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Catherine’s golden rules for smoothie-making

Smoothies can be a blood sugar level disaster if mixed without care, warns Catherine Burns

Half term is approaching and for the first time in for ever we are heading to Disney.

The last time we went, the girls were little and the week was full of character breakfasts, meeting princesses, Frozen experiences and all the Mickey Mouse ear-wearing you would expect. Gosh, it was amazing.

This time, we are in full teen mode and it’s all about the scary rides and a venture over to Universal too. On top of that, Chloe talked me into a Mother Mother concert which just happens to be on at the same time. I’m finding it pretty funny that I’ll be a Mother at Mother Mother but am also deeply concerned about what to wear. I might look somewhat out of place but I’ve dug out the black eyeliner and all the black clothing I own. I’m just happy she’s OK with me being a fly on the wall of her teen life. This age is crazy but getting to know who they are now as they change and evolve is a wild, amazing ride all of its own.

My dad was the mastermind behind this trip and my brother and his family are coming along too. The holiday is largely on dad, which made me slightly worried thinking he was having a massive burst of generosity in response to some kind of end-of-life scenario, but I have been reassured that’s not the case. He is just … very generous!! How he will be feeling about it after six days of rollercoasters and teen madness remains to be seen.

So next week will be full-on, intense family fun with likely some questionable nutritional choices along the way. I don’t tend to over-police the girls these days, so I am sure there will be ice creams galore. As long as we keep getting those fruit and veg in — and some solid doses of protein — then I don’t really mind what they scatter on top (especially when it’s short term.) I’m just packing a lot of GoMacro and Aloha bars for snacks and hoping we find a good smoothie bar or two!

When it comes to smoothies, they can be a great way of getting in a big dose of micronutrients — especially during times when you are on the move, or eating less well than you do usually (for example when you travel or are ill). But you do have to be careful. Some smoothie bars will pack in up to four cups of fruit — that is far too much, especially if a large portion of that is banana. Whether you make your own smoothies at home or order yours in a café, I thought I would share my golden rules of smoothie-making with you. If you follow these, you can make sure your smoothie is genuinely healthy and not a blood sugar level disaster.

Golden rules of smoothie-making!

1. One cup of fruit, max

This is where most people go wrong, especially when ordering from a smoothie bar. You want max one cup of fruit otherwise you will completely overdo the natural sugars. This is easy to control at home, but in a café you might want to ask them to hold back on the fruit for you. They won’t complain, given that it will be cheaper for them! (The other way to manage this is to get a smoothie but split it between two …)

2. Pair higher-sugar fruit with low-sugar fruit

If you were to make a banana, pineapple and mango smoothie, you would have a big hit of natural sugars — those are some of the sweetest fruits right there! If you choose one of these, then mix them with peaches or berries instead, which are lower on the glycemic index. Ripeness also determines sweetness (the riper the fruit, the more fructose there is) so be careful not to use overripe bananas.

3. Add some extra fibre

A great way to steady sugar release (which means less pressure on your insulin response and more sustained energy) is to add extra fibre to your smoothie. You could add ground flax seed, a tablespoon of oats, a big handful of greens or even some cucumber. I know the latter sounds strange but a banana, strawberry and cucumber smoothie is oddly good!!

4. Add some protein

Here we go. Another big gun for helping to steady sugar release and prolong energy. If you opt for a protein powder, check the portion size as you only need about 15g (as a reference point, one egg has 6g). If you pick whey protein, always go for grass-fed. If you pick plant-based protein, make sure you avoid soy and preferably choose sprouted plant-based proteins which are more bioavailable! We have grass-fed whey and a great plant-based protein in Miles, the Garden of Life Organic Sport brand. As an alternative to protein powder, you could add 1 tsp of almond butter and 1 tbsp of pumpkin or hemp seeds for a more whole-food approach.

5. Choose a good mixer

Please don’t use juice as a mixer as your sugars will skyrocket! You can use coconut water but even then I would only add a splash as natural sugars are high. If you use a milk, go for plant-based and always choose unsweetened. However, these days I just use water. Smoothies still taste great with only water, are lower in sugar, more refreshing and you skip the weird additives/gums in plant-based milks. I’ve also been known to use chilled herbal tea (eg, chamomile) — it’s a good way to use up that cup of tea that you made but never drank! (Just pop it in the fridge before you leave the house instead of pouring it down the drain.)

6. Consider adding collagen

I’m a big fan of collagen as it’s so helpful for skin, hair, nails, bone density, joint health and gut integrity. You’ll need a hydrolysate that dissolves well. My favourite is the unflavoured Great Lakes collagen peptides from Miles, which comes from grass-fed cows in Brazil. If the idea of cow-based collagen freaks you out, remember it’s no different to bone broth, or making your own chicken stock from scratch! This way, it’s unflavoured and easy to incorporate at breakfast or for a snack.

Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram

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Published October 21, 2022 at 6:57 am (Updated October 21, 2022 at 6:57 am)

Catherine’s golden rules for smoothie-making

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