Spruce Up Your Smoothie
Smoothies are popular with my clients for good reason. They are a great way to get in quality nutrients which can be challenging during cancer treatment. They’re quick to make and since you can take sips over time, it lessens the pressure to complete a meal.
My go-to “smoothie starter” is a banana and Lifeway Kefir cultured lowfat milk smoothie. Besides simply loving the the tart taste blended with various ingredients, it’s chock-full of nutrients and rich in probiotics. Probiotics are an important part of overall health as they help maintain a healthy gut. This is due to the live strains of good bacteria it contains, which is even more than yogurt. In addition, it contains 11 grams of protein per cup (that’s 3 more grams than milk) and is a good source of vitamin A and B vitamins and an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D. Here’s another pro, even though it’s dairy, it’s generally well tolerated by people who suffer from lactose intolerance since the live cultures in the Kefir create the enzyme lactase that digests lactose. In other words, most of the lactose is predigested.
I like Kefir as the milk base, but you can use lowfat milk or a milk alternative such as soy milk or almond milk. The possible smoothie combinations are endless so I’m sure something will appeal.
Calcium and vitamin D are key nutrients for cancer patients. Osteoporosis is prevalent in the long-term cancer survivor (> or = 5 years) as certain medications can increase risk of thinning bones. Getting adequate amounts of these nutrients may help limit risk.
If you are going to use protein powder, it is important to read labels to make sure it does not contain the addition of unwanted ingredients. There are also a lot of great non-powder options for additional protein if that’s what you’re looking for. I’m also a big proponent of making your smoothies so you can customize the ingredients. Smoothies purchased outside the home tend to be caloric (from juice and other sweeteners) but not nutrient-dense.
Here are 4 of my favorite tried and true client-tested creations. All start with one medium banana and 2/3 cup Lifeway Kefir lowfat smoothie.
1. Cocoa Almond Smoothie: 2 Tbsp almond butter, 1 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder, 1 vanilla bean, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, 4 ice cubes.
2. PB & Peas Smoothie: 2/3 cup frozen peas (yes, you read that correctly), 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 3 Medjool dates, 1 tsp vanilla, 4 ice cubes
3. Kefir & Kale Smoothie: 1 cup kale, 2 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp almond butter, 4 ice cubes
4. Cherry Espresso Smoothie: 1-2 tsp espresso powder, 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, 2/3 cup frozen cherries
Blend until desired consistency!
Tips And Information:
- If you want to experiment with other add-ins, try nuts and seeds, avocado, tofu, wheat germ, shredded coconut, yogurt and oats.
- Espresso powder contains caffeine, approximately 60-80 mg caffeine (equivalent to a cup of coffee) in one rounded teaspoon.
- When I remember, I chop and freeze a banana the night before and then omit the ice cubes in the smoothie recipe. I find that a little less dilution enhances the flavor of the smoothie!
What are the most “unusual” ingredients that you feel add intrigue to a smoothie?
Some General References:
Oncology Nutrition For Clinical Practice & Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Wendy Kaplan, MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in oncology and weight management in Long Island and in the New York City area. Wendy is the Nutrition Program Director for Mondays at Racine Cancer Care Foundation, a 501c3. Connect with Wendy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and read more of her blog posts and download recipes at Food4HealthRD.com