Dietitian’s Guide to Smoothies | PLUS 3 delicious smoothie recipes

Who doesn’t love a refreshing smoothie on a hot summer’s day? They’re so versatile and (when made well) can be a nourishing brekkie or a snack!

I often get questions about smoothies (usually after I am done talking about why juices, even freshly squeezed, don’t deserve their health halo! A chat for another time!) from whether they are “better than juice” and why they don’t seem to hit the spot when it comes to feeling fuller longer.

So, I will be running through the pros & cons of smoothies and the times I use them in practice to help with different goals. Plus a few recipes for you to give a go using my basic building blocks to a nutritious and delicious smoothie!

Dietitians-Guide-to-Smoothies

Pros

  • Smoothies (unlike juices) contain all the fibre of their ingredients, which helps slow down the absorption of the carbohydrates in the smoothie, so packing in some hidden veggies will definitely give you both its fibre and vitamins & minerals! Win!
  • The fibre (if you choose fibrous ingredients, of course) helps slow down the
  • It can be a complete meal (again depending on what you put in there) but you can get your protein, carbohydrates and fats into a smoothie pretty easily as well as providing hydration & fibre – that is a nutritional knock-out!
  • It can be a huge boost to your daily vitamins & minerals from nature’s best sources – food.
Pitaya-Smoothie

Cons

  • Extra energy that you didn’t expect – smoothie ingredients can quickly add up quicker than you might think! Take a moment when you’re preparing your smoothie and lay out all the ingredients, and if you don’t think you could chew all of it up and swallow it (rather than drink it down), you might need to re-consider your smoothie portions & proportions. This is especially important when you’re trying to manage blood sugar levels, as carbohydrate-rich liquids will likely spike your blood glucose levels pretty quickly!
  • Smoothies are basically pre-masticated food (yes, I did just say that!) Masticated (meaning chewed up), it is liquefied, and yes whilst that can save your jaw muscles some extra and get some food into you a bit faster, it also means two potential consequences:

1. Gut upset: Because everything is liquefied, the transit time through the gut is reduced, you don’t have to chew and also your stomach doesn’t have to do as much mechanical work to breakdown the chunks of food, for some people when things run through their stomach and into their intestines too quick they can feel not so good in their tummy and some may even experience some loose bowels as a result.

2. Lower satiety: chewing food is one of the ways you are telling your brain that you’re eating and also to let your brain know that you’re getting fuller. Also as the liquid doesn’t sit in the stomach as long (because it’s pre-chewed, remember), it is more likely you will feel hungrier sooner. This is handy to take advantage of if you have a poor appetite, however, if you’re looking to shift some kg’s, it is a point to consider (alongside the content of your smoothie of course!)

Berry-Smoothie

Smoothies can be really handy!

  • When you’re trying to gain weight – you can make a liquid like a smoothie very nutrient and energy dense without eating a much bigger volume of food, which for people with less than ideal appetites and a weight gain goal, it can be such a great way to get some nourishing energy in as a snack or meal! This goes for kiddos too, a smoothie or a special milkshake can be an incredible tool to help boost their energy!

Speak to an Accredited Practising Dietitian about weight gain for fertility, pregnancy and for your child.

  • When you’re eating on the run – when eating a sit-down meal or snack is just not an option, a smoothie can be a handy way to ensure you don’t just miss a meal or snack. A hack that I learned from The Nude Nutritionist, Lyndi Cohen, is the pre-chop all the fruit and veg you are going to blend in your smoothie into a bag or container and freeze in the portions you use them in so you just add milk or water and blend before you dash!
  • Post-workout – if you have some body composition goals in mind and are looking to replenish both carbohydrates and protein to feed those muscle stores, then look no further than a smoothie made on dairy or soy milk with a high protein yoghurt, some fruit to help you recover from your session
  • Just because they’re delicious!
Blueberry-Smoothie

So now that you know a bit more about smoothies and how they may or may not fit into your day-to-day, check out my basic steps to making a killer and nutritionally sound smoothie:

  • Choose a base: are you going to use water, dairy milk, soy milk or another type of milk (hint: for it to be considered a source of calcium, it must contain at least 120 mg per 100 mL, look in the far right column on the nutrition panel). Ditch the fruit juice and opt for a milk base for some protein, riboflavin, calcium and phosphorus. If you’re taking into consideration energy you can opt for a water base instead.
  • Limit to 1 piece of fruit: that doesn’t mean you can’t use more than one type of fruit, it just means it should be equivalent to a serve of fruit, which is 150 g.
  • Add a veggie: whether it’s a cube of conveniently frozen spinach or 1/2 a carrot leftover from a salad or even some avocado, consider adding something from the veggie family into your smoothie! You could even get creative and add herbs like fresh mint.
  • Extra fibre: add some extra fibre to help slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, this could be in the form of chia seeds, LSA (linseed, sunflower, almond) or a small amount (like 1/4 tsp) of psyllium husk.
  • Healthy fats: these will help keep you fuller for a bit longer, try 1/4 of an avocado, chia seeds, nuts, seeds, nut butters like 100% peanut or almond butter.
  • Something yummy! This is the most important step, a sprinkle of cacao powder, a little drizzle (< 1 tsp) of maple syrup or honey, a dash of vanilla extract is all it takes for your smoothie to go from average to amazing pretty quickly!

Using my smoothie formula, I’ve got a few of my favourite recipes below!

Avo, banana & cacao

Ingredients

1/4 avocado
1 small frozen banana
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp cacao powder
1 tsp LSA
1 cup milk of choice

Method

Place in blender, blend until smooth & serve!

Avocado-Banana-Smoothie

Green Mango

Ingredients

1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango cubes
1/2 frozen banana
2 frozen spinach cubes or handful of fresh baby spinach, washed
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp honey
1 cup milk of choice

Method

Place in blender, blend until smooth & serve!

Mango-Smoothie

Berry Minty

Ingredients

1 cup frozen mixed berries
Big handful of fresh mint
1/4-1/2 tsp psyllium husk
1 tsp LSA
1 cup milk of choice

Method

Place in blender, blend until smooth & serve!

Berry-Smoothie

Tag me in any of your smoothie creations on Instagram or Facebook!