I love smoothies, especially in the summer. They are easy to make, delicious, and supposedly good for you.
The first time I noticed that they might not be as good for me as I thought was when I started suffering from chronic acid reflux. There are many triggers for acid reflux including chocolate, spicy foods, and tomato-based sauces, but I noticed that sugar was one of mine. Suddenly, every time I had a smoothie in the morning, I would end up suffering from a really bad case of acid reflux.
At about the same time, I started reading about how smoothies can actually be really bad for you. It’s not so much that they have a lot of sugar in them (although they do), but more about how blending the fruit changes the way in which we process the sugars in it. It turns out that chewing allows our body to break down fibers and sugars at a slower pace, which is extremely important to ensure that they are absorbed correctly. According to this article by Mother Jones, “the sugary jolt” that you get from smoothies “can trigger an insulin response, and thus push your body in the direction of metabolic conditions, including unwanted weight gain, insulin resistance, or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.”
Now, I’m not saying that smoothies are evil. In the article, an expert even concedes that there’s not enough evidence to draw a direct link between smoothies and obesity and argues that smoothies are a better snack than potato chips or other fast foods. I’m just saying that maybe we should consider having smoothies only occasionally and try our hardest to use as little fruit in them as possible.
Which brings me to… This No-Fruit Smoothie
As I said, I love smoothies, so I was determined to figure out a way to make a no-fruit smoothie that still tasted delicious.
The solution? My favorite vegetable: beets.
Beets are not only packed with nutrients, but they are also just sweet enough to replace fruit in any smoothie. An added plus is that they turn your smoothie the prettiest shade of pink.
I love roasting beets to bring out their flavor and sweetness. I usually make a big batch on Sundays and use them in salads, smoothies, or grain bowls throughout the week. You can even put them in hummus!
In addition to the beets, this no-fruit smoothie also features baby spinach, almond butter, chia seeds, and almond milk. The almond butter makes it rich and creamy and adds a boost of protein that fills you up. It also makes this the perfect post-workout smoothie.
If you are having some trouble getting used to the earthiness of the beet because you are used to sweater smoothies, feel free to add a date to this smoothie. It’s sweet enough without it for me, but it’s your smoothie, and it should make you happy. 🙂
Since it’s winter and it’s super chilly in the morning, I didn’t add any ice to this smoothie. You can definitely go ahead an add it if you want to, but I wouldn’t put more than half a cup of ice cubes in it to avoid diluting the flavors too much.
No-Fruit Pink Smoothie
This no-fruit pink smoothie gets its beautiful color and sweetness from roasted beets and its creaminess from a bit of almond butter. It's the perfect breakfast or post-workout snack.
- One small red beet
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- A big handful of baby spinach
- One cup almond milk (or any other alternative milk)
- I teaspoon of chia seeds
- 1 date (optional)
- Step 1 To roast the beets: I like to make a big batch of roasted beets on Sundays and eat them throughout the week. To roast them, preheat your oven to 400℉. Wrap each beet in foil (you can wrap several of them together if they are small) and place them on a baking sheet. Once the oven is hot, slide the tray in and bake them for 50-60 min. You will know that they are done when you can easily pierce them with a knife. To peel them, let them cool for a bit, take a moist paper towel, and use it to scrub the skin off. If the beets are properly roasted, the skin should come right off. Store them in a air-tight container or in the same foil that you used to roast them until you are ready to use them. They should keep for 4-5 days.
- Step 2 To make the smoothie: quarter the beet and put it in a high-speed blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth and garnish it with some chia seeds. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you might need to soak the date overnight to make sure that it breaks down.