If your back-to-school mornings are a blur of grab-and-go breakfasts, there's a simple, fast way to bring together delicious and nutritious ingredients for your family: smoothies.
Making a fruit- or veggie-filled shake or smoothie is so easy even kids can do it.
A recent three-month study provided middle school students with a budget to purchase a medley of healthy fruits and veggies along with a blender. After making themselves smoothies each day for breakfast, it was estimated that each child consumed around 20 pounds of vegetables throughout that 90-day period of time. Even better, cholesterol levels fell for most participants.
Smoothies can provide potassium, calcium, fiber and other nutrients missing from many children’s diets.
Try the recipe: 11 easy smoothies to beat breakfast boredom
When preparing your mix, these are the top ingredients for a super smoothie:
These small seeds can hold up to 9 times their weight in liquid, which makes their ability to form a gel a perfect addition to thicken a smoothie. They expand in your stomach, keeping you full for longer, plus, their high protein and fiber content boost satiety.
An ounce of chia seeds provides over 4.4 grams of high quality protein, 8.7 grams of fat (most of which are omega-3 fatty acids) and 12.4 grams of carbohydrates.
Chia weighs in with 4 grams of fiber per serving to help meet one-third of your daily fiber needs.
The good and bad news about chia is that it has no taste, so although it’s not big on flavor, it pairs well with almost anything.
It's time to think outside the bowl when it comes to oats. This grain, rich in soluble fiber, can help slash cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar. A tablespoon of oat bran can add almost 3 grams of fiber with only 35 calories.
When it comes to fiber, flaxseed contains both the insoluble and soluble types important for gastrointestinal health as well as for stabilizing blood sugar levels and reducing cholesterol levels. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s, those "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects as well as reduce inflammation, thereby cutting the risks of diabetes.
The healthy fats nestled within almonds and almond butter are low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat, both of which help reduce the low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol. Added to a smoothie, this plant protein helps provide long-lasting energy.
Try the recipe: A delicious cherry almond smoothie
Fruits and vegetables
Be creative! Countless studies have shown that produce can reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and cut risks of diabetes and cancer. Even those of you who turn up your nose to certain veggies may not mind them when they’re combined with your favorite fruits. Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables so that there’s no excuse for not having produce available. Today’s spotted bananas too mushy for peeling and eating will make a perfect partner when frozen and added to a smoothie.
Milk and milk substitutes
The items in the “milk” section of the supermarket has become confusing and overwhelming, so be sure to read labels carefully to see what you’re really getting. Not all “milks” are created equal and most are not even milk as we know it.
Fill your blender bowl the night before and store in the fridge
This way you just have to push a button to create a breakfast that will help get you through those morning carpools and meetings.
Keep the blender in full view on your countertop; if you have to reach for it in your cabinet, it's less likely that any of the above will happen on a regular basis.