By Kira Culotta Semple
I know smoothies may be a trend (acai bowls are all the rage), but I’ve been making them since college and don’t have any plans on stopping. For starters, they’re simple, portable, and nutritious. On the weekdays, I always enjoy a smoothie for breakfast. I’m a bit of health nut (a closet one, that is), and my pantry is stocked with powders, super foods, algae, seeds, and herbs. While I enjoy all of those things very much, I found my smoothie to be lacking in one crucial department: the satiety department.
In playing around with different combinations of this and that, I finally came to the discovery that three everyday foods in my smoothie keep me fuller longer: bananas, chia seeds, and oats. And that’s great news, because not only is my smoothie my breakfast, it’s fuel for my daily workout.
What do these three foods all have in common? Well, a few things. But first and foremost, they all contain fiber. Specifically, soluble fiber. Soluble fiber, when mixed with water, creates a gel-like substance. That’s great news for our stomachs, as it creates the feeling of fullness and slows down the digestion process. If you’re aiming to be healthier, it’s a good idea to boost your daily fiber intake. Women should get around 25 grams per day and men, about 40. (source)
FIBER CONTENT OF MY FAVORITE (FEEL FULL) INGREDIENTS
Oats: 1 cup has 16g of fiber
Chia Seeds: 3 tablespoons have 14g of fiber
Banana: 1 banana has about 3g of fiber (give or take a few grams depending on size)
The second thing that these foods have in common is their texture, (or more technically, their viscosity). Viscosity, a term you probably remember from science class, is defined as the state of being thick, sticky, and semifluid in consistency. If you’ve ever mixed chia with liquid, you know it thickens and transforms into a pudding-like gel. When you mix water with oats, they thicken. Bananas, when mashed, become a soft, sticky paste-like mixture. The thickening properties of these three foods are the reason we feel full when we eat them.
HOW TO ENJOY IN YOUR SMOOTHIE
Mix in ¼ cup of raw oats. Oats, when mixed with liquid, get creamy. They also help mask flavors of odd ingredients I add to my smoothie (like earthy powders, kale, or spinach.)
Add 1/2 tablespoon. You can experiment with black or white chia. You may want to start with a smaller portion and adjust. These seeds are unassumingly powerful thickening agents. A little goes a long way.
Add 1 small frozen but not super ripe fruit. The riper, the higher the sugar content. Here’s a tip: Buy bananas in bulk when they are entirely green. Let them ripen a little at home. Peel them and freeze. I prefer frozen because they help cool my smoothie down, requiring less ice. Too much ice hinders the creaminess of my smoothie.
It’s important to note that when you do add any of these foods to your smoothie, make sure to add enough liquid to help blend them along. I use almond milk and water to blend my smoothie until it’s reached my desired thickness.
What are some of your smoothie staples? Anything you add to boost its nutrition or fullness factor? If you’ve ever tried banana, oats, or chia, let me know what you like about them and if you notice a difference in your hunger after sipping your smoothie. Cheers!
Kira Culotta Semple is a writer and former manufacturer of natural cosmetics. In 2013 she created Leigh Clair to share practical tips and advice focused on beauty and wellbeing. Kira was born and raised in New York’s Hudson Valley, where she currently resides with her husband. If she’s not writing, she can most likely to be found indulging in a large stack of magazines with a cup of coffee in hand.
Featured Image: Healthful Pursuit