Power Shakes: Healthy, On-the-go Meals

Be a Blending Master

There's more to making a great smoothie than tossing everything in a blender and hitting a button. Follow these rules from Cherie Calbom, author of The Ultimate Smoothie Book, to create champion drinks.

Rule #1: Order matters. For better consistency and to prevent blender back-up, liquids should be added first, then soft items like fruit and tofu, followed last by frozen items. "Sticky ingredients like nut butters and protein powders are best added after an initial blending of other ingredients so they don't lodge to the side," says Calbom.

Rule #2: Fruit not Ice. Ice tends to water down smoothies whereas frozen fruit adds a frosty thickness and creaminess. Besides, frozen fruit (especially berries) provide disease-fighting antioxidants sorely lacking in ice cubes. Instead of tossing out bananas that are riper than you'd like, Calbom suggests peeling them and then freezing in an airtight container, ready for use in future blender sessions.

Rule #3: Save leftovers. No need to toss those few ounces that won't fit in your glass. Simply pour the smoothie mixture into popsicle molds and freeze. "They're refreshing on a hot day, and kids will love their new after-school treat," says Calbom.

Sensational Smoothies

Muscle Power Plus
A good balance of protein and carbs to boost recovery after a hard workout

1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup soft tofu
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon wheat germ
1 frozen banana, cut into chunks

Pour milk into blender and add tofu, flaxseed, honey, wheat germ and banana. Blend for a few seconds and then add almond butter and vanilla extract. Continue blending until smooth.

Nutrition facts: 257 calories, 10 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 13 grams total fat, 2 grams saturated fat

Mango Lassi
A satisfying, low-calorie snack

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 medium mango, peeled and cut into chunks (or frozen mango pieces)
1 to 2 teaspoons honey (or molasses)

Combine yogurt in blender with mango and honey and blend on high speed until smooth.

Nutrition facts: 161 calories, 7 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat

Babylonian Breakfast
An on-the-go morning meal full of nutrients and fiber

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons almonds
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

Pour milk into blender and add remaining ingredients. Blend on high speed until smooth.

Nutrition facts: 286 calories, 13 grams protein, 36 grams carbohydrates, 6.5 grams fiber, 10 grams total fat, 2 grams saturated fat

Cocoa Banana
A healthy treat that tastes like an indulgence

1/2 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup frozen banana slices
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour milk into a blender and add banana, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Blend until smooth.

Nutrition facts: 212 calories, 7 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, 5.5 grams fiber, 4 grams total fat, 2.3 grams saturated fat

Recipes from The Ultimate Smoothie Book (Warner Wellness, 2006) by Cherie Calbom.

Matthew G. Kadey is a Toronto-based registered dietitian, freelance writer and photographer (mattkadey.com).

By Matthew G. Kadey, M.S., R.D.
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