Smoothie fasts are one of the most pleasing ways to detoxify your body and peel off extra pounds, if you know what you’re doing. I’ve been a smoothie fan as long as I can remember. Ask my folks, I was raised on them. My family have always been health conscious, we cook most of our own food and we also make our own juices from time to time. I have always had fun while achieving great results from my beloved blender. Here are a few tricks and tips that I can share with those who might like to try this healthy technique.
Make it Fun
If it’s not tasty and enjoyable, then you probably won’t succeed. But it’s really easy to stick to smoothies if you choose deliciously unexpected and enticing ingredients. The sky is the limit! Think of the types of fruits and soluble proteins that you enjoy, and try blending different fruits to make new flavors. Try frozen versions of fruit as a cheaper way to explore flavors and cut down on prep time. Studies prove that flash frozen fruits and veggies have pretty much the same level of nutrition as the fresh fruit you find at the store. If you grow your own, that’s the most nutritious of all, as produce starts to lose its vitamins as soon as it’s harvested. Using local fresh fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market or produce shoppes is the best way to procure that which you do not grow yourself.
Smooth it Out
Use your favorite juices along with coconut, almond or soymilk to liquefy your smoothie if you don’t have or don’t want to use ice. Coconut milk contains medium-chain fatty acids, which are converted efficiently into energy and are not usually stored as fats in the body, so coconut is my first choice to add texture, nutrition and flavor. Almond milk or tropical juice is just as tasty, and has powerful nutritional benefits as well. Water works as well, as long as you don’t add too much and water the final product down too far.
Know your Proteins
Protein powder can add a powerful element to your smoothie, giving you the protein needed to bulk up your muscles while slimming down excess fat. Soy protein is a commonly used protein, and if you are looking to add soy to your diet, it’s a great way to include it. If you’re not looking to include soy, then give whey, egg, rice or hemp protein a shot. Rice protein has the highest concentration of proteins per serving, and it’s highly soluble in liquids. Hempseed is the most nutritious food on the planet, and the nutty protein powder contains plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish. These nutritional lipids, or good fats, are known to have immense health benefits. Peanut butter is delicious, especially in banana honey smoothies, and has great nutrition all around, as it is said by survivalists that peanut butter is one of the foods that one could survive on the longest without variety in the diet. Yogurt is a spectacular protein food you can add, and with the added benefit of the active cultures, which help digestion and encourage the good flora in your internal organs, while eliminating the bad ones. What’s that mean to you? It stokes your metabolism, enhances your immune system, and it’s just really, really good for you!
Indulge in Healthy Oils and Liquid Supplements
Adding a bit of flaxseed oil, wheatgerm oil, or hempseed oil is a fantastic way to pack more of those awesome nutritional lipids like omega-3 and medium chain fatty acids into your drink. Fats are necessary components of our diet, and good fats can soothe cravings and enhance flavor and palatability of your smoothies while adding nutrition. You can also opt for adding a liquid multivitamin or iron supplement to your smoothie for even more nutritional enhancement. Go easy, read the nutritional breakdown on the bottle, as a little goes a long way.
Chocolate is Your Friend
Some of us just need our chocolate fix, and most folks considering a fast think that they are going to be forced to give up chocolate to succeed. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Use a scoop of plain cocoa powder from the baking aisle, just as you would protein powder, to give your favorite smoothie a sinfully tasty kick. It won’t add fat or significant calories. And the nutritious alkaloids and antioxidants contained in cocoa will stoke your furnace and help you detoxify. The theobromine found in chocolate is widely known to enhance metabolic function, and it’s jam packed with nutritional benefits. Carob powder can also be used in place of chocolate for a similar experience. I’ve been known to add a scoop of instant coffee to my morning smoothie, as there are many notable benefits to coffee and so there’s no reason to suffer the indignity of going without your morning coffee just because you’re on a smoothie fast!
Avoid Sugar… Except for Honey
Avoiding too much sugar is a no-brainer when on a smoothie diet, as fruit itself has plenty of it. If you add sugar to your smoothies, you sure won’t lose weight, and you could even gain pounds from empty calories that have been added to your previously super healthy beverage. But, sometimes, our taste buds tell us that that our concoction is too tart. I generally go with the option of adding honey to my drinks. High quality honey has numerous health benefits. From antiseptic qualities to metabolism stoking alkaloids, to immune boosting properties and it’s rich sweetness, there’s no end to the benefits tagged to the consumption of good honey. It’s as nutritious as it is delicious, so don’t be afraid to use a tablespoon or so of high quality honey when your smoothie needs sweetening. But buyer beware: recent studies indicate that the vast majority of “honey” sold on store shelves is highly filtered, and therefore devoid of the specific components that define honey as honey, rendering a refined sugar syrup, and selling it to unwary consumers as real honey. Watch out for the stuff sold in those cute little bears, as well as what is found at fast food restaurants, as chances are that the golden syrup isn’t really honey. Try to acquire honey that has been produced locally, as there is likely a local apiary, or bee farm, near you. You are likely to find it available at farmer’s markets and local produce shoppes. If you read the labels at your grocery store, you may even find local honey sitting on the shelf next to the honey bears with stereotypically ersatz contents. Wildflower honey from local hives is known to have antihistaminic properties, by desensitizing the system to local pollens. Many people include a couple tablespoons into their smoothies or tea just for flavor, without realizing how good for you the honey is.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
If you can’t tolerate sugars, or you don’t want to add the calories of honey, don’t reach for the pink and blue envelopes. I never liked them, I prefer my shakes with honey, raw sugar, stevia or nothing instead of chemical noncaloric sweeteners. Those chemically based sweeteners are toxic enough to ruin a fast completely, are rumored to make one retain water, and have been shown to increase food cravings in those who consume them regularly. Stevia is a much better, natural alternative, made from a plant extract and as calorically insignificant as those nasty fake products. You will regularly find Stevia being used in those fruit flavored nutritional water beverages. It blends very well with natural flavors like fruit, with no aftertaste and it is available in most grocery stores these days under various brand names. Look next to the artificial stuff for a green or white box with a leaf on it, as this is the general marketing scheme for the all-natural ingredient across the different brands of Stevia available.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Tonic Herbs
What’s a tonic? Herbs and plant foods like ginger, ginseng, tea, basil, cranberries, blueberries are all tonic. They rebalance the system and purify the internal organs. They taste great when added to a smoothie, just use small amounts of the more savory and astringent ingredients to make sure you don’t overwhelm the flavor of your drink. Although, once you’re used to making tonic smoothies, you may find yourself going gung-ho, like I do, you may find yourself experimenting with herbal extracts and making a healthy concoction that only its creator can love. Which is great when you make smoothies, everyone is always trying to get in on the act, and you can find your blender emptied by well-meaning fans before you can get yourself one poured. How surprised they might be to find you have spiked your strawberry chocolate with cayenne pepper, but how happy your body will be when you enjoy the unexpectedly healthy and adventurous drink. I started using odd herbs to make tonic smoothies as a young athlete who had some health problems. My mother had done the same at a similar age for similar reasons. I looked into what types of food and medicinal herbs would help me heal up, and made my own medicine. Homeopathy, Asian medicine, folk medicine and Alchemy can be used to concoct your healing potion, and much information is available online for those looking to improve their symptoms.
Vegetables are Tasty Too!
I like to incorporate veggies into my smoothies from time to time, for all sorts of reasons. For me, it goes way beyond homemade veggie juice. You don’t even have to taste the veggies in your smoothie. I like to lower overall sugar and boost fiber by adding a carrot and a celery stick to an Apple Honey Ginger smoothie. Berries, Melon and Cucumber blended with citrus is incredibly refreshing and detoxifying. You won’t taste the vegetables, as carrots are really sweet when juiced or blended, and celery has a refreshingly bland flavor that also goes well with citrus drinks. Kohlrabi, rutabaga, sweet potato, squash, asparagus, snap peas, pumpkin, spinach, leafy greens, tomatoes and even beets go surprisingly well in sweet smoothies. Be adventurous, try anything that’s non toxic when consumed uncooked. Just add them sparingly until you know how much you like in your shake.
There are many ways to go about a smoothie fast, and I’ve enjoyed myself every time I’ve done one. It’s quick, simple, really tasty, and it makes me feel great from the first draught of a properly made smoothie. I’m able to set goals and achieve them when I commit to a smoothie fast, whether it’s cutting weight, gaining lean muscle mass, or improving my basic health, energy and well being. In fact, I think I’ll go make one now.
The Author is a lifelong health food nut, born to a family of athletes and healers of various sorts, all touting the wonderful health benefits of enjoying homemade smoothies. She’s an advocate of healthy eating and has been known to sling a few of her famously hardcore smoothies for her various friends and teammates, if they ask really, really nicely.