

Need to know: “Spirulina is perfect for boosting the immune system because it’s packed with plant based protein and omega 3s,” says Meek: “Avocado is also high in healthy fats and can hep you absorb nutrients easier.”

‘THIS IS ACTUALLY A COFFEE’ SMOOTHIE
Your adrenal glands will thank you for blending your java with other nourishing ingredients; the caffeine release is tempered by the rest of the smoothie giving you less of a jolt (a bit like having an espresso after a meal).  Blend a double espresso (10kcal and 0g sugar) with a handful of ice, 50ml of coconut milk (75kcal, 3g sugar), one scoop chocolate protein powder (approximately 80kcal, 5g sugar) and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Total: 165kcal, 8g sugar.

Need to know: The values of sugar and calories in protein powders vary widely so check the label to be exact!

THREE ADDITIONS FOR THE TRULY COMMITTED/BRAVE SMOOTHIE FANATIC
• Anyone for cricket? We’re not referring to that infamous English summer game but the edible insects of the same name. Crickets have appeared in health food shops in the last couple of years, heralded an eco-friendly snack that provides some of the highest quality protein on the planet. Chuck a few in your smoothie post-workout if you’re feeling brave… 

• Aloe Vera juice adds a mile sweet flavour to your shake, says juice and smoothie maker Jamie Meek: “What’s more it  helps support nutrient absorption your digestive tract.

• Baobab. Meek says: “This grows on south african trees and is high in vitamin C, offering more calcium than milk. It’s full of Fibre and more antioxidants than goji berries.” 

– By Lucy Fry

First appeared in Coach magazine.

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