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This Is How You're F'in Up Your Homemade Smoothies

Smoothies are great. When we make 'em right.

Wellness

I don't know about y'all, but there are more than a couple of people in my life who have smoothies as a part of their daily ritual. Some of them do it as a quick way to consume their breakfast. Others do it as an energy boost before working out. Some just simply like the taste of 'em. If you happen to fall into any of these categories, first let me say that homemade smoothies, for the most part, are a good thing to have. The nutrients in them can help to strengthen your immunity, improve your digestion, detoxify your body, fill you up with antioxidants, control your cravings and help you to lose weight—yep, all this with just one serving. At the same time, the reason why I said, "for the most part", is because, believe it or not, there is such a thing as a "bad smoothie". It's when you find yourself preparing one in such a way that it can literally do your system more harm than good.

If smoothies are totally your thing, but you want to make sure that you're making the kind that are as healthy as possible, here are some signs that you might be working against this goal—whether you realize it or not.

You’re Making Them with Juice

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While fruit is good for you, fruit juice? Eh, not so much. A lot of fruit juice brands are packed with both sugar and calories, so using them as a base for your smoothies is usually working against you, rather than for you. For instance, adding a half-cup of apple juice to your morning smoothie could easily give you 50-70 extra calories and 10-15 grams of sugar. So, if you want your smoothies to be a little less thick, opt for a milk alternative instead. Case in point, there are 30 calories in a cup of almond milk with zero grams of sugar in it (if you go with the original or unsweetened kind). For the most part, milk alternatives instead of juice are definitely the way to go.

You’re Putting in Too Much Fruit (or Only Fruit)

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Just because I said that fruit is healthy (and it is), that doesn't mean it's also not packed with a type of sugar known as fructose. If all you have in your smoothie is berries, bananas or pineapples, that could cause your blood sugar levels to spike up. Plus, smoothies are basically meant to serve as mini-meals, so it's best to put more in there anyway. Protein powder, green veggies, seeds (like chia or flaxseed) can up the nutrient value of your smoothie while also balancing out all of the sugar that fruit tends to provide.

You’re Adding WAY Too Much Green Veggies

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Kale. Spinach. Cucumber. Zucchini. These are just some of the green veggies that not only are loaded with vitamins and minerals, but actually taste really great in smoothies as well. But again, balance is key.

If you eat too much of a good green thing, the fiber could have you in the bathroom for much longer than you ever planned. Plus, kale contains compounds known as goitrogens; too many of them are prone to totally mess with your thyroid—and not in a good way.

So how much is enough? 1-2 cups of fresh raw green vegetables, per smoothie, is pretty cool. Just make sure that you're only doing a smoothie a day in order to keep your green veggie intake on point.

You’re Adding WAY Too Much Protein Too

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As women, all we need is 50-60 grams of protein a day. Well, if you're adding collagen, whey and protein powder to each of your smoothies, you're actually giving your body way too much protein. The challenge with that is, not only can that lead to things like nausea, dehydration, exhaustion, diarrhea and intestinal discomfort over time, but when protein rises to excessive levels, it's prone to turn into sugar. That's why, really no more than 10 grams of protein, per smoothie, should be a rule of thumb that you should follow.

You’re Putting Sweeteners In

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Lawd, y'all. If you're putting fresh fruit into your smoothie, why in the world would you need to add any sweetener to it? Remember that smoothies aren't just a convenient way to get vitamins and minerals into your body; they're also supposed to benefit you, holistically, long-term. Consuming anything that could low-key turn you into a diabetic isn't helpful. Bottom line, if there's fruit in your smoothie, you've got all of the sweetener that you need. If there's not, a teaspoon of honey or molasses, some dates, or a little bit of flavored yogurt should be all that you need to add a little sweetness to it.

You’re Forgetting About Adding Spices

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Here's an interesting question. When's the last time you added some spice (or spices) into your smoothies? Not only do they add a bit of a "kick" to how your smoothies taste, but many of them are really great for your overall health and well-being too. Ginger contains potassium, copper and magnesium, along with anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon is filled with antioxidants and the organic compound cinnamaldehyde which helps to keep bacterial and fungal infections at bay. Sage is dope because it's high in Vitamin K and also has the reputation for reducing cholesterol levels, relieving menopause-related symptoms and improving blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. So, definitely consider adding one of these (or other spices) into your smoothie, the next time that you make one.

Your Smoothies Are HUGE

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Back in my Smoothie King days, I used to be amazed by some of the sizes of smoothies that they offered. I mean, who needs a Big Gulp equivalent of a smoothie, right? At the end of the day, all that means is you're packing on more calories and sugar.

So, what size should your smoothies actually be? Between 8-12 ounces is best and one a day is good. And what about having a smoothie every day? If it's something like a homemade green smoothie, that shouldn't be a problem, so long as you add some protein into it so that you're not hungry an hour later.

Just make sure that you don't treat your smoothie like it's a drink that is accompanying a meal—even if it's a salad. Too much of a good thing can turn into something that's not-so-good, real quick. Many folks have found themselves packing on pounds after consistently drinking smoothies for a month or so. So, if you're having a smoothie, consider that to be an actual meal, until it's time to eat again.

BONUS: You’re Buying Them

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The reason why this article focuses on mistakes that are made when it comes to making smoothies at home is because, when they're the DIY kind, you have full control over what does (and doesn't) go into them. When you're getting them at your local grocery store, not so much. Many commercial brands contain so many additives and preservatives that the word "natural" in the branding is hardly true. And if you get one at a restaurant, oftentimes frozen yogurt, sherbet and all sorts of sweeteners will make it more of a fattening treat than a healthy snack. So, when it comes to getting a smoothie outside of your house, while it might be convenient, it typically isn't your best bet—not if you want to drink one that is actually good for you. Make them at home. It's better for your body—and your budget in the long run.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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