With NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow, some of us Ketonians are looking for a way to simplify our eating life without going off the Keto reservation, to gain more writing time. Smoothies are one way, if they are ketogenic smoothies.
Some of us may have it in the back of our minds that drinking smoothies means drinking things full of fruits and dried fruits and honey or agave nectar sugars, and that if we tack the word ‘Keto’ in front of the word ‘smoothie’ the extra carbs will not count.
No, Keto smoothies have to follow the regular Keto rules. You won’t find any frozen bananas in OUR smoothies! Keto smoothies have low-carb vegetables in them, dairy products or substitute dairy such as nut milks, actual nuts, nutritional add-ins like cacao nibs or chia seeds or sprouts, natural and/or allowed flavorings and sweeteners (liquid stevia is recommended— 4-8 drops of SweetLeaf brand liquid stevia, any flavor, is a good place to start.)
There are two major schools of thought about smoothies: one group wants a smoothie that tastes JUST like a chocolate milkshake or other unhealthy non-food, and the other group wants a ‘green-drink’ type smoothie full of broccoli and kale and chia and flaxseed, even if it tastes awful. I think the better approach is a bit between the extremes. No Keto smoothie will fully taste like a high-carb milkshake because, being low in carbs, it isn’t feeding the carb-monkey on our backs. But a horrible-tasting green drink daily may be a hard habit to continue, and we don’t really need to do it.
I make my smoothies in my Vita-Mix, mainly because that’s what I have. I got it before I discovered low-carb, and in the early days used it to make fruit drinks (’Total juice’) and to grind wheat into bread flour. It makes smoothies well, too. I like the fact that the Vita-Mix is easy-clean-up— you put a drop of dish detergent and some warm water in it and run the Vita-mix for a while. The blending container gets clean, with the dome top needs some washing in a dishpan. (Hint: get in a habit of cleaning your Vita-Mix and any smoothie related dirty dishes immediately after finishing your smoothie.)
To get started with smoothies you probably will want some recipes. Later you can adapt these recipes by adding things, exchanging things, or leaving things out.
Dana Carpender’s 300 15-Minute Low-Carb Recipes has some smoothie recipes in Chapter 16. I’ve tried the Mexican Chocolate and the Super Strawberry recipes and liked them. Both call for 3/4 cup of cottage cheese, which I would cut back to 1/2 cup next time I make them, since the smoothies are VERY filling. I also omitted the sugar-free strawberry syrup in the strawberry smoothie, and it tasted just fine.
I ordered Dana Carpender’s earlier smoothie book, but it hasn’t arrived yet. Another smoothie book I ordered has arrived: Dr. Mark Hogan’s Healthy Keto Smoothies. The bad side of this book is that it is self-published and looks it. Dr. Hogan should have hired an editor to go over the book with him (or a better editor.) Also, I’m not sure I trust the nutritional information on the recipes, since one has a whole avocado but a carb content far lower than even a fraction of the avocado. But the good side of the book is that it has an early chapter with comprehensive lists of the different types of ingredients you can use in a Keto smoothie. The list is great for figuring out substitutions or creating your own smoothie recipes based on what you like and what you can get.
How do you figure out the carb count of Keto smoothie? Pay close attention to the recipe’s number of servings— some recipes from my two Vita-Mix books (neither low-carb) seem like possibilities until you notice it makes 5 or more servings and you don’t have 5 Ketonians in your family. (My newest Vita-Mix book, the author says her father used to make up smoothies in advance and store the extra servings in the fridge, but I’m not sure I want to to that— I think many smoothies get worse over time and are best very fresh.) Make a list of the ingredients in the recipe, and look up the carb counts of each in a carb-count book. You may need a calculator to figure out the carb count of the amount of ingredient that’s in your recipe. Then, if the recipe is for more than one serving, divide by the number of servings to figure out the carb count of your serving.
How do you figure out how many grams of your carb allowance you can spend on smoothies? There are two methods. If you are a carb counter, you will know how many carb grams you are allowed in a day. Figure out how many you will need for your non-smoothie meals, and you will know how many you can spare for a smoothie or two.
The other approach is based on the Atkins approach, where the carbohydrates are counted for you. Set aside some of your allowed ingredients, such as part of your salad veg, your cream allowance, your daily half-avocado, for smoothie use. If you are not still on induction, you can dedicate the extra carb grams of your level for ingredients that are useful in smoothies.
NOTE: SMOOTHIES ARE NOT A SNACK. We think of a ’snack’ as something less healthy than our mealtime meals, even if that’s not true in our fast-food, processed-food world (but we’re not doing that any more, I hope.) In our Keto lifestyle, smoothies are a nutrition powerhouse. They may also use up the bulk of our daily carb allowance. Label them a meal— not even a ‘mini-meal’ or use them as part of a larger meal. They are not the same as a bag of Fritos! They are part of our overall better-health plan. Respect them accordingly!
Ketonians = Keto (low-carb) lifestyle followers
Vita-Mix = a blender with superpowers, much famed in the (non-Ketonian) health food movement