Replenish protein, carbs and fluid with a smoothie
By JIM ROMANOFF
For The Associated Press
Sports drinks can be so much more — and so much healthier — than those brightly colored, sugar drinks sold alongside the sodas.
Those drinks are fine for hydration, which is essential for a healthy workout. But when you've just finished exerting yourself, what your body really craves is a good jolt of carbohydrates and protein, and a protein shake is a delicious and satisfying way to get it.
Carbohydrates replenish your supply of glycogen, which is the fuel stored in your muscles that powers physical activity. Protein helps your body repair muscles after strenuous exercise.
Fruits and whole-grain breads are a good, natural source of unrefined carbohydrates. For proteins, consider low-fat dairy products such as yogurt or low-fat cheese. Nuts and nut butters also can provide plenty of protein. While these are somewhat high in fats, it's the kind of heart-healthy fats that won't undo all the cardio benefits of the exercise you just finished.
While there are many protein powders and canned products on the market that can be used as the base of a protein shake, there is another ingredient that can give you surprisingly creamy results — tofu.
Tofu is available in several textures ranging from extra-firm, which is best suited for stir-fries and salads, to extra-soft (often called silken), which has a custard-like texture and is good for using in desserts, such as puddings.
This sweet and tangy blueberry-pomegranate protein smoothie uses silken tofu as a base and is nutritionally fortified with two antioxidant rich fruits. Blending in a banana enhances the creaminess, and also helps neutralize tofu's sometimes chalky flavor.
Any frozen fruits can be swapped for the blueberries. Look in the freezer case at your grocer for bags of individually quick-frozen strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, along with conveniently diced peaches, melons and various tropical fruits.
If you want to boost the protein in this shake even more, you can substitute soy milk for some or all of the juice, but you may need to adjust the sweetness level to suit your tastes.
BLUEBERRY-POMEGRANATE PROTEIN SMOOTHIE
Start to finish: 10 minutes
• 8 ounces extra-soft silken tofu
• 1 cup frozen blueberries
• 1 cup pomegranate juice
• 1 medium ripe banana, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 to 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
• 1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ (optional)
In a blender, combine the tofu, blueberries, pomegranate juice, banana, honey and wheat germ (if using). Blend until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 241 calories; 29 calories from fat; 3 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 49 g carbohydrate; 7 g protein; 4 g fiber; 16 mg sodium.