Fruit smoothies are such an easy way to increase our fruit consumption. We have been told by nutritionists that we should be eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Yet how many of us would actually consume that many fruits and vegetables? But a smoothie a day can easily account for all of our fruit and some of our daily vegetable intake.
So, what actually constitutes a serve?
For fruit, one serving is a medium apple, banana, orange or pear, two plums, apricots or kiwifruit. Apart from simply eating a piece of fruit, one of the easiest and tastiest ways of getting that serving is a fruit smoothie.
Throw a banana and another piece of fruit into a blender and you instantly have your day’s quota of fruit. Add in some greens, dairy and protein, and you increase that quota for other foods as well. It then becomes a complete meal in a glass. A meal which can easily be drunk, any time of day and anywhere. Use our fruit smoothie recipes as a guide to create your own.
Fruits are loaded with antioxidants. It’s what gives them their vibrant colors. Studies show that people with diets high in fruit reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and enjoy better memory and eyesight.
Although different varieties contain varying amounts of and different nutrients, most contain large amounts of Vitamins A and C.
The obvious choice here would appear to be fresh, but that’s only if bought soon after being picked and hasn’t spoiled. Fresh fruit must be eaten within 1 – 2 days after buying, otherwise it will spoil with an accompanying loss of nutrients.
The obvious solution is to buy when fresh and in season and then freeze for later. In fact this is the most economical way. Fruit is at its cheapest when in season, particularly if you purchase in bulk.
The other option is to buy fruit that has already been frozen. This is often the only option in winter. Ready frozen fruit is a good alternative to fresh. It is flash-frozen soon after being picked and therefore retains most of its nutrients, but make sure you buy the ones without sugar.
The benefit of using frozen fruit is that it chills your smoothies and makes them thick and creamy. A combination of fresh and frozen fruit is the ideal way to make a smoothie.
Although canned fruits do not lose as many nutrients as vegetables because they are processed at lower temperatures, they are often packed in syrup which is high in sugar. If you have no alternative but to use the canned variety, look for fruit canned in natural juice.
Dried fruits still contain plenty of antioxidants and some people prefer the taste or texture of certain dried fruits over fresh ones. Indeed dried cranberries tend to be much less tart than the fresh variety.
Drying concentrates the sugars and the flavors so smoothies made with dried fruit are sweeter than those made with fresh. But it also concentrates the fiber, which gives your smoothies more of a cleansing effect.
When buying check the label for added sugar. Because their size has been reduced its easy to overeat dried fruit getting far more calories than we need. When adding to your smoothies, you only need about a quarter of a cup. However, if you are substituting dried fruit for fresh, extra liquid will need to be added.
The alternative is to reconstitute the dried fruit. To do this, add whole, sliced or halved dried fruit into a small heatproof bowl then pour over enough boiling water so that it’s completely covered. Leave to steep for between 30 minutes to one hour or until plump and soft. Drain, chop and add to the blender.
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