A Smoothie Maker is a Great Investment for a Healthier Diet

A smoothie maker may very well turn out to be a really good investment, not only does it make getting a lot more vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables a simple process that is also absolutely delicious, it also saves time if you prepare the fruits and vegetables when you have time and store them in the freezer ready for use.

This has the advantage of saving you buying ready made smoothies, your own home made ones will not have been processed to prolong shelf life, or contain any ingredients you do not want!

Blendtec Xpress

If you are dieting, you can use your smoothie maker for delicious low calorie treats and add fruits and vegetables to powdered diet drinks to make them even more delicious and healthy whilst adding hardly any extra calories.

A smoothie maker does not take up much counter space in your kitchen. The basic difference between a smoothie maker and most blenders is that a smoothie maker has more power so it can crush ice and other frozen ingredients and make really smooth drinks.

There are lots of blenders on the market that can crush ice and you may find that you do not need another machine – however, most people will agree that a smoothies made in a blender lack the clarity of colour and truly delicious smoothness of smoothie maker smoothies unless you get a really good blender.

There are plenty of these if you shop around, most notable of which the Blendtec Blenders – my favourite model is the Blendtec Xpress and from Vitamix who especially recommend the Vitamix 4500 for use as a smoothie maker. Even these top of the range models are available at really excellent prices- especially if you buy online.

Whilst top of the range smoothie makers have many additional features like being able to keep drinks chilled or with two canisters to make more than one type of smoothie at once, these are not really necessary for use at home and the cost and the larger size make them a ‘bridge too far’ for most of us. However, if you are planning on using a smoothie maker in a commercial setting, this is exactly the type of machine you will want to go for.

Make The Most Of Your Smoothie Maker

By making smoothies in your smoothie maker at home, you have the reassurance of knowing that they are absolutely fresh.

In addition, you know that what you are drinking has not been subjected to some of the processes used for commercial smoothies, such as the heat treatment process known as pasteurisation which is designed to extend the shelf life of the smoothie by killing bacteria but may also reduce the nutritive benefits of the product.

If you have been put off buying a smoothie maker in the past, now may be the right time to buy, they really are not expensive and in the long run will save you money by enabling you to make your own delicious and nutritious smoothies instead of buying them – and as mentioned, you will know exactly what has been included in your smoothies, because you put it there!

Here are my top tips on ways to make the most of your smoothie maker.

seasonal fruitsShop in markets to utilise seasonal produce wherever possible and buy in bulk, pre-prepare fruits and vegetables and freeze them ready for use. This works really well for most fruits except citrus and loses almost none of the health benefits of fresh fruit. In addition, using frozen fruits and vegetables will make your smoothie seem thicker and creamier.

smoothie ice lolliesIt is easy to use up left over smoothie mixture. Small quantities can be covered in the refrigerator for up to twenty-four hours and enjoyed later or, you can freeze the mixture into ice cube trays to add to other cold drinks – which looks very attractive or you turn it into smoothie ice lollies which not only cost less than bought ones but also have a much higher nutritional value.

Green smoothies are a great way to persuade children to eat vegetables they might otherwise refuse. Try a spinach smoothie for example, this is perhaps something you would not normally consider but children really love them.

It is always a good idea to taste your smoothie mixture before adding sugar as whilst recipes often advocate including sugar, by using ripe fruits this is very often not required.  Adding a spoonful of honey makes for a healthier alternative if you do want a little added sweetness.

Smoothie maker smoothies can be made with lots of alternatives to cow’s milk so even if you are lactose intolerant or need to avoid dairy products, you can still enjoy all the great tasting smoothie recipes by substituting soy milk, rice milk, almond milk or coconut milk.

If you do not want to invest in a smoothie maker right now because you are unsure how much you would use it, why not try a few simple recipes in your blender or using a stick blender? These are not suited for long-term use as smoothie makers as they often cannot crush ice or frozen fruits but they will definitely give you a taste for smoothies and you will notice health benefits after only a short time.

Some Top Ideas For Luxurious Thick Smoothie Maker Smoothies

If you want to achieve thicker and creamier smoothies from your home smoothie maker, adding dairy alternatives or dairy milk and yoghourt is a great way to do this. Adding these ingredients is not necessarily going to make them higher in calories.

To ensure healthy bones in young children and to protect from osteoporosis in adulthood, an adequate supply of calcium is needed and both dairy and enriched dairy alternative milks are a good source of this vital mineral.

For those with lactose intolerance or who find dairy milk difficult to digest, the wide range of dairy alternatives available are ideal for adding to smoothies. By using these milk substitutes, everyone can have the pleasure of drinking delicious, creamy, thick milk shakes and smoothies.

One of the best sources of calcium naturally available in the diet is cow’s milk. Full fat milk is probably best avoided by everyone except active young children who need additional calories because it is high in saturated fats which dietary advice dictates should be avoided. The full benefits of dairy milk are still available in both low fat and skimmed milk.

thick and creamy strawberry smoothie

Thick and Creamy Strawberry Smoothie

Cream can be added to smoothies to make it a really special treat. Other dairy ingredients that add a lot of creaminess are mascarpone cheese and creme fraiche. Whilst cream is very high in saturated fat and therefore high in calories, it is also a great source of vitamin E so is probably ok as a treat now and then.

Adding Yoghourt is another delicious way of making smoothies thicker and creamier. The thick and creamy yoghourts may contain almost as many calories as cream so look for a low fat version. Fruit yoghourts can also be added to smoothies to add interest.

Calcium is found in abundance in yoghourt which is good news for people who have problems digesting milk as they can often tolerate yoghourt very well and get a boost to their calcium intake. Probiotic yoghourts, sometimes called ‘live’ yoghourts are the best sort to look for as these have huge health benefits to both the digestive system and the immune system. If high cholesterol is a problem for you, look out for the special cholesterol lowering, high fibre yoghourts now available in supermarkets.

coconut milkA good option if you are watching your calories is to look for one of the non dairy milks now available in supermarkets. Coconut milk is about the only nut milk which is not high in polyunsaturated fats which are much better for us that saturated fats. Non-dairy milks enriched with calcium are a good idea if these are regularly drunk instead of dairy milk and most soya milks now have as much calcium as cow’s milk.

Rice milk is a great addition to smoothies and shakes and is also available in flavours such as vanilla and strawberry. It is thinner than cow’s milk but has a delicious, sweet flavour. Oat milk is also great and is quite rich, giving a lovely creamy texture. Many nut milks are available and can be purchased in most supermarkets and health food stores.

To sum up, there are lots of ways to make your smoothies even more delicious by adding some of the ingredients to make them creamier and the amount of additional calories can be controlled by checking the labels on packaging and choosing the healthier options.

For me, this is one of the best things about using a smoothie maker – to make my own smoothies at home as I can decide exactly what ingredients go into my smoothies.

Best Protein Powder Smoothies

The best protein powder smoothies are easy to make in your smoothie maker and taste great and help build muscle mass when used as part of a keep fit regimen.

Whey protein weight loss smoothies are also very popular and beneficial when used as meal replacements or as part of a low calorie diet.

Protein powder is a dietary supplement that can be made from whey, eggs, soy or rice; these foods are processed for their protein content and made into a powder.

Whey is the most common, but egg white protein is used for those who are cutting out dairy products or are lactose-intolerant, while soy protein is suitable for vegetarians. The body’s digestive system breaks down proteins with proteases, dietary enzymes. The proteins are converted to amino acids, which accelerate muscle growth and repair when they are present in high levels in the body. Protein is essential if you are following a weight loss plan, as it does not turn to fat as carbohydrates do. A diet high in protein is a satisfying one; it makes you feel full for longer and therefore less likely to turn to unhealthy snacks.

The best protein powder for most people is whey isolate or soy isolate, because they are most easily absorbed by the body. Any brand of protein powder will do the job, although you should try to find one that is low in carbohydrates and sugar. If protein powder is taken just before exercising, the protein is put to work as soon as it breaks down, immediately building muscle tissue.

Protein powder can be sprinkled over cereal and added to sauces, but the tastiest way to add it to your diet is to use it in a delicious, nutritious smoothie. Mixing protein powder with fruit and yogurt makes a healthy smoothie that is a perfect way to start the day. If you are normally in a rush when you get up and do not always have time to make breakfast, these make perfect meal replacement shakes that you can prepare the night before. When it is ready, transfer it to a glass, cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator; it will be nice, chilled, and ready for you to drink the next morning, even if you only have a few minutes to spare.

Apart from the benefits to your muscles, the best protein powder makes smoothies taste more rich and creamy, and helps stop the mixture melting or separating. Many flavors of protein powder are available, including vanilla, strawberry, peach and chocolate. To make a tasty smoothie, mix yogurt with the frozen fruit of your choice; once it is smooth, add the protein powder and any additional vitamin supplements you want to take. Unsweetened plain yogurt is fine, but Greek yogurt is packed with twice as much protein. You can add more fruit, yogurt or powder to change your smoothie to suit your own tastes.

Smoothie with fruitsOne of the best protein powder smoothie recipes is made with frozen blueberries, frozen peaches and vanilla protein powder. As well as a protein-rich drink, it is packed with vitamin C, calcium and antioxidants. Experiment with different ingredients and flavors so that you do not get bored of drinking the same protein smoothie every day.

Spinach Smoothie, Try These Two Recipes

When you were little, did you like spinach? If your answer is no, maybe that is why you might be hesitant about trying a spinach smoothie – after all, if you are anything like me, you were told to eat your greens because they would make you grow up big and strong / make your hair curl / put hairs on your chest – whichever homily seemed most appropriate to our parents!

My brother and I definitely did not find that green vegetables any tastier for being told any of this. But green smoothies are a great way to introduce both adults and children to the benefits of eating healthy greens.

Green Smoothie with AppleA Spinach smoothie made at home in your smoothie maker is packed full of vitamins The ACE combination of vitamins A, C and E, all the important B group vitamins, B1, B2, B3 B5 and B6

I have to say that my list would be much shorter if I told you what they  did not contain – hardly any fat or cholesterol and definitely no refined sugars and absolutely none of those things that manufacturers often put into smoothies that are bought ready made not only to make them taste nicer (I am talking here about such things as corn syrup and other flavourings) but also to give them a longer shelf life.

Spinach smoothies and other green smoothies have many positive benefits for our health.

These not only include a general improvement in our well-being including increased energy, libido and alertness. They also help our bodies to heal more quickly after an injury and improve many chronic conditions and illnesses, strengthening our immune systems because of all the vitamins and antioxidants.

They also help to improve our digestive systems and make wonderful detox smoothies helping us to regain shining hair, a bright, clear complexion and healthy eyes.

However, I could tell you all day long how good a spinach smoothie is for you but if it tasted as bad as cod liver oil (another thing that our parents assured us was good for us as small children), it would all be for nothing because you would never try one! Luckily though, Spinach smoothies taste absolutely delicious. So just to get you started, here are my two all-time favourite spinach smoothie recipes to whet your appetite!
green tea

Spinach Smoothie with a ‘kick’

In your smoothie maker or blender, whizz together all of the following:-

1 good handful of young spinach leaves, washed and drained.
1 banana (chopped)
1 mango (chopped)
1 good pinch of cayenne pepper (add more to taste, as required)

Blend everything together until you get a smooth mixture, add ice cubes if required and thin the mixture if necessary with some cooled green tea that is packed full of antioxidants.
frozen fruit

Basic Spinach Smoothie With Frozen Fruit

The frozen fruits in this recipe give the smoothies a really creamy taste and consistency.  Whizz everything together in the smoothie maker or blender and enjoy!
8 oz of frozen berries – either single variety or mixed.
4 oz baby spinach
¾ cup of fruit juice (grape juice is nice in this recipe)
¼ cup of cooled green tea or use all green tea and leave out the fruit juice
1 tablespoon freshly ground flax seeds
1 tablespoon chopped nuts, either walnuts or cashew nuts

I hope these recipes will help you to discover for yourself the positive health benefits of spinach smoothies.

By Alison Graham