**This piece was submitted as part of our Community Contributor pilot project in collaboration with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.
By Tiffany Calvert / OC Monitor Community Contributor
How many of us could say we get the recommended amount of nutrition every day?
For those of you who know me, you know how hard I strive to eat well and provide nourishing meals for my family. Reality is, there are not enough hours in the day to eat perfectly balanced meals. Being too busy to eat healthy is not a good excuse. We must start eating to live rather than living to eat!
In my efforts to make healthier choices for my family, I have learned some things along the way. Planning ahead is key and, for my family, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is nearly impossible without juicing or smoothies. Smoothies can simplify meal planning while adding nutrient rich foods to our diet. They can be enjoyed for any meal, snack or dessert.
In this article, I will share:
- Tips on creating nutritious smoothies
- Ways to build your own smoothie
- Healthy smoothie recipes
- Ideas from local Ohio Countians on how they add nutritious smoothies to their diet
Let me start by warning you about the biggest mistake folks make when consuming smoothies. Adding too much fruit! The ratio of fruit to vegetables in a smoothie is a personal taste preference; however, I always encourage people to focus on vegetables because too much fruit adds too much sugar, although natural, to your diet.
Both fruits and vegetables support digestion, help reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. When searching for recipes, or simply creating one of my own, I try to use just enough fruit to sweeten and disguise other unfavorable ingredients for my picky eaters.
Not only should we try to eat five servings of vegetables and fruits a day, but we should also try to eat a variety of colors. Variety is the spice of life!
If you’re interested in knowing how colorful eating can improve your health, click here for the Produce Availability Guide.
If you’re new to preparing smoothies, following a recipe is a safe place to start. Once you’re familiar with the basic ingredients it takes to make a delicious and nutritious drink then you can have fun own experimenting. Steps to build your own smoothie:
- Choose your fruits and vegetables. Choosing similar colors will create a brighter more appealing drink. For example, for a green smoothie I would choose spinach, cucumber, avocado, apple and kiwi. For an orange drink, I might add carrots, mango and pineapple. Some fruits and vegetables have strong flavors when blended. Spinach is very mild in flavor and can go undetected in just about any flavor combination. My family prefers to add less broccoli and celery because of the over-powering flavor those vegetables create. Tip: Start by adding small amounts of new fruits and vegetables because it’s easier to add more than it is to try to cover up a bold flavor.
- Add a liquid. This would include a liquid like juice, milk or water. My favorites include almond milk and 100% apple juice. When considering the consistency you prefer your drink, I’ve discovered adding Greek yogurt, avocados, dates, frozen bananas and peanut/ almond butter create a thicker creamy texture.
- Throw in the extras! Consider adding seeds, nuts, spices, roots, honey/maple syrup, or powders. Examples would include; chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, ginger, turmeric, cacao powder, and many more!
- Blend and enjoy! Make your smoothie more exciting by drinking out of a pretty glass with a fancy straw. You can also garnish with fresh fruit or even indulge is some dark chocolate curls for a dessert smoothie.
Try these recipes:
8 oz (1 cup) plain yogurt
1 cup almond milk
1-3/4 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled
1 fresh peach, peeled and sliced, or 3/4 cup frozen peach slices (see note)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 whole strawberries (optional)
Place first 5 ingredients in a blender. Purée mixture for 15 to 20 seconds.
Garnish glass with strawberry and walnuts, if desired.
Note: If you prefer a thicker smoothie, replace the peach with 1 small sliced banana.
Nutritional Information for individual food recipe: Calories: 210; Fat: 6 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 10 mg; Sodium: 135 mg; Calcium: 30% Daily Value; Protein: 12 g; Carbohydrates: 29 g
Recipe adapted from: https://food.unl.edu/my-favorite-smoothie-one-easy-recipemany-variations
Follow this link to more AWESOME recipes: http://extension.uga.edu/programs-services/school-garden-resources/classroom-cookbook/smoothies.html
Linda James, Ohio County Homemaker shared her favorite green smoothie recipe.
Linda’s Green Smoothie formula
2 cups of a leafy green
2 cups of a liquid
3 cups of ripe fruit
Angie Hudnell, HIP nurse at Perdue, shared her and her family’s favorite recipes.
Angie’s favorite is Banana Berry
½ cup banana
¼ cup blueberries
1 cup pineapple juice
½ cup crushed ice
Angies’ Son’s favorite is Peanut Butter-Banana
½ cup frozen banana
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup milk
½ cup crushed ice
Squirt of chocolate syrup
Angies’ Daughter’s favorite is Berry Smoothie
½ cup frozen strawberries
¼ cup frozen blueberries
1 cup pineapple juice
½ cup crushed ice
Shane and Leesha Vincent, with Back to Basics Chiropractic, shared their favorite smoothie recipe:
Shane and Leesha’s favorite Spinach/Kale Smoothie
Handful of spinach or kale. (We like to rotate so our bodies don’t build up oxalic acid.)
Handful of blueberries (frozen or fresh)
Spoonful of almond butter
1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp flaxseed
- https://njaes.rutgers.edu/pubs/publication.php?pid=FS1245 – Click “Download PDF”
- https://whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/recipes/myplate-cnpp/batido-smoothie – Smoothie recipe using Papaya
Tiffany Calvert began work as the new Ohio County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences on January 1, 2013. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Western Kentucky University and her Master of Arts in Education from University of the Cumberlands. Tiffany has a passion to teach others about nutrition, food preservation and how to save food dollars. She shares her interests in kayaking, gardening, hunting and being outdoors with her husband Trent and two sons Talon and Tateum. The following are a few community events she participates in: Longest Day of Play, Celebrate the Baby, Truth & Consequences: The Choice is Yours, Children’s Farmer’s Market and several others.
For more information on programs Ohio County Cooperative Extension Service has to offer like the extension office on Facebook or call (270) 298-7441.