Here are the best recipes for cooling down.
The perfect smoothie is hard to find. You don't want it too chunky, too icy, too thin, or too thick. Have you ever made a smoothie only to get a weird lump of blended ice and fruit surrounded by juice? So close and yet so far. Here are my tried and true tips for making a good smoothie for after your workout – and a few recipes, too.
1. Use the right tools.
I have a Nutribullet, and it's amazing. I've never been able to zap ice and fruit faster into smooth, drinkable bliss. But you don't have to have a fancy blender to make a good smoothie. Just know that you have to play to your blender's strengths. My old blender used to jam pretty easily, so I had to go lighter on the ice, start at a slow pulse, and then kick the speed up at the end.
2. Get the right ingredients.
Please don't overload your smoothie with sugary yogurt. Yes, it tastes good that way, and it's a quick and easy way to get flavor, but that's really all you're getting. The added sugar kind of defeats the purpose of your workout by breaking down everything you just worked for. Sugar can amplify that energy boost your workout just gave you, but then derail it during the sugar crash. Not to mention all those endorphins your brain released during your exercise are now being counteracted by the same sugar crash. And all that extra sugar makes for more inflamed joints. Ouch!
So let me stress this: plain Greek yogurt is just as good in a smoothie. It adds protein while cutting down on the sugar because let's face it: those berries you toss in the blender will add plenty of natural sweetness.
3. Sneak in a few veggies.
For some reason, the idea of drinking fruit isn't gross, but drinking veggies makes me shudder. But throwing in a stalk of kale or chard or a handful of spinach leaves won't drastically alter the flavor of your smoothie. It will add fiber, extra vitamins, and maybe some much-needed iron.
Some recommended recipes
I always go for simple. Frozen strawberries, frozen banana slices, a cup of Greek yogurt, and a splash of orange juice.
A similar take on this recipe from verywellfit.com recommends 1/3 cup of strawberries, 1 sliced banana, 1/3 cup of blueberries, 1 cup yogurt, and 2/3 cup of ice. Blend until smooth. If you're using a Nutribullet like me, you're required to throw in something liquidy. A great trick to adding flavor to your smoothie is to use flat sparkling water. If I didn't finish a can of flavored, sugar- and calorie-free sparkling water yesterday, I chill it in the fridge and then add it to my smoothie the next day. (Word to the wise: The sparkling water really should be flat because otherwise, you'll probably get a fizzing explosion in your blender. You know, like what happens if you shake a can of soda.)
What are you post-workout recommendations when it comes to refueling? Let us know!
The Run-Around is a weekly feature, focusing on fitness in and around Annapolis, MD.