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Making a low-sugar smoothie
Dear Steph, I’m pregnant and can’t stand to eat anything savory in the morning. I’ve heard that smoothies are okay during a #PregnantWhole30, but I want to make sure I’m still getting good nutrition. How can I create a healthy, low-sugar smoothie? – Corey G., Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program Member
Our team has occasionally mentioned smoothies as an option for mamas who would like to do a Whole30, and who are also battling morning sickness or food aversions (see this Morning Sickness Recipes post). Our stance is that while smoothies are not recommended during a Whole30, they might be a good option for a woman who is suffering from morning sickness and is looking for a palatable source of nutrition during her Whole30.
Also, we don’t expect you to Whole30 throughout your entire pregnancy (or maybe at all). In that case, it’s up to you to decide how smoothies fit into your food freedom. After all, they can be a convenient option; throw some greens, fruit, liquid, healthy fat, and collagen peptides in a blender and you’re done. There’s minimal clean-up and prep work involved. Simple, right? However, while the concept is simple, there are a few considerations we’d like to share before you start sipping.
Not Your Average Smoothie
When you’re following a Whole30, smoothies are technically compliant, but discouraged because food that you drink sends different satiety signals to your brain than food that you chew. If you’re always needing a mid-morning snack break after your smoothie, that kind of defeats the convenience factor. I’ll address how to solve this issue later on in this post.
Another major consideration is sugar content. Consider this: a banana, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries, a handful of spinach, and 1 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt sounds like a healthy way to start the morning, right?
But wait a minute—even though the sugar is coming from whole food sources and contains fiber, this smoothie contains about 45 grams (or 11 teaspoons!) of sugar. For reference, one Twinkie contains about 18 grams of sugar. My recommendation is that you avoid these fruit-heavy smoothies because they can result in unstable energy, mood, and cravings throughout the day.
So, what does a healthy low-sugar smoothie look like? Think mini-meal. Just as you would design a Whole30 meal based on the Meal Planning Template, you want your smoothie to contain a source of protein, low-glycemic fruits and/or veggies, and healthy fat.
Creating your Healthy Smoothie
Here are a few options to mix and match to create your own healthy low-sugar smoothie. I’ve given you my suggestions for amounts in each category; experiment with combinations that follow these guidelines until you find a blend you love.
Base Liquid (1-1.5 cups):
Bone broth in a smoothie? Why, yes! Check out this tart and refreshing Kale Chard Green Smoothie recipe.
Protein (½-1 serving):
Not into protein powder or collagen peptides? You could also pair your smoothie with a “side” of easy protein like hard-boiled eggs, compliant sausage or deli meat (heated to steaming, if you’re pregnant), or a meat bar from DNX bar or EPIC Provisions.
Fat (1 serving, minimum):
Seeds (chia, hemp, ground flaxseed, etc.)
Unsweetened coconut flakes
Fruit (1 Cup, max):
Berries, best option for low sugar
Apple, Pear, Peach
Pineapple, Mango (stick to 1/2 cup as these are higher in sugar)
Banana (frozen provides a creamy texture)
Veggie (1 Cup, minimum):
Mashed sweet potato
Boosts (Optional, to taste):
Celtic sea salt/Himalayan pink salt
Camu Camu powder (for vitamin C)
Recipes from our Member Mamas
Need more inspiration? Here are a few options from some mamas in our Facebook group:
Good Morning, Get Moving Smoothie (From Lindsay R.)
makes 2-3 servings
1 banana (or 2 c. frozen mixed berries)
2 heaping handfuls of spinach
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 to 1 Tbsp brewer’s yeast (great for breastfeeding mamas!)
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
2 Cups unsweetened almond milk
2 scoops Vital Proteins collagen powder
(Optional: 1 Cup ice cubes)
Turmeric Cinnamon Apple Smoothie (From Meghan M.)
3/4 Cup canned coconut milk
1/2 large apple
2 Cups spinach
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1 scoop Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Blueberry Chiller (From Megan D.)
1 Cup unsweetened nut milk
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 Cup frozen blueberries
1 Cup kale
2 Tbsp nut butter
2 Tbsp collagen peptides
Ice cubes (optional)
Stephanie Greunke is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition who specializes in women’s health. She is a certified personal trainer and prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. Stephanie guides and supports women locally and globally through her web-based private practice, RockYourHormones.com.
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