Quick! What’s the first thing you think of when you want to beat the summer heat AND get a decent amount of nutrition? Thinking of a smoothie? So are we!
Smoothies are the perfect chilly treat for the summer since they can be full of good stuff that will replenish your body’s nutrients after a day in the sun as well as keep you feeling full and satisfied. And what’s even better: great-for-you veggies are easy to mask under the flavors of hydration-boosting fruit.
To maximize your smoothie’s efforts, make sure it’s thick enough to make your fullness last. Chia seeds, which turn into a gel in water, will expand in your stomach to combat impending hunger. Leafy greens like spinach and kale can act as thickeners while offering additional vitamins and minerals. Frozen fruit is a great alternative to ice since you get the added bonus of the fruit’s fiber as well as the icy cold temperature.
Take advantage of the fresh summer fruits and veggies we have at our disposal. Stone fruits like peaches, cherries, nectarines, plums, and apricots are all great sources of vitamins and minerals, especially when the skin of the fruit is consumed. Cucumbers’ 96 percent water content makes them ultra hydrating and their mineral balance packs in calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and more. Also, give beets a try if you haven’t already. In addition to being a high source of energy, beets promote mental health, work as a blood purifier, and prevent various cancers. Berries, passionfruit, and melons are also in season and make wonderful smoothie ingredients.
Adding a fun, unexpected twist to your smoothie doesn’t have to compromise its nutritional value. Spices, extracts, and fresh herbs can take your smoothie to the next flavor level and add some extra health benefits. Mint, lavender, lemongrass, ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, and vanilla extract are just a few ingredients you could consider.
It’s easy to get carried away with smoothies, though, since not all ingredients are created equal. A smoothie can easily turn into a calorie bomb, with some clocking in at over 700 calories per 16 ounces! Fruit juices, in particular, are calorie dense, averaging 120 calories per cup – that’s eight gulps! Since you’re using whole fruit, it’s probably better to opt for water, skim milk or a nut milk to thin out your smoothie. It’s important to be mindful about what’s going into your smoothie in order to get the most out of it.
Check out this creamy, refreshing, and calorie-friendly smoothie to help quench your thirst and keep you up and active this summer.
INGREDIENTS (makes 1 serving)
1 medium banana
1 cup frozen mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1 cup spinach
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
4-6 mint leaves (depending on your mint level preference)
1 tbsp almond milk (optional, to thin out your smoothie)
1 tsp honey (optional)
Combine greens and yogurt in a blender. Blend until no large leafy bits remain. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Finish your smoothie off with a sprig of mint.
Carbs: 41 g
Protein: 16 g
Sodium: 93 g
Sugar: 27 g
Additional nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium