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Smoothie recipes for winter cycling

Nick Soldinger
16 Nov 2017

Boost your pedal power with our selection of natural, healthy cycling-friendly smoothie recipes

Smoothies are good for you, right? Well, no, not all the time. It depends what’s in them: if you put the wrong mix of ingredients in, they can actually be pretty bad for you.

Some fruit smoothies in particular, though often sold to us as a super-healthy option, are crammed with sugar.

And when we say crammed, we mean it. One 2014 study of 50 products sold in supermarkets, coffee shops and food outlets discovered that more than half contained at least six teaspoons of sugar (30g), while some contained up to 24 (120g) in a single drink.

These weren’t necessarily added sugars either. Fruit smoothies and juices strip away most of the fruit’s fibre – the left-over pulp you often see discarded at the end of the process.

Too much sugar

What you’re left with is a concentrated drink that retains almost all the sugar from all the fruits used. And while fruit is healthy, you could be drinking a juice made up from half a dozen oranges, say.

And you’d never speed-eat a bag full of those, would you? Well, maybe you would but we wouldn’t advise it.

So does that mean you should bin your blender altogether?

Of course not. But there are simple ways you can make sure you use it to improve your health not hamper it.

The right fruit

First, think about the fruit you’re using. Add two bananas to proceedings, for example, and you’ll be adding 30g of sugar – near enough your recommended daily allowance.

So, look to low-sugar fruits such as seasonal winter berries instead.

Also steer clear of adding full-fat yoghurts for obvious reasons. If you want to get that all-important smooth texture, try half an avocado instead.

Not only will you get a slick thickness but also a healthy dose of essential fats and potassium in the process – which is good news for your heart and blood pressure.

In fact, when thinking about what to put in your smoothie, going green will give you the healthiest possible option.

Kale and spinach

It may sound unappealing but adding dark-green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach to your smoothie is a great idea: they’re lower in sugars and bursting with antioxidants which will help cleanse your body of toxins.

Lastly, look out for sugars creeping in from other sources. Make sure any liquid you use is unsweetened. Almond milk or coconut milk, for example, should be of the no-added sugar variety.

Alternatively, try using unsweetened green tea or just plain water. And if you are adding protein powder to the mix, again make sure it contains no artificial sweeteners.

With all that in mind, click through to the next page for six super-healthy smoothie recipes that will fire up your system for better performances in the saddle during the cold-weather months...

Six smoothie recipes to try

The inflammation-fighting one


Ingredients

• 1 handful of kale
• 1 handful of frozen berries
• 1 tbsp flax seeds
• 10 walnut halves
• 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh turmeric root (available from big supermarkets)
• Unsweetened coconut water

Add all the ingredients to a blender, topping up with the coconut water and blitz for 35 seconds.

Long rides can produce wear and tear on muscles and joints, particularly when the weather’s cold.

This often results in inflammation which this recipe – because of the kale and the turmeric – will help to settle down.

The pre-workout one


Ingredients

• 1 apple
• 1 fresh beetroot
• 1 carrot
• 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
• 1 handful of frozen berries (blueberries and blackberries are best)
• Unsweetened coconut water

Wash and peel the beet, apple and carrot. Add all ingredients to your blender. Top up with coconut water as required and blitz.

The beetroot in this makes it ideal for improving your workout as studies show it helps boost endurance by reducing the amount of oxygen your muscles need to perform for longer. 

The detoxifying one


Ingredients

• 2 handfuls of kale
• 1 handful spinach leaves
• 6-8 seedless green grapes
• half an avocado
• 1 teaspoon of zest from an unwaxed lemon
• Unsweetened coconut water

Wash the spinach and kale leaves, peel and dice the avocado and add to the blender with the grapes and zest.

Top up with the coconut water and blend.

The avocado provides texture but also helps unlock the full nutritional properties of the kale and the spinach to improve the absorption of antioxidants.

The energy-boosting one


Ingredients

• 1/4 cup of coffee
• 1 handul of frozen berries
• 1 tbsp of cacao bits (available from hollandandbarrett.com, £6.99 for 250g)
• 1 handful of hazelnuts
• Unsweetened almond milk

The coffee used in this recipe will need to be pre-brewed and cooled.

Once you have this, add it to the blender with the other ingredients, top up with the almond milk and blend till smooth.

Cacao bits are basically pure, unsweetened chocolate (Yay!). They’re rich in magnesium, iron and antioxidants and along with the coffee provide a healthy lift that tatstes like a treat! 

The post-workout one


Ingredients

• 250ml of kefir
• 10 walnut halves
• 1 handful strawberries
• 1 banana
• 1 scoop unflavoured soya protein
• Water

Kefir is a tart-tasting dairy milk drink that’s kind to your guts and can be found in high street stores as the Co-Op, Sainsbury’s and Boots (see Bio-tifuldairy.com).

When added to the other ingredients here, such as the soya protein (hollandandbarrett.com, £19 for 908g), it will help your muscles recover more quickly from a tough day in the saddle. 

The pro one


Ingredients

• 1/2 banana
• 1/2 apple
• 1/3 mango
• 1 handful of frozen berries
• 2 tbsp seed mix (pumpkin/flax seeds)
• 1/2 tsp zest from an unwaxed lemon
• Unsweetened rice milk

Peel and dice the fruits, add the berries, seeds and zest. Top up with rice milk and blend.

Team Sky’s head chef Søren Kristiansen uses rice milk in his smoothies as it’s kinder on the gut than cow juice, helping to calm pre-race nervous tums, while offering a fine mix of protein, vitamins and healthy fats.

And if it’s good enough for Team Sky...

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