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    Archive for the ‘smoothies’ Category

    Q &A Roundup #2

    Another compilation of thoughtful questions courtesy of Small Bites readers. Enjoy!

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    Out With The Old, In With The New

    Many moms and dads all over the United States know what the start of the school year means — packing a lunch for their children!

    So how do you pack an interesting and tasty lunch (which, for this posting’s sake, I will assume can not be heated in school)? Here are a few ideas.

    INSTEAD OF: Cutting a sandwich into two triangular pieces
    TRY: Shaped sandwiches

    Next time you make a sandwich, get your cookie cutter out. Forget the traditional diagonal slice and instead turn that square slice of bread into a star, a cat, or even a gingerbread man.

    PS: If your kids don’t dig whole wheat “brown” sandwiches, try a “halfie.”

    A sandwich made with one slice of 100% whole wheat bread and another of white bread still packs in 3 to 4 grams of fiber.

    INSTEAD OF: Packaged chips
    TRY: Making your own pita chips

    Here’s a kid-friendly way to boost a bagged lunch’s fiber content.

    Buy 100% whole wheat pitas and cut each one into eight small triangles. Brush a thin coating of extra virgin olive oil on them, sprinkle a little salt (and, for an extra kick, either some paprika, rosemary, or oregano), and toss them in the oven (350 Fahrenheit) for approximately 20 minutes.

    For a sweet twist, sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of sugar (a mere 16 calories) over them.

    Make a big batch on Sunday afternoon for the rest of the week.

    INSTEAD OF: Sugary puddings
    TRY: A Super Smoothie

    In a blender, mix two of your child’s favorite fruits with 2% milk. Add a tablespoon of flaxseed, another of oat bran, mix, and pour into a thermos!

    These two ingredients add nutrition and texture to the smoothie but don’t affect the taste one bit.

    INSTEAD OF: Chocolate brownies or cookies
    TRY: A homemade choco-mix

    Mix a low-sugar, whole grain cereal (like Cheerios), a handful of mixed nuts, and a few chocolate chips or M&M candies into a small zip bag. This way, little bursts of chocolate are surrounded by fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals (as opposed to white flour, sugar, and unhealthy fats.)

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    One Size Does Not Fit All

    Walking around New York City’s West Village yesterday, I came across one of local smoothie chain Juice Generation’s branches.

    The establishment looked pristine, and many of the offerings sounded delicious.

    I walked in, figuring a fruit-based beverage would hit the spot on a hot August day.

    Except for one problem. Their smoothies are available in just one size — 24 ounces.

    I was in the mood for a light, refreshing drink — 12 ounces would have been perfect.

    Why is the “standard” size equivalent to three cups’ worth? Whatever happened to having a choice? Why can’t I opt for a small, medium, or large?

    As a result, a peanut butter and banana smoothie (which would clock in at a reasonable 260 calories for a 12 oz serving) is only available in a much heftier 520 calorie package.

    We all know too well (mainly from Brian Wansink’s research) that when food — or beverages, in this scenario — is in front of us, we finish it, regardless of how large the portion is or how hungry we truly are.

    Ordering a 24 ounce and throwing half of it away was out of the question, and since I wasn’t planning on being home for another 2 hours, there was no chance of saving the rest in the fridge for the next morning.

    It’s a real shame, too, because in many ways this place is a cut above the rest — their smoothies are syrup and puree free, as much of the fruit as possible comes from local farms, and they are well-known for always passing food safety and health inspection checks with flying colors.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Smoothies/Fiber

    Can you explain to me why a smoothie lacks fiber?

    If you’re taking whole fruits that have fiber in them in that form, and simply crushing/pureeing them, but not discarding any parts (still eating everything you’d eat if you ate them whole), how is it that the resulting smoothie lacks fiber?

    I love to throw fruit in the blender as a way to more easily consume a variety of them (and I love the flavors blending!) and it seems to me that the nutritional profile shouldn’t be changing.

    — Daphne
    (Via the blog)

    The smoothies I normally refer to are commercial ones, which use fruit juice concentrates and powders rather than real fruit.

    This churns out low-fiber, high-sugar drinks that do not resemble the nutritional profile of eating, say, an orange.

    These smoothies also tend to contain sugary yogurts or high-fat dairy products, practically turning a refreshing drink into liquid ice cream.

    If you are making smoothies at home with whole fruits, you are in much better shape.

    An even better option?

    Make smoothies with a high-power blender like the Vitamix (in which you can puree and liquefy entire fruits) to get the most nutrition.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Smoothies/Fiber

    Can you explain to me why a smoothie lacks fiber?

    If you’re taking whole fruits that have fiber in them in that form, and simply crushing/pureeing them, but not discarding any parts (still eating everything you’d eat if you ate them whole), how is it that the resulting smoothie lacks fiber?

    I love to throw fruit in the blender as a way to more easily consume a variety of them (and I love the flavors blending!) and it seems to me that the nutritional profile shouldn’t be changing.

    — Daphne
    (Via the blog)

    The smoothies I normally refer to are commercial ones, which use fruit juice concentrates and powders rather than real fruit.

    This churns out low-fiber, high-sugar drinks that do not resemble the nutritional profile of eating, say, an orange.

    These smoothies also tend to contain sugary yogurts or high-fat dairy products, practically turning a refreshing drink into liquid ice cream.

    If you are making smoothies at home with whole fruits, you are in much better shape.

    An even better option?

    Make smoothies with a high-power blender like the Vitamix (in which you can puree and liquefy entire fruits) to get the most nutrition.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    A 12-ounce Cosi blueberry promeganate smoothie contains 544 calories.

    (Note: a 12-ounce can of regular Coca Cola clocks in at 143 calories)

    It goes to show — high caloric values aren’t just found in large portions.

    (Sidenote: Get the 20-ounce “gigante”, and sip away 1,087 calories!)

    It’s crazy to think that this 12-ounce beverage packs almost twice as many calories as a large fountain beverage from McDonald’s.

    Cosi advertises it as a “blend of frozen fruit with a green tea base,” which helps to explain the astounding caloric value of this smoothie.

    Bases are often sugar-loaded flavor agents.

    They were smart in choosing a green tea one because it delivers sweet flavor while still sounding “healthy.”

    A lot of people have this concept that anything with green tea in it is automatically healthy or low-calorie. I’m afraid that ain’t so.

    Food companies know this, which is why I was not surprised to see Haagen Dazs’ new green tea ice cream flavor at the store earlier this week.

    The fact is, smoothies are not an optimal source of nutrition.

    The overwhelming majority are excessively sugared (we’re talking 6 to 8 tablespoons of sugar on average for a 12 ounce!) and don’t deliver any of the fiber present in a piece of fruit.

    Since liquid calories (particularly those from fruit smoothies, which are lacking fat, fiber, and protein) are not as effective at providing a sense of fullness, it’s very likely you will be hungry soon after finishing such a concoction.

    If they are one of your favorite beverages, feel free to have them, but keep in mind that save one or two exceptions, you are buying an overly sweetened, high-calorie treat, not liquid nutrition.

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