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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not Your Ordinary Smoothies

Sorry to keep you folks waiting all summer. I was busy working, cooking, and starting my mornings with sun salutations outside in the summer sun! Another thing that gets my morning going? Smoothies! My smoothies go beyond your basic strawberry banana or chocolate banana (although I do love adding bananas to them!) These smoothies are a complete meal in themselves, and they have a secret ingredient....veggies!
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and lucky for me, it's the most important. It gets your metabolism going, helps maintain weight, and gives you energy to start your day. It is extremely rare for me to skip breakfast. I started working part-time at Starbucks 2 years ago, and I usually work the 5am shift. I still make sure to wake up a few minutes early to squeeze in breakfast. I don't drink coffee (and I work at Starbucks? doesn't make sense, I know), but I would start my morning with some herbal tea and steel-cut oats or whole wheat toast with almond butter and jam. I used to feel super bloated and tired after eating that (especially since it was before 5am).
I got into juicing last year, but my awesome Breville juicer (from Craigslist!) was too big to keep on my counter (and too loud and hard to clean for 4:30am!). I got myself an inexpensive, but powerful little Tribest personal blender, and my breakfast dilemma was solved. Yes, it's still noisy, but not as loud as my big juicer. My smoothies keep me feeling full for hours, and I feel wide awake even at 5am.
So what's my secret to super smoothies? First, start with your "base." I usually load a tablespoon or pinch of the following into the blender: nuts/seeds, nut butter, coconut flakes, coconut oil, cacao powder, cacao nibs, maca powder (energizing Incan superfood), spices (ginger, cinnamon, cayenne), etc. Then add 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid: non-dairy milk, coconut water, filtered water. Throw in some chopped veggies for an extra nutritional boost. My favorite green smoothie additions are: cucumber (so refreshing!), celery, spinach, romaine lettuce, parsley, spearmint, kale, and avocado (adds a creamy touch). Then, blend the base until smooth. Next, add chopped fresh or frozen fruit. Don't overdo the fruit - it has lots of sugar. You want an alkalizing blend that will keep you full and prevent a sugar crash. Aim for more veggies than fruit in your smoothie. I love adding frozen fruit, which turns my smoothie into an icy treat. I use frozen bananas (just peel super ripe bananas and freeze in a ziplock bag), blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mango, and pineapple. I use my morning smoothie as a way to utilize the fruit and veggie "scraps" in my crisper drawer, so the recipe always changes.

Some smoothie-making tips to get you started:
Experiment to get the right consistency and flavor
  • Depending on your blender, you may have to play around with the liquid to solid ratio and blending time.
  • Use frozen fruit instead of ice cubes  for a guilt-free ice cream style treat!
  • Bananas are cheap and work great as a base for any smoothie. Peel and freeze overripe bananas in a large ziplock bag. 
  • Slice large frozen fruits, like bananas, into bite-sized pieces if your blender is small.
  • If you don’t have nondairy milk on hand, throw a small handful of nuts or seeds into the blender.
  • While blending, pause every so often to stir if you don’t have a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix or Blendtec).
Make great-tasting smoothies with less sugar
  • Use whole fruit in place of added sugar.
  • If you prefer to add a sweetener, use dates, agave, raw honey, or brown rice syrup. 
  • Gradually transition from fruit-based smoothies to fruit and vegetable blends. 
  • A large handful of greens can be added to most smoothies without any noticeable aftertaste.

Here are two of my favorite smoothie recipes. These are a bit sweeter than typical "green" smoothies, so they are great as you make the transition to a healthier morning routine!

Great Greens
Sneak a full cup of greens into your breakfast! You will feel so energized after this!
  • 1+ cup Greens (parsley tastes best in this recipe)
  • 1/3 Frozen banana, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup Frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 cup Almonds or brazil nuts
  • 1 tsp. Almond butter or coconut butter
  • 1 tsp. Bee pollen
  • 1 tsp. Maca powder
  • 1 tbs. Ground flax, hemp seeds, or chia gel (for omega-3 power!)
  • 1 tbs. Cacao nibs
  • 1tbs. Coconut flakes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup liquid of choice

Chocolate Covered Raspberry
Completely decadent and completely guilt-free! This makes a great breakfast, snack, or dessert.
  • 1 Frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup Frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup Nondairy milk
  • 1 tsp. Almond butter or coconut butter
  • 1 tbs. Cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs. Cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp. Maca powder
  • 1 tbs. Ground flax, hemp seeds, or chia gel
  • Pinch of cinnamon, ginger, chili, and cayenne
Now go get blending!