Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Green Smoothies... The way forward!

Some of you may have seen my blog about the Lean Greens from earlier in the year. I continued to use Lean Greens until they changed their recipe... It became really chalky tasting and in my opinion the old recipe was far superior. I didn't get on too well with the new recipe, and it got me thinking that it was a lot of money to spend on something I'm sure I could make up at home... FRESH!

When I used the Lean Greens, I noticed the results almost straight away: more energy, I felt stronger, had better digestion, looked leaner etc. Fat loss was never really a goal for me but I know a few who used it for that and they definitely reported weight loss. It was also great to increase your fluid intake.

You can't really go wrong with those results, but I decided to start making my own green smoothies and unlike the first sip of Lean Greens, which was an acquired taste, I was pleasantly surprised! Since starting the smoothies a back in July I've even introduced some friends and family to them, who are usually really fussy eaters but after a little getting used to now also love them!

Here are just some of the benefits of adding green smoothies to your diet:

1) Weight loss - Although I don't use as a meal replacement, you can replace an unhealthy breakfast or lunch with a green smoothie and better still, if you usually skip breakfast or lunch have one of these made up ready to go! A healthy body is a happy body!

2) More energy - All the contents of a green smoothie help to provide your body with key vitamins, minerals, proteins, healthy fats and fluid. If you need to increase your levels of one thing, search for some good fruits/veggies that are a high source of it.

3) Reduced fat % and increased muscle mass - If you get your quantities right, the green smoothies will help to zap away any excess fat. Even if you consume them as a snack, giving your body all the good things it needs means that it'll work so much more efficiently at burning unwanted fat. You can also add good sources of protein to your smoothies such as nuts and seeds, these work better when using for meal replacements and post workouts and will help your muscles to repair more efficiently.

4) Better immune system - Think of these as a fresh multi vitamin, except without all the bulking agents that get added! Much better rate of absorption too, getting most of the goodness into your body rather than passing straight through.

5) Better digestion - Whether you suffer from constipation, bloating or going more often than you feel is normal, using green smoothies will really help your bowl to regulate... Lovely! The fibre in smoothies (the pulp) is consumed, unlike juicing, which will also mean less sugar from the fruits are absorbed into the body.

6) Hangover cure - I'm not encouraging you all to have a massive binge, but at this time of year with staff parties looming and visiting friends and family you haven't seen for ages, I'd recommend you have a ready made smoothie in the fridge ready for when you get home. The water content will help to rehydrate you, your body has been depleted of vital vitamins and minerals that this will replenish and in general all the goodness will help to repair your body, flush out toxins and make it more efficient.

7) Better skin - Same reasons as above really, hydration, better repair, vitamins and minerals add in the fact that a lot of fresh ingredients include natural anti-biotics and anti-inflammatories and your skin should be fuller and glowing in no time :-)

There are still many more reasons for making your own green smoothies, it means you hit your fruit and veg quota and the kids will love it without realising what in them (you might need to use beetroot, raspberries or pink dragon fruit to dye the smoothie pink though)! Making your own is also cheaper than buying them, easy to make and it's nice to know exactly what you're putting into your body!

Here's what you'll need to make a green smoothie:

  • A good blender (I use the NutriBullet as it's small, easy to clean and comes with cups/lids so you can grab and go)
  • Green veggies - I use kale, but many prefer to start with spinach, but any green leafy veg will work. Your smoothie should be 50% greens.
  • Fruit - A good fruit to start with is pineapple, it's high in fibre and vitamin C and also sweet enough to mask the taste of the greens. I use 1/4 of a full pineapple (including core) and it makes two portions.
  • Super foods - Nuts, seeds, goji berries, cocao nibs, matcha green tea, wheatgrass, spices etc etc. Taylor your smoothie to include whatever works well for your needs. Remember that nuts, seeds and dried fruit have a high calorie content, so make sure you know how much you're putting in.
  • Fluid - I use coconut milk, but you can use water, almond milk, soya milk etc. Whatever you choose to use, ensure it's got no added nasties like aspartame or sugar!
I don't follow recipes any more, I just chuck in what I've got lying around! It's trial and error, my Mum started making them and hated her first few, now she knows what she likes and what to never put in again! The best advice I've got is if you've got a blender, try them for a week or so, then if you like them buy a NutriBullet or similar. If you don't have a blender, borrow one or buy a cheap multi use one. They'll always come in handy to make soups etc!

One of my first recipes was:

Fill NutriBullet with 50% Kale
1/4 fresh pineapple
5 strawberries
15 almonds
Coconut milk to max line

Have a look at this website though, they run free 30 day smoothie challenges, giving you daily recipes with the next one starting in January. There are so many recipes on there already, have a browse, make a shopping list and give it a go :-) click here for smoothie recipes

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