Wednesday, September 9, 2015

7 Breakfast Smoothies To Help You Slim Down


We've all been there. You have one of those weeks where you over indulge on food and wine.

Then, when it's all over, you step on the scale and your jaw drops in horror.

First, get off the scale; the scale is not your friend. Second, it's time to take action! When you're not feeling your fittest, having a healthy breakfast regime is so important. Smoothies can be a great way to get enough calories, tons of fruit and veggies, and still help you slim down.

The following smoothie recipes are pulled from this article on Popsugar.com and also from Lauren Conrad's Blog. I made a list of 7 different breakfast smoothies to try, and decided to track their success by taste, preparation needs, how satisfied it left me, and how healthy it was!

Smoothies also needed to be a full breakfast (around 300 calories) and have ingredients that I would generally buy, no kooky supplements or powders I may never use again.

Here's my review of seven slim down smoothies, by taste, prep, hunger satisfaction and health!

*All items below marked with an asterisk were substitutions for soy based products (milk or yogurt)
nutrition was determined by inputting recipes into "my fitness pal" calorie calculator.


Day One: Strawberry Banana Spinach Smoothie (331 calories)



Ingredients
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup almond milk*
  • 1/5 container soft tofu
  • 1/2 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
Rankings
  • Taste - 4/5
  • Prep - 3/5
  • Satisfies - 5/5
  • Health - 4/5
  • Total - 16/20
Grade: A-
This smoothie packed a real punch! I drank it the morning of the City Chase in Toronto and was good to run around all day, needing only a few snacks to keep me going (5 hours of activity!)

Aside from being incredibly filling, the taste was pretty good! I did find it a bit watery, but you could easily pull back on the water to improve that. That said, the ingredients are some of my favourites and easy to come by. 

The volume was a bit much for a "grab and go" smoothie. It took me a while to drink it all, so it was great for the weekend, but would be too much to drink before/on the way to work

I was really happy with how full this smoothie left me (upside of the volume). Health wise, the sodium was a tad high, and the calcium could have been better. Protein was on track though, which is likely what kept me feeling full and energized for the day.


Day Two: Flat Belly-Smoothie (283 calories)



Ingredients:
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 3 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 3/4 cup water

Rankings:
  • Taste - 3/5
  • Prep - 5/5
  • Satisfies - 4/5
  • Health - 3/5
  • Total - 15/20

Grade: B
This smoothie was definitely better on volume than the fist smoothie, though kale doesn't break down super great in my magic bullet... so it was a tad stringy until I gave it an extra blend!

Tasted delicious (pineapple and blueberry, of course!) and kept me full for about 3.5 hours (pretty good!).

Health wise, the calories were a bit low on this one, as were the iron and calcium (I generally like those things). Not a total loss though; sodium was low and protein was high! love to see that.

This was one of my favourite smoothies, even with it's B ranking!


Day Three: Sweet Spinach Smoothie (296 calories)





Ingredients:
  • 2 cups spinach leaves (packed)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped avocado
  • 1 ripe pear, peeled & chopped
  • 15 green grapes
  • 6 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice
Rankings:
  • Taste - 5/5
  • Prep - 4/5
  • Satisfies - 3/5
  • Health - 5/5
  • Total - 17/20
Grade: A
This was my favourite smoothie in the bunch, hands down!

The taste was sensational. With the lime it was almost like having a morning margarita, without the booze and WAY healthier. If it hadn't left me so full I could have had two.

I will say that the recipe needed an additional 1/2 - 3/4 cup water added to give the smoothie a nice consistency, once added it was perfect!

Speaking of full, this one got me through about 3.5 hours, so nearly all the way to lunch time. this could have been a bit better, but a light snack of a few leftover grapes was all I needed to get me to noon.

Health wise, this smoothie was great on potassium, protein, vitamin A and vitamin C. meanwhile, sodium, fat and sugar were all low!



Day Four: Pineapple Kale Smoothie (356 calories)



Ingredients
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 3 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup water
Rankings:
  • Taste - 2/5
  • Prep - 5/5
  • Satisfies - 4/5
  • Health - 4/5
  • Total - 15/20
Grade: B

In spite of being almost identical to the "flat belly smoothie" I didn't like this one! Too much kale I think was the culprit, the smoothie turned out sort of bitter and chewy

In fact, I didn't even finish it. It's not foul... but... no thanks.

Health wise, this one hit almost all the markers. All the right things were low, all the right things were high. The only downside was that the calorie count wasn't quite high enough for breakfast, especially when you can't finish the drink!

I will say though, I was full until just before lunchtime!




Day Five: Almond Strawberry Banana Yogurt Smoothie (358 calories)



Ingredients:
  • 4 large strawberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 3 ounces Greek yogurt*
  • 1 cup almond milk*
  • 12 raw almonds
Rankings:
  • Taste - 5/5
  • Prep - 5/5
  • Satisfies - 3/5
  • Health - 3/5
  • Total - 16/20
Grade: A-

This was the only smoothie on the list that wasn't "green", and because the fruit wasn't competing against spinach or kale, it was DEFINITELY delicious

It's also the highest calorie smoothie on the list (not shocking because of the fruit and nuts) BUT, I found I burned through it really fast. Just as fast if not faster than lower calorie green smoothies.

Health wise, there was nothing particularly WRONG with this smoothie... there just wasn't much great about it either. All vitamin levels were just so-so. I'd recommend it more as an "after workout smoothie" than a "replace breakfast" smoothie.

Day Six: Metabolism Smoothie (343 calories)



Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 6 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 8 almonds
  • 1/4 cup chick peas
  • 3/4 cup iced green tea
  • 1 tsp flax seed oil
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Rankings:
  • Taste - 1/5
  • Prep - 2/5
  • Satisfies - 3/5
  • Health - 2/5
  • Total - 8/20
Grade: F

Ick.

that is the word I would like to use to sum up this smoothie. It tasted AWFUL. Worse than the "pineapple kale" smoothie for sure.

On top of that, this smoothie was hard to prepare (so many items, including iced tea?) and only kept me full for about 3 hours (not quite enough)

Health wise, it was an alright source of fiber, protein and vitamin C, but the fat, sodium and cholesterol were incredibly high, while the other vitamins, calcium and iron were quite low.

NOT recommended.



Day Seven: Revitalizing Kale Smoothie (300 calories)




Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw kale, chopped
  • 1 frozen banana, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 squeeze of lemon
  • mint for garnish (optional)
Rankings:
  • Taste - 5/5
  • Prep - 4/5
  • Satisfies - 4/5
  • Health - 4/5
  • Total - 17/20
Grade: A
The last smoothie in the bunch gets a high recommendation from me. This smoothie was the one taken from Lauren Conrad's blog... so my high hopes were not dissapointed.

I actually managed to make this smoothie with 2 cups of kale, and it still tasted great.

Prep was easy, all good solid ingredients, a little extra water was needed to make the consistency perfect, but really just 1/4 cup at most.

This smoothie kept me full for a full 4 hours, which is awesome, it definitely went the distance.

The pitfalls of this one were that the sodium was a bit high, and the protein wasn't quite high enough (though still good). Other vitamins and minerals were excellent though, and the calories were BANG on what I wanted. 


My Experience:

I am not a believer in dieting, I think it's a pretty unhealthy way to go about losing weight. But the the last time I stepped on the scale and realized I'd gained 10 lbs in a weekend (yep), just over a week before an event where I wanted to look my best, I decided that aside from my standard "drink lots of water and exercise" I would do a week of smoothies for breakfast.



I prepared each in advance by putting the "veggie" items in a freezer bag, so they could be pulled out in the morning and have the remaining ingredients added. Not only was this phenomenal for a "grab and go" breakfast on my way to work, but also my smoothies were REALLY cold!



I lost the weight and then some.

Since then, smoothies have been integrated into my morning routine, though not every day (I generally alternate with oatmeal or an omelette). My four favourites from this experiment are:
  • Strawberry Banana Spinach Smoothie
  • Flat-Belly Smoothie
  • Sweet Spinach Smoothie
  • Revitalizing Kale Smoothie
If you're looking to slim down, integrating a smoothie (even just a few days a week) that is STILL a full breakfast may help you on your goal. It definitely helps you eat enough fruit and veg! But remember, exercising and drinking plenty of water, as well as eating healthy ALL DAY, are still an important part of that process!




up