I ruled out smoothies as a reasonable part of my diet quite some time ago. With my hypoglycemia, all of the bananas, mangos, pineapple, and raw honey were decidedly counterproductive. Blood sugar crash guaranteed. I also discovered that soy protein powders weren’t a good option because of my hypothyroidism and female hormone imbalances. Not to mention that smoothies didn’t seem to satisfy me for more than forty-five minutes.
Lately, however, I’ve been dallying with smoothies again. They are one of the nutritional experiments to which I referred a few weeks ago. It was The Truth about Beauty by Kat James that inspired me to give the ubiquitous smoothie another shot–but with a few twists. So far, it’s working. Here’s what I’ve been doing to make smoothies a viable option for me, blood sugar problems and all:
OUT: soy milk (hormonal concerns), rice milk (too sweet), pasteurized milk (hard to digest, lower vitamin content, and exacerbates allergies), commercially sweetened yogurts (duh), skim milk
IN: 8 ounces of whole raw cow milk, raw goat milk, or whole kefir or yogurt made from said raw milks (homemade nut milks or diluted coconut milk would work too)
Fat slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, thus making the overall meal lower glycemic. High quality dairy fat (from organic, grass-fed cows) also has many other health benefits, particularly in relation to fertility. Kefir and yogurt are lower glycemic than plain milk because bacteria have already eaten most of the milk sugars (lactose) and converted them to lactic acid.
OUT: none, since the standard advice has been, “Fat is E.V.I.L. Run away!”
IN: 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Not only does fat lower the glycemic index of the smoothie, it keeps you full longer. Even better, coconut oil boosts the metabolism and supports the thyroid. Nice!
OUT: bananas, mangos, papaya, pineapple, and grapes
IN: just berries–strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
Berries are high in fiber and low in sugar, making them a perfect choice for the hypoglycemic or diabetic. I use them frozen. Occasionally, I throw in a fresh pear or peach with the skin, both of which are still much lower in sugar than tropical fruits.
OUT: soy anything
IN: raw eggs from free-range hens or unsweetened hemp protein powder (a good-quality, unsweetened whey powder would work too; I just haven’t tried one yet)
Raw eggs from well-kept, free-range hens are extremely safe, contrary to popular belief. They provide an excellent source of protein with lots of health benefits. They are undetectable in a smoothie, so you don’t need to worry about taste or texture. I add them in at the very end while blending on low speed. Supposedly, blending eggs vigorously damages the proteins. I don’t know if this is really true, but I figure, “Why not slow down the blender?”
Hemp protein may not taste great, but it surely packs a nutritional punch with GLA and tons of fiber. I bought the Nutiva brand, which is available at a steep discount at Vitacost.
OUT: is there any fiber in traditional smoothies?
IN: coconut fiber (also called coconut flour) and/or hemp protein powder
Like fat, fiber slows down our digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, which keeps blood sugar levels steady. Raising blood sugar too quickly is often what leads to a blood sugar low, so a slow, steady rise in blood sugar is most desirable.
OUT: sugar, unrefined sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave nectar
IN: stevia (I strongly prefer NuNaturals brand); xylitol and erythritol would also be good options, though I don’t particularly care for them myself (they make me feel thirsty)
Many people use agave nectar as a low-glycemic option, and I did too for a while. But I’ve read enough unsettling information about it that I’m going to keep it out of my pantry for now. The jury’s still out on it.
IN: a few leaves of lettuce or spinach, a greens powder
I don’t always add the greens, though I look forward to experimenting more with green smoothies in the future.
Blending up these ingredients with a little ice has produced some very tasty and filling meals for me that don’t seem to lead to blood sugar lows. I think it helps that it take me, easily, an hour to drink a smoothie. I just sip on it steadily. Only time will tell if smoothies will work for me long-term, but I’m quite happy at the moment.
Do you have any other ideas or tips for low-glycemic smoothies? What works for you? I’m very interested to know!
Thanks for hosting Kitchen Tip Tuesday, Tammy!