Green has always been the colour of hope. But why the hype about green smoothies? Three words: “Sub-cellular food decomposition”. We all chew our food - sometimes well, sometimes poorly - and so take some of the burden off our digestive tract. You’ve probably heard your mother say “chew your food” a thousand times. And it is in this grinding that the secret of green smoothies lies. While our teeth are only capable of grinding food down to two millimetres in size, a blender can break down plant substances to cell level. So nutrients are released within the cell walls.
The amount of nutrients released in this way can exceed the amount released by chewing by up to 100% - depending on the blender used and the nutrient in question. Plus, hardly anyone has the time to eat the five daily servings of fruit and vegetables recommended by the German Nutrition Society. So the idea of replacing endless chewing with a high performance blender is obvious.
Who doesn’t struggle to eat several servings of fruit and vegetables every day? Smoothies are an easy alternative to time-consuming efforts to get the recommended amount of greens. With the right list of ingredients, a single smoothie covers a large portion of your nutritional needs. Regardless of the blend, a smoothie always brings you closer to your recommended daily intake. The high fibre content also benefits digestion. For many, years of poor nutrition has changed their digestive system so that consuming too much fruit, vegetables and leafy greens will cause initially cause problems.
You should slowly get used to a healthy lifestyle and give your body the time it needs to adjust to it. A change to your diet usually needs a few weeks to develop its full effects. But afterwards most people report increased motivation and improved well-being. Ideally you should incorporate green smoothies into your daily routine as a snack between meals and they can therefore replace other sweet snacks and unhealthy nibbles.
Green smoothies are also popular for [link=1002]weight loss[/link]. Most fruits have a high energy density, usually in the form of fructose (fruit sugar). They’re also high in vitamins, minerals, fibre and secondary plant substances. When you put it all together you get a wholesome meal which can replace other meals to save on calories. Decidedly well nourished and free from hunger, you can easily lose a few pounds. And smoothies are exciting too because of the variety of recipes. So you are guaranteed fun and enjoyment.
For an easy to drink smoothie, fruit and vegetables alone are usually not smooth enough. The meat from the fruit gives it a mushy consistency, making it impossible to drink. But spooning fruit purée was never the idea, so disappointment will already set in for many during preparation. There is a simple solution: add water to the blender until all of the fruit is covered, then blend.
An important and particularly healthy component of smoothies is secondary plant substances. As these substances are generally very bitter and our taste buds are spoiled from endless sugar rushes from ready meals and sweets, many have to get used to the flavour of green smoothies. You can easily counter this with an extra portion of fruit. Especially when ripe, they are high in fructose and will balance out the sometimes slightly bitter flavour of the leafy greens excellently.
If you want performance, you have to have substance. Fruit and vegetables very quickly lose their valuable components. If you buy fruit fresh but don’t use it for a few days or you store ready-made smoothies in the fridge, you are wasting a good portion of nutrients. Tip: Beginners in particular should hold back on their first buy. Smaller portions are easy to use within one or two days, even if you don’t have time or you can’t be bothered to blend - stir fry is always an option. On the other hand a rotting vegetable drawer is sure to do more harm than good.
Are you crazy for nuts? Then you need a stronger blender than someone who is just making a ginger-spinach smoothie. A hand blender may be easy to clean but it usually doesn’t have the power you need to grind up nuts. Motors and blades are often over-burdened and break down after just a short period of time. Seek advice and research the different options before going for a machine that is too big or too small. You shouldn’t spend several hundred Euro on a test when you don’t know how it will turn out. And the hand blender you have is definitely enough for the novice smoothies following this article.
If you want to improve your diet, you will of course want tangible results - and sooner rather than later. But here too, the rule ‘don’t overdo it’ applies. If you start your smoothie career with an overdose of greens, you will probably fall off the wagon after just a few days. If you drink too much too quickly, you will overwhelm your body if it has been used to short-chain carbohydrates and artificial additives from fast food for years. The high amount of fibre and secondary plant substances (for example chlorophyll) will cause discomfort and gas.
A smoothie is not a thirst quencher. Mixed correctly, smoothies actually equal a wholesome meal. So it is better to start with one glass (250ml) per day and to allow your digestive system to get used to the new nutrients.
Here too, beginners’ enthusiasm is your greatest foe. You read about the healing effects of different super vegetables and exotic seeds and think “Why not mix them all together?” While a well put together list of ingredients soothes your stomach or gently stimulates digestion, crazy mixtures confuse the stomach. With five, ten or more ingredients, the stomach begins to rebel and the end of your healthy pilgrimage nears. And this type of pot-pourri is not exactly tasty. As a rule of thumb, you should - especially in the beginning - avoid combining more than three to five ingredients in a smoothie.
If you just throw a few spinach leaves into a milkshake full of cheap sugars and think it will do you good, you are quite mistaken. But if you sprinkle regular sweeteners (cane sugar, household sugar) into your smoothie, you also shouldn’t be surprised if it wreaks havoc on your body. Too many short-chain carbohydrates at once cause your blood sugar level to spike and the body will respond by releasing insulin. A high insulin level in turn prevents fat burning and at the same time increases the risk of pangs of hunger. With these symptoms behind you, unfortunately neither muscle development nor weight loss work very well. Instead of using regular sugar, it is better to use the [link=7275]healthy sugar replacement xylitol[/link] and dried fruit or simply add a handful of fresh fruit.
Before a workout you of course need quickly available carbohydrates to focus and to be able to get going straight away. Add to that a few vitamins and minerals so your metabolism will work seamlessly. To avoid collapsing during your workout, long-chain carbohydrates are a must.
After a workout, regeneration is called for. But before you lie down, you should give your body the nutrients it needs. First of all, your body needs calories to aid digestion as well as healing and growth processes. Without a working digestive system, you cannot recover nutrients and therefore cannot regenerate. Secondly, you should replace the vitamins and minerals you have sweated out during your workout (especially magnesium and zinc). Thirdly, the body needs proteins (especially essential amino acids) to repair damage to muscles and tissues.
When building muscle or in bodybuilding in particular, you need additional protein if you want to build mass. You can therefore easily mix whey protein or a vegan alternative into the smoothie to get the amount of protein needed to meet your goal. There are also totally new flavour options.
Are there rules for the perfect smoothie? Sort of. Water is always a basic ingredient, without which you won’t be able to make a pleasant smoothie. The amount of water used decisively influences how easy it is to drink and digest.
As a rule of thumb: fill half of the blender with fruit and the other half with leafy greens. Then fill the blender with water until the fruit is covered and blend. As a smoothie should be as rich in vitamins as possible, we recommend using locally grown seasonal fruit and vegetables. Long transport routes and long storage times reduce vital substance content substantially. Food harvested too early also will not have the intensity of taste that ripe fruit and vegetables have. As well as freshness, the composition is decisive. Here are a few simple recipes for novices:
A classic is the spinach smoothie with apples and bananas. Fresh spinach in particular contains lots of healthy substances that only really come out in the blender. For this you need:
Put the ingredients in a blender and blend everything for one minute. To make it a little more appealing to people with a sweet tooth you can add two tablespoons of the sugar substitute [link=7275]xylitol[/link], for example.
This clever, refreshing smoothie makes an excellent post-workout shake. In addition to lots of vitamins, spinach and bananas of course also contain magnesium. Whey protein supplies you with all of the important amino acids you need for building muscle.
Put all of the ingredients into the blender in this order and blend for around one minute until it has the desired consistency. Top off your smoothie with ice to make it a creme de la creme refreshment, just like your workout.
Avocados are used in lots of recipes because they give smoothies a creamy consistency. For an (admittedly rather advanced) vegan protein option, we recommend this recipe:
Chop the ingredients if necessary and put them in the blender, fill with water, blend and enjoy fresh.
Start with three to five ingredients, no more. For one thing your digestive system needs to get used to the new nutrients and for another a crazy mix of ingredients will usually confuse your taste buds. Our tip: To start with go for one to two types of fruit, one type of leafy green (salad or spinach) and add one interesting special ingredient (for example a [link=0004]superfood[/link]).
Have fun trying them out!