Smoothies, blends and juices are fun to make and to share. Invent fruit-filled concoctions, or skip the coffee and share a vitamin-packed blend or a smoothie with a friend. How wonderful that something so healthy should also taste so good.
A brief history of blends and juices
Hippocrates recognised the healing power of certain foods. He said: "Let food be your medicine."
Since time immemorial, food, water and healing herbs have been the cornerstones of the healing arts.
In the 19th century, doctors and naturopaths were using fresh fruit and vegetable blends to improve their patients' health. Many well-known pioneers were responsible for major discoveries about the therapeutic properties of blends and juices.
People such as Dr Kellogg, Father Kneipp, Dr Max Bircher-Bener and Dr Max Gerson all helped to popularize the notion of the "juice cure."
The natural way to health
In our modern, fast-paced lives, health drinks provide easy-to-make snacks, quick breakfasts and fast energy boosters. Kitchen appliances like blenders, food processors and juicers have made the preparation of blends and juices quick and easy.
Smoothies, shakes and blends are a convenient way to achieve your five portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
In addition to their more general health-boosting properties, smoothies and blends are also touted for helping speed recovery from illness and as part of anti-ageing regimes.
Many benefits are often overemphasised. Nevertheless, freshly made fruit and vegetable smoothies and blends provide many of the essential vitamins and minerals that are vital for long and healthy life.
Blenders are best for smoothies
Smoothies made in a blender differ from juices made in a juicer. In one very important way.
Smoothies made in a blender retain the fibre of the fruit and vegetables.
Fibre is not only important for healthy digestion, but also for cardiovascular health and for helping balance blood sugar levels.
When choosing equipment, bear in mind that fibre is valuable in the diet. While juicing will not replace eating whole foods, smoothies and other blended drinks are nutritionally equivalent to eating the whole fruit.
However, nutritional guidelines state that one glass of juice does not count towards the recommended total daily intake of five portions of fruit and vegetables.
Smoothies, blends and juices - packing a calorie punch?
Just a final point. It can be easy to get caught up with the hype and excitement in creating your custom recipe.
A handful of this, a scoop of that, a splash of juice to thin it out. Things add up. Just because you can cram loads of fruit, vegetables and other ingredients into a single smoothie, doesn't mean you should.
As with all foods, it's important to keep in mind relative quantities and portion sizes. A good general rule is if you wouldn't eat all the food separately in one sitting, don't combine it into a single smoothie.
By the time you've added a banana, chopped apple, half an avocado and a tablespoon of peanut butter - you're already facing a smoothie that contains 398 calories (1665kJ). Depending on your calorific needs and activity levels, this may be an excess in your daily consumption.
If you stay mindful, choose ingredients wisely and experiment, smoothies can be a great way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Not only that, but you can also really boost the number of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals in your daily diet.
Get my FREE smoothie recipes
Feeling inspired? Grab a free copy of some of my favourite smoothie recipes. I make one of these most morning.
Quick, simple and delicious I can whip up one of these fast than my toaster can toast my bread! Each recipe contains nutrition information, macronutrient breakdown and a handy dandy barcode for easy calorie tracking using MyFitnessPal.