A refreshing and nourishing fruit smoothie might be a perfect way to cool down at home. Smoothies are a magical food as they are both delicious and nutritious. They are also an excellent way to increase our fruit and veggie intake to ensure we are getting lots of vitamins and minerals in our diets, and are a great way to use leftover produce like ripe bananas. There is one downfall to the fruit-only smoothie, and it’s this: although they are initially quite filling, sometimes they leave us feeling hungry and unable to focus again within a few hours. Let’s dive into why this happens, and look at ways we can make sure our smoothies are satiating brain-power enhancers.
As previously mentioned, fruit is full of essential vitamins and minerals that are hard to find in other food groups. They are definitely part of a healthy diet and should be eaten daily. With that said, when fruit or any added sugars are eaten and digested, our bodies break it down into carbohydrates (or glucose, or sugar). Although carbohydrates sometimes get a bad reputation, they are essential for growing children as they are the body’s first source of energy. In saying that, moderation is key and it is easy to overdo the amount of natural sugars in a fruit smoothie. An excess of glucose, even in natural sugars from fruit, causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise, and then quickly drop – think of a roller coaster. How does this manifest in a child’s behaviour? Think hyperactivity and potential behavioural problems initially, followed by the need for a nap or snacks soon after. When the body is experiencing a spike in blood sugar, studies report an increase in brain fog and an inability to concentrate, as well as behavioural problems. When the crash happens, fatigue sets in and it becomes challenging to stay on task.
So, how can we ensure our kiddos get the delicious breakfast smoothies they love while making sure they don’t fall victim to the blood sugar roller coaster and become hungry again right away? The answer is simple: mix up the fruit with sources of healthy fats, add sources of protein, and increase the fibre in your smoothies. Healthy fats, protein, and fibre all slow down digestion, meaning blood sugar levels rise and fall slower and with more stability. This ultimately allows students to maintain focus and stay full for much longer than when given a fruit only smoothie. So what can you add to your smoothies for blood sugar balance?
Delicious and affordable additions to your smoothie that contain both healthy fats and protein (a 2 for 1 special) include foods like 2% milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and seeds (chia, flaxseeds, any seed), Nuts and unsweetened nut butters can also do the job, and unsweetened seed butters (try sunflower or pumpkin seed butter) are great for nut-free alternatives. For an extra bit of fibre, spinach or any green leafy vegetable, the chia and flax seeds mentioned above, and even whole grain oats can be an easy addition. Try adding any of the above to your next summer smoothie and you will be sure to both see and feel the difference of a well-balanced breakfast smoothie.
Serves 2 – Scale up or down as needed
Preparation time: 5 minutes
- 1.5 cups milk (any type, can be dairy free milk or 2% milk for extra healthy fats and protein)
- 1.5 cups frozen blueberries
- 1 large extra ripe banana (riper bananas make sweeter smoothies. Bananas can also be frozen!)
- 2 large handfuls of greens (spinach, baby kale, romaine – whatever!)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp unsweetened nut or seed butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Combine in a blender until smooth. Serve and enjoy!
Serves 2 – Scale up or down as needed
Preparation time: 15 minutes
- 2 cups milk (any type, can be plant based or dairy)
- 5 cups frozen mangos
- 1 large extra ripe banana
- 2 large handfuls of greens (spinach kale- whatever!)
- ½ cup of oats
- ½ avocado
- A few mint leaves
In a blender, combine the oats and the milk. Let soak for 10 minutes.
Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy!