You just finished your workout at the gym.
You’re hot and sweaty and a refreshing fruit smoothie sounds perfect.
Just be careful you’re not drinking in all the calories you just worked off. Some smoothies contain as much sugar as you’d find in a dozen doughnuts.
You read that correctly. Instead of fresh strawberries and bananas, a purchased smoothie more likely gets its flavor from fruit syrups or powders with added sugar and fat. Some have more in common with an ice cream shake than a healthy snack.
“You can make a healthy smoothie,’’ says Tracie Jackson, a nutrition specialty services therapist with Nebraska Medicine. “But if you are looking at buying it somewhere it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.’’
Jackson, a dietitian since 1989, is not saying to avoid them completely. Just be a savvy consumer and read the labels.
“Get the information and decide how that fits into your dietary needs,’’ she recommends. “I would want one that had real fruit. Like berries, mangos or bananas, rather than a powder or a syrup.’’
If you are creating your own, and want to make it more nutritious, Jackson has these tips:
• If you are drinking a smoothie instead of eating a meal, fruit is a carbohydrate. It’s a source of quick energy that won’t sustain you for long. So add yoghurt to give yourself some protein. Jackson freezes fruit overnight, defrosts it slightly in the microwave, then puts it in her Magic Bullet with some yogurt or skim milk and grinds the ingredients.
• Instant breakfast drinks and protein powders can add needed proteins and carbohydrates to your smoothie. Just make sure they are balanced — you don’t want all proteins.
• Some smoothie recipes call for honey, which sounds healthy. But it’s just another version of sugar and its calories. “Fruit is sweet enough by itself,’’ Jackson says. “You don’t need to add anything.’’ But if you must, opt for unsweetened apple juice or pineapple juice.
• Vegetables such as spinach and kale are the perfect addition. “You don’t even know they’re in there and you just boosted the nutritional value,’’ Jackson says. “It’s going to add good things without adding anything detrimental.’’
Field and farm smoothie
1. Place one cup frozen fruit, one cup fresh spinach and 1/2 cup soft tofu in a blender. 2. Add one-half cup milk and blend until ingredients are smooth. 3. Use additional milk to obtain the consistency you like. 4. Add sweetener to taste. Serve immediately.