Don’t underestimate a smoothie bar as a place to get an easy and light meal. Smoothies can be a great way to pack in a variety of plant foods rich in antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients. I generally recommend choosing a smoothie rather than fresh-pressed juice. Smoothies include consumption of the whole fruit and vegetable, which means we get all the nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants that come with the produce. Cold-pressed juices, however, especially those with vegetables or greens, can have a place in a healthy diet as well. But before you run out the door and head to your local smoothie bar, remember that the ingredients matter! Smoothies can be healthy, but they can also be high in added sugar or processed ingredients. Here are some guidelines to help you select a smoothie, whether you are out and about or making at home.
How to make the best smoothie
- Use whole food ingredients. Choose whole fruits and vegetables ingredients instead of juice. Opt for nuts, seeds, or a nut butter as a protein source instead of protein powder. Why? Protein powders are more like a supplement and for the average individual, we don’t need it. In addition, since protein powder is a supplement, it may not be as pure as it claims since the supplement industry is not well regulated.
- Include a source of healthy fat such as almond butter, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, or avocado. Including fat with the meal will help you better absorb the fat-soluble vitamins as well as slow the digestive process down keeping you full longer.
- Include greens. Greens help balance out the fruit while adding additional protein, fiber, and nutrients such as calcium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. This is also an easy way to up your daily intake of greens in a relatively undetectable way.
- Include bright, colorful fruits. Antioxidants are the pigments in brightly colored fruits and vegetables. You can help ensure you are consuming a variety of these protective components by including a colorful array of produce with every meal.
- Add an ingredient that provides texture such as oats or nuts/seeds. The act of chewing promotes the feeling of fullness. You can also eat something with the smoothie to help satiate.
Smoothie bars are everywhere in Charleston and Mt Pleasant. The Main Squeeze in Mt Pleasant is one I have visited. My favorite smoothie is The Banana Baby. The smoothie is made with almond milk, banana, cinnamon, flax, almond butter, honey, and oats. I have ordered it without honey before too and it is just as delicious. You can easily add spinach to this one and the addition of oats helps to make it more filling. The oats add something to chew, along with fiber and plant protein. Other items on the menu I recommend are Avocado Toast, Hummus Toast, and the Pura Vida Acai Bowl. The café uses sprouted grain bread, which makes the grains more digestible. With the acai bowl, try it without granola and add almond butter instead. Granola frequently will have extra sugar and oil.