Drinks are essential for keeping us hydrated and in good health and well-being, but that doesn’t mean we have to stick to the basics. Thanks to the current “smoothie golden age” we are experiencing, most of us know that juiced fruits and vegetables, and smoothies, are an excellent source of micronutrients, vitamins, flavonoids, and pre- and probiotics. This being said, many of us dive into the world of juices and smoothies without really knowing what we’re doing and end up burning our mouths because we put too much ginger in. The following will explore some of the more basic drink-making techniques that you can use at home to get great-tasting drinks that pack a healthy punch.
What’s the Difference Between Smoothies and Juice?
Both smoothies and juices are great for you, but they’re not the same thing. Smoothies are drinks made out of well-blending fruits and vegetables. They tend to be thicker as they contain not only the liquid within the product but also the fiber and anything else that’s part of it. Smoothies are made of countertop machines called blenders. Juices, in contrast, are made in a twin gear juicer or a standard juicer which is a machine that extracts only the liquid from within the product, leaving the pulp and any fibrous material separate (you can then use these leftovers for stellar plant compost if you’re inclined at all towards gardening).
Juices tend to be thinner like water, whereas smoothies are often thicker like milkshakes. As you can imagine, this means that smoothies tend to be more filling and higher in calories than juices. Juices tend to have less fiber than smoothies.
Don’t Include the Sugary Additives
It’s unfortunate that food companies have caught on to the health trend with such a false fervor. They know how to market things to make them appear healthy and part of an excellent smoothie or juice. If you’re looking to keep things healthy, you’re going to want to avoid nearly all of the processed drinks like almond milk, yogurt, soy milk, rice milk, and store-bought juices.
Of course, there are healthy versions of these in existence, but they are far and few between. Take a look at the sugar content, keeping in mind that every four grams of sugar are an entire teaspoon of sugar. You’re going to be shocked at how packed with sugar some of these processed “healthy” beverages are. Even milk isn’t safe. Yes, sometimes they add sugar to milk. Read all the ingredients, and don’t be fooled by artificial sweeteners, cane sugar, honey, maple syrup sugar, or stevia (Stevia messes with your gut bacteria, so it’s not a safe alternative either).
For Smoothies You Want a Smoothing Ingredient
No matter what concoction you find works for you and your smoothies, you’re going to want to include at least one item for the texture. Something like banana or avocado really helps things stay the right consistency and thickness. If you don’t include something like this, you might end up with a watery or chunky feeling smoothie. Neither of those options sounds very appetizing, now do they?
It’s Okay to Start Small
Maybe you’ve gotten on the beet juice train or have recently decided you’re going to get all the leafy greens you need, even if it ruins your day. Remind yourself that you’re on a health journey. It’s okay to start by adding only a pinch of the new superfood you’ve discovered, gradually increasing the quantity you use. Give your taste buds and your body time to adjust to the new flavors. It’s better you get a little bit and finish the drink than you get a whole bunch and pour it out after a few sips.
Fruit Isn’t a Free for All
Yes, fruit is amazing. It’s packed full of antioxidants and other magical qualities that keep us looking young and fresh and protect our bodies from the sorts of things that make aging uncomfortable. This being said, fruit can be quite high in sugar, and natural sugar is still, at the end of the day, sugar. It’s affecting your insulin levels and influencing your hormones. Be wary that you’re not overloading your juices and smoothies with too much fruit because this can have negative effects on your health. It’s better to focus on one or two fruits per drink and fill the rest of the space with veggies than it is to overload every fruit you can find.
Get Gear That Is Easy to Clean
This seems like a side note when it comes to juices and smoothies, but it’s not. It is crucial that you find a blender or juicer that not only does the job you need it to but also isn’t a nightmare to clean. If it is, you’re going to begin to dread your healthy drinks, and you might skip out on them to save yourself the trouble of cleaning up. One of the best tips we have is to rinse out (if not fully clean) your blender or juicer immediately after using it. This way, the fruit, and vegetables won’t have time to solidify and get hard to wash.
Don’t Shy Away from Roots, Herbs, or Spices
It might surprise you to learn that you can put a lot more than your standard fruits and veggies into your smoothies and juices. Roots like ginger and turmeric, herbs like mint or parsley, and spices like cinnamon can all make excellent healthy additions to your smoothies or juices. You might even want to get experimental and try a tomato juice with basil or a lemon and rosemary-infused smoothie.
The above tips should help you enter the world of smoothies and juices on the right foot. Take your time and try out new recipes, you might be surprised to discover that a fruit or vegetable you’ve always disliked you suddenly don’t mind when it’s covered up by the taste of banana and blueberries. Smoothies and juices are also an excellent way to get a wider variety of produce into kids’ tummies.
Photo by Brenda Godinez on Unsplash