Aside from the fact that a juice or smoothie is more appealing than a bulky meal in the summer, have you wondered about the the actual health benefits of these refreshing drinks? To find out, we ask Elizabeth Schieffelin, the founder of Lizzy’s All Natural and holistic health coach, some big questions about the pros and cons of smoothies and juices, her recommendations for some great recipes for healthy drinks that your kids would love.
Urban Family: What are the essential differences between smoothies and juices?
Elizabeth: Although the terms ‘juice’ and ‘smoothie’ are sometimes used interchangeably, there are actually huge differences. Juicing is a process that separates water and nutrients from produce and discards indigestible fiber. Without the fiber, your body can easily absorb the readily available nutrients and your digestive system can take a rest. It is much easier and faster to drink a huge bowl of juiced kale than to try to chew through it.
Smoothies on the other hand, are blends of entire vegetables, fruits, nuts and more. The blending process breaks the fiber apart, making the produce easier to digest, but maintains the fiber in the drink (unlike juicing). The fiber helps to create a balanced, slower release of nutrients into the blood which is more sustainable and less of a shock to the body.
Urban Family: Some people say smoothies aren’t as healthy as we are led to believe. Is that true?
Elizabeth: Quick absorption of liquid can lead to rapid, unstable blood sugar spikes. This can be hard on the liver and result in mood swings, energy loss, memory problems, fat storage through the release of the hormone insulin and more.
Many smoothie chains gave smoothies a bad reputation by using frozen yogurts or juice concentrates as bases, blending loads of fruits and sweeteners for a delicious taste and serving jumbo sized cups.
Pasteurization technology has successfully protected the population over time by preventing bacteria growth and illness, however, the high heat levels unfortunately kill not just the ‘bad’ but much of the good; for example, vitamin C.
Urban Family: What can be done to avoid those issues?
Elizabeth: Limit the serving size to 300ml, which is large enough to pack massive amount of nutrients without overloading. Listen to your body! You will understand what will make you feel best. More is not always better.
The key is to make or buy smoothies that are a balance of fruits to other superfoods and vegetables. The same goes for added sweeteners like honey, coconut sugar, etc. It all adds up over time so be mindful of portion control and what else you are eating to balance it.
Pasteurization also kills the probiotics naturally occurring in and on many fresh items that would otherwise help your gut flora thrive. Lizzy’s All Natural smoothies are made fresh with no pasteurization, additives or preservatives.
the recipe for Berry Delight
Urban Family: Can smoothies be used as meal replacements?
Elizabeth: For sure, but in moderation. If you feel the afternoon slump post-lunch this is usually because most of your energy has moved to your digestive tract. To reduce or eliminate the afternoon sleepy brain fog feeling, try swapping your meal for a nutritious smoothie. You will find you have more energy and a clearer mind.
Including a raw smoothie in your diet on a regular basis will help counteract the toxins we consume on a daily basis. Depending on the contents, a smoothie can make for great partial-meal or full-meal replacements! They are, after all, blended whole foods. Especially for those of you who live life on-the-go, if you lack the time to eat a whole big salad, blend it!
By blending your fresh vegetables, fruits and superfoods, the blender does the ‘chewing’ for you. It rips apart the fibers and opens up the cell walls of the food, allowing for a more bioavailable meal. This means your body has a better chance to absorb more of the nutrient potential in food and it takes less work to do so.
Urban Family: How do we make a green smoothie taste less ‘green’?
Elizabeth: Choose vegetables that do not have the strong, bitter taste. Spinach, zucchini and cauliflower can be hidden very well into any smoothie without really affecting the taste. Kale, collards and broccoli, on the other hand, have much stronger and more pronounced taste. If you want to include kale but don't want the bitterness, use only the leaves and keep the stalks out.
The colder the drink is, the better it will taste. To achieve a ‘creamier’ texture, using frozen avocado, frozen cauliflower, frozen banana or frozen mango will greatly help. You can also use frozen fruit or ice to cool a drink down if you are drinking it immediately.
I love to add in fresh lemon or lime to my green smoothies to brighten the flavor, but also to help with the mineral absorption of the vegetables. When minerals like iron are paired with the vitamin C citrus, our bodies can more easily absorb the goodness.
Herbs can also do wonders to mask flavors of greens. My go-to is mint. Basil, Coriander, Lemongrass, Lemon Verbena are also great choices.
the recipe for Spiced Apple Tea
Urban Family: How important is using organic ingredients?
Elizabeth: Since I started making smoothies, the quality of the ingredients has mattered just as much, if not more so, than the quantity or specific formulation. If you are drinking a green smoothie full of kale, spinach, cucumber and apple that has been sourced from a conventional farm and has not been properly washed you may end up drinking more pesticides than vitamins. In a perfect world, we would be able to source local, organic and seasonal produce every day.
All of my smoothie recipes draw upon my nutrition background and health coaching experience. They are carefully blended with each combination of ingredients serving a purpose – to ensure your body is getting what it needs. I use an ideal balance of vegetarian protein sources and carbohydrates and only the cleanest, freshest produce and superfood ingredients. After all, a smoothie will only be as good as the produce you put into it. My smoothies are raw, easy to digest and more bio-available, giving you more energy for your next workout or adventure!
Urban Family: Can you give us a couple of smoothie recipes that kids would love?
Elizabeth: The Berry Delight is great! You can really taste the strawberry and banana, but you can also sneak in some greens. Especially if you use an opaque cup, your children will have no idea they’re enjoying extra spinach. In the summer, I love to add mint to this recipe for a cooling, refreshing effect. The Spiced Apple Pie is also a great choice for kids. The walnuts are great for brain health and the apple contains prebiotic fiber. It is a sweet treat that makes for the perfect afternoon snack.
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