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Recipes for tasty, low-calorie smoothies

March 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Smoothies are a popular snack or meal replacement because many feel they are a good substitute for a meal with all their fruit goodness. But many experts suggest putting the brakes on blender meals due to all the sugar.

While smoothies may offer a nice source of vitamins and minerals from the fruit, they are often high-sugar, high-calorie beverages that don't stay with you too long. There are ways to shake up your smoothie so that it's lower in sugar but whipped up nice and tasty.

Two things to remember: the combinations and the size. Go ahead and pick a fruit, but you may want to add a veggie to boot along with a nice protein, even a fat source to keep you feeling pretty even.

For example, a cup of grapes, a cup of spinach and a half can of Trader Joe's light coconut milk and ice. Your smoothie will cost you about 280 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and a bit of fat as well, but that concoction serves up a bit of iron and, for eye health, the plant chemical lutein.

If green doesn't get it for you, orange is a good bet. Add 3/4 cup of pineapple, 1/3 cup of orange juice, 1/4 cup of carrots and half a banana. This only has 159 calories, 1 gram of fat, and as much fiber as a serving of oatmeal in a smooth, frosty glass.

Almost all of us know that banana (1/2) and berries (3/4 cup) marry well, but make it better with a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter and 3/4 cup of skim milk. Fiber is king with raspberries. You'll get 7 grams if you use them along with 14 grams of heart-healthy fat and 10 grams of protein for about 275 calories.

What sounds kind of yucky to many can actually be yummy if you blend it up real good. Try 3/4 cup of chopped kale with stems and ribs removed, a celery stalk, half a banana, 1/2 cup of apple juice and a squeeze of lemon juice. This is one of the lowest in calories at a mere 139. You're also looking at a drink that is lower in sugar than most of the others. But it only has 3 grams of protein so look at this as a quick pick me up.

The drinks we showed today offer 25 grams of natural sugar beating out most that run in the 40 to 45 grams range. All of them were adapted from the February issue of Real Simple magazine. They have quite a few more to try at www.realsimple.com.

One Food Coach favorite not in the magazine is: 1/2 cup of low sugar, high protein Greek yogurt, a quarter of heart-healthy smooth and creamy avocado, about eight cashews and a cup of of low sugar fruit such as cantaloupe- all ingredients that do a body good. A one cup serving is 200 calories, 9 grams of protein and 11 grams of fat with about 12 grams of natural sugar.

Keep in mind that portion control really counts here. Your smoothies should be 8 to 12 ounces, not 32.