Life gets crazy. When you’re out and about tackling daily activities, sometimes you need to make a pit stop and grab easy nutrition. Ideally, this should just be to tide you over until your next meal.
You know that the big fast food chains are loaded down with artificial ingredients and no redeeming nutritional value, but you spy a smoothie chain up ahead. Jamba Juice, Robeks, Smoothie King and the like have done a splendid job marketing their products as “healthier” alternatives to gas station snacks and such. Fresh fruits and veggies can’t be unhealthy, right?
Take a peek at Jamba Juice’s website and the first drink option is the Aloha Pineapple smoothie, “a blend of Pineapple Sherbert, Strawberries, Nonfat Plain Yogurt (Contains Milk), Bananas, Ice.”
The sherbet that Jamba Juice so prominently features is relatively cryptic in nature; I had difficulty finding its ingredients in my research. But what I can tell you is the large size has 119 grams of sugar, the equivalent of roughly 3.5 cans of Coke and more than an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
This is psychologically unfair. We have ample propaganda to help us steer clear of fast food, but the word smoothie is synonymous with health. From Mother Jones:
The Jamba Juice website highlights its “natural energy from nutritious ingredients.” Yet it’s actually impossible to get a smoothie made with a base of plain old real milk: Only soy milk can be substituted for the frozen yogurt and sherbet in the “classic” smoothies, and the light smoothies are all made with a mysterious “dairy base” that contains the artificial sweetener Splenda.
We can’t help but be misled. I always believe that eating your veggies whole and as close to their original form as possible is the way to derive the most nutritional benefit. Why juice an apple when you can eat an apple? Why remove the sensory experience of snapping a crunchy carrot by blending it? That’s why we have teeth. From greatist.com:
Despite its convenience, juice is a far less healthy option than a real piece of fruit. Not only does the juicing process destroy a number of fruits’ beneficial compounds and antioxidants, it removes nearly all of the natural fiber . All the sugar with none of the fiber? No, thanks — fiber carries a myriad of digestive benefits and is crucial for slowing the absorption of the fruit’s sugar and keeping its glycemic index low. This, the scientists hypothesized, may be why juice increases the risk of diabetes, and why a high intake of fruit juice has been linked to childhood obesity .
I recognize that sitting down to a homemade salad isn’t always an option, unfortunately. Here are some tips to make the wisest selections under any circumstances life throws at us.
On our behalf, I reached out directly to both Jamba Juice and Robeks. Both will accommodate fully customized orders, meaning you can tell them precisely what to put in your drink.
Your first step is to walk into the establishment with your order in hand so you don’t even have to glance at the menu.
Jamba Juice has kale, apples, berries and carrots. Robeks boasts a plethora of veggie and fruit options. Play with some recipes at home to discover your flavor combinations.
I find the combination of kale, spinach, celery, cucumber and apple very palatable. Ginger and lemon also blend nicely with these ingredients. Carrots always provide sweetness if the juice from greens alone is too bitter for you.
Don’t go to these places to find your protein fix. They will not have options worthy of spending money. They only have low quality protein powders available. Plan ahead and pack a few hard-boiled eggs in a bag capable of keeping your food cool. Have them blend you up your favorite whole fruits and veggies and you’ll have balance – you know how I feel about that.
Remember, your real enemy is not what these chains serve; it’s lack of preparation and education. Understand what you’re eating and drinking, know what you will and will not accept as food, and march in with confidence.