Fruit or ‘froot’? — assessing your smoothie shop

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer

When I was growing up, cereal choices were not nearly as abundant or creative as what lines the grocery store shelves today. My sister and I each had our Saturday morning favorites, and of course, much to mom’s dismay, good old Froot Loops did approach the top of the list!  At the time, I never thought about why the word “fruit” was misspelled on the cereal box. However, as an adult, the reason is now crystal clear: The “fruit” contained therein was nowhere near the same as the kind found in the Produce aisle.

Today, fruit continues to be misrepresented in many of the products we regularly consume, with the prime offender being the ubiquitous smoothie.  This summer, before our youngest departed for college, I made a last-ditch effort to find easy and convenient ways for her to increase her daily intake of fruits and vegetables, in a format that might be appealing to a teenager on the go. 

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When we discovered the smoothie options available at various popular eateries, we were delighted.  

However, delicious though they may have been, I soon discovered that while the restaurants were advertising “fruit smoothies,” what our daughter was ingesting resembled more of an over-sweetened, processed concentrate blended with ice. Once the sugar content has skyrocketed in such smoothies, a good portion of the nutritional value seems to have plummeted.

To be sure, a smoothie will always be a preferable option to greasy fast food.  However, to guarantee that what you are enjoying truly confers the maximum nutritional benefits, it might be best to invest in a blender and prepare your smoothies at home. This can be a fun and creative activity, especially once kids gets involved,  and it also is a great way to use up fruit that just might have been sitting in the refrigerator drawer a bit too long.  Overripe fruit actually works best for blending.  When choosing complementary ingredients to add to the fruit and ice, tap into your ingenuity and try some different combinations.

When enjoying smoothies made at home, you can be assured of an increase in antioxidants and fiber content, which can often be destroyed when commercially processed.  So, when the craving strikes, pass on the “froot” and whip up the real thing.

Here are a few recipes to get you started on your easy route to better health:

Oatmeal/Strawberry Breakfast Smoothie

3/4 cup soy milk

1/4 cup rolled oats

8 strawberries

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 banana

1 teaspoon honey

Place the oats, soy milk, banana and strawberries in your blender. Add the honey and vanilla and then blend about 30 seconds until smooth.

Tropical Fruit Smoothie

2 cups soy milk or skim milk

2/3 cup roughly chopped firm tofu (about 2 1/2-ounces)

1/2 cup frozen roughly chopped papaya

1/2 cup frozen roughly chopped pineapple

1/2 cup frozen roughly chopped mango

1 tablespoon honey, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend, pulsing the machine if necessary, until smooth. Make sure the honey is dissolved. Serve immediately.

 

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a Health Coach and longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. Her weekly Jewish Light blog is posted each Thursday.