HR-shutterstock_313752311Healthy living advice, recipes and reviews

Are smoothies for you?
What do professional body-builders and eight-month-old babies have in common? Both groups consume their meals in a blended semi-liquid form. While protein shakes and fruit smoothies have been popular with health buffs for several years, they have recently gained mass popularity thanks to social media. Engines like Instagram and Facebook depict thousands of photos of weird and wonderful concoctions in mason jars, glasses and on-the-go bottles. Even our own Jackson Biko had his fair share of gloopy green drinks earlier this year.

Why the hype?
They are a quick and easy way to consume high amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. They are tasty and convenient to carry and drink on the go. They also promote satiety and help regulate digestion because they are high in fibre. But remember, just because something is blended does not automatically make it healthy. Fruits, vegetables, milk, raw nut butters and seeds are certainly nutritious. However, some ‘health’ shakes contain unhealthy additives such as high fructose corn syrup, maltase, dextrose, and glucose. Also, dieticians recommend including a variety of green vegetables to balance the high fructose levels from fruit smoothies.

What can you put in a smoothie?
You can put virtually anything in a smoothie. The best smoothies typically contain fruit, vegetables, a liquid base and protein. Recommended liquids include coconut water and nut milks. You can add powdered superfood supplements and even fresh herbs and seeds.

Are smoothies safe for babies?
So long as you follow paediatric weaning guidelines regarding which foods to introduce from six months of age, smoothies are great for little kids. Simple combinations such as avocado and mango make tasty snacks. Parents love giving smoothies to fussy eaters as a way to include more vegetables in their diet.

7 super-foods to add to your smoothie
Chia seeds Brain food, energy, regulates bowel movements, high in Omega 3s.  Powdered mushroom Anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, fatigue fighting foods for stamina and endurance.
Spirulina A natural blood booster, high in iron, protein and the best vegan source of stress busting vitamin B12.
Maca Libido booster and energy powerhouse.
Hemp powder A potent protein and nutrient source.
Cacao A healthy alternative to chocolate. A natural source of caffeine, it is an optimal morning pick-me-up.
Moringa For vitamin C, iron and magnesium.

Recipe for Chocolate Cashew Smoothie
1 banana, sliced and frozen
2 dates (or honey or a few drops of liquid Stevia)
¾ cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cashew butter or raw unrefined peanut butter
2 tbsp raw cacao powder, or natural cocoa powder
1 tbsp Greek yoghurt. (If you are vegan you can use whipped coconut cream)
2 tsp raw cacao nibs or grated dark chocolate

1 Add all the ingredients except yoghurt and cacao nibs to a blender. Blend until completely smooth.
2 Serve topped with a spoonful of yoghurt and cacao nibs or grated chocolate.

Top tip
• If you are a smoothie- addict, invest in a heavy-duty blender such as the Vitamix, Blendtec, Breville, Berg or Enpee. These can quickly pulverise nuts, seeds, and fibrous vegetables. If you merely dabble, an affordable immersion hand-blender is convenient and easy to clean.
• Be prepared – on Sunday afternoons, chop all your fruits and veggies for your week’s smoothies. Put them in individual ziplock bags and freeze. Thaw out for an hour each morning, blitz in your blender and go.

Did you know?
Many athletes on a vegan diet add high-protein  bean powder or freshly boiled beans to their pre- and post-workout smoothies. A cup of black beans contains 42 grams of protein, nearly the entire RDA for a woman. Another favourite is fermented brown rice powder, a vegan equivalent to whey protein. Seed and nut butters are also high in protein and good fats.

Want to know more? Need recipe inspiration? Try this: the 10 Day Detox guide by Kenyan fitness guru Jane Mukami. Available on Amazon.