Nutritionist Lucinda Zammit shares her 5 tips for making the most of liquid meals:

The 5 rules of liquid meals - IMAGE - Women's Health and Fitness magazine

1. Realistically estimate calories
You don't need to get your Year 11 calculator out, but take note of what's going in the blender. Because ingredients reduce in size, it can be easy to cram in two meals' worth of calories and fat (a whole avocado contains around 1,300kJ – the same as a Lean Cuisine hokkien noodles). Bananas and seeds or nuts are other super ingredients that warrant portion caution. Think of what you would actually eat if you were sitting down to a meal and approximate the portion sizes.

Tip: Rather than using 100 per cent milk (400 ml of low fat milk contains close to 900 kJ and you won’t even notice if you split it 50:50 with water). 

2. Prioritise taste
Somehow the taste of wet socks has become synonymous with virtue (if it's that bad, it must be good, right?) Fail. If you struggle to choke down your meal in a glass, you'll be off the wagon in no time – or loading it up with a calorie-laden glob of honey or chocolate or peanut butter. Pretty soon you've got a thickshake disguised as a health drink.

Tip: Use baby spinach as the base of your liquid meal. Add one to two cups of spinach as the first ingredient and watch your portion control of each extra ingredient. Remember, liquid meals can be savoury as well as sweet! 

 

3. Focus on satiety
One of the major pitfalls of liquid meals is that they can have all the filling (and staying) power of a glass of OJ. While it may be super low in kJs, a mix of water, maca powder and apple or orange will have you reaching for food. False economy, much? To optimise nutrition and activate satiety hormones, make sure you add a protein source and a fibre source. Try nut butter, an egg or premium protein powder. For a savoury shake, you can even add steamed and cooled shredded chicken or beef. Chook shake – believe it.

Tip: Add some steamed (and cooled) sweet potato or pumpkin to bulk up your liquid lunch.


4. Think veg, not fruit
Fruit and veg are like navy and black – the rule that said vegies go with everything – sweet or savoury! Adding vegies to a blender or NutriBullet will ensure the nutrients and fibre of your vegies are kept intact so you are still getting all the benefits (as opposed to juicing). Good vegies to add in disguise are spinach, kale, cos lettuce and watercress, or try a superfood addition in powder form – spirulina, maca powder or a greens powder such as Passion Projects. Why not go one step further and make it savoury – add some spices and enjoy a soup?

Tip: Add last night’s vegies to the blender with some stock or water to whizz them into an easy vegie soup. Zucchini, pumpkin, capsicum, peas and carrots all work well. Alternatively, place them in a bowl and use a stick mixer to make a soup.


5. Choose your trade wisely
This shouldn't be about an obligation to give up food. The main perk of shakes is convenience, packing in nutrients you might otherwise skip. Consider which meals you value (if you love dinner, don't have a shake then) and which you tend to do badly (or sub-optimally). While all meals can be translated to a liquid version, brekkie is most amenable to transposition. Simply place your usual bowl ingredients in a bowl and tip into the blender (yep, the uncooked oats, the milk, the berries, the cinnamon, the yoghurt...). Protein powder and seeds are fair game too.

Tip: Blend breakfast the night before, place in a jar with a secure lid and leave it in the fridge. In the morning, shake it and drink in the car or on the train. For an espresso martini twist, add a teaspoon of coffee. (Morning, sunshine!)