Friday, September 20, 2013

.:green smoothies:.

green smoothies are becoming a 'health staple', something that you hear about more and more. it's a great way to sneak extra veggies, especially greens, into your diet and let's be honest, with the cold weather upon us, it is always difficult to incorporate greens when the warm, comfort, carb-loaded, holiday foods are calling out to you. also, green smoothies can be intimidating and deceiving! my girlfriend recently texted me to say that she got a blender and is excited to try out new smoothies. when i mentioned green smoothie recipes, her response was, 'ugh, i think i need to work my way up to that'. i get it. the green color isn't all that appetizing and the thought of drinking spinach or kale would probably make some people gag.

well, i drink several green smoothies a week and i promise i have never gagged, so let me give you a few pointers on exploring with green smoothies!

choose a green base:. if you are just starting out, spinach is great! the taste is easily hidden and it blends really smooth. thanks to the Farmer's Market, i have had heaps of kale around the house, so i mainly use kale which can have a bitter taste if you aren't used to kale. another simple option is romaine lettuce which has a lot of water content and also can be easily concealed.

add protein:. while greens are great, most of them lack protein. i  add greek yogurt (plain or vanilla to avoid sugar overload). i typically add protein powder for an extra boost - Garden of Life Raw Protein in Vanilla - because of its 'chalkiness', i would never use this type of protein for after a workout, but throwing it into a smoothie is a great way to mask it.

add fruit:. while some of you won't believe me when i say this, but it does not take a lot of fruit to hide the 'green flavor' - i PROMISE! when adding fruit, please be mindful that you are also adding SUGAR, mostly natural sugar, but sugar nonetheless. i have added several different kinds of fruits and they all work great - fresh apples, peaches, bananas, frozen mango and fresh or frozen berries. i have also 'acquired' the taste of grapefruit (blah!) because it has a high water content and is a great metabolizer (friendly note: grapefruit actually tastes better when it is stored in the fridge, it helps with the bitterness). choose something that you like and play around with ratios and flavors. i started with the basic strawberry and banana, but my new favorite is blueberry and mango.

add boosters:. my go-to boosters are chia seeds and oats, but you can make almost anything work - avocado, peanut or almond butter, cucumber, flax seeds or maple syrup. again, you will be surprised by how well fruits and avocados and even almond butter and kale work together.

blending - i have gone through a few blenders in the past few years, but there are plenty of options that work extremely well. i started off with a Hamilton Beach single serve blender - you can find it at Target for around $15, it is great quality, but only comes with one blending cup. after almost 2 years, the cup (filled with my smoothie) fell out of my backpack as i was biking to work - i am fairly certain i teared up when i saw my breakfast shatter on busy Snelling Ave and i could nothing, but keep biking. after that tragedy, i bought a GNC blender set - this comes with an insane amount of cups, different sizes, shapes, tops and even a big pitcher. i splurged $30 for this one, i love it and still use it as my back up, but have most of it stored away since there are SO many attachments. drew recently decided that we needed a nice blender (he was thinking malts, not green smoothies), so one night after i worked and nannied, i came home to a Ninja blender (things can get dangerous when i am out of the house for 14 hours). i have to give it to him, this spendy blender is pretty sweet. it came with a large pitcher, as well as 2 single serve sizes and this is now my go-to. I believe Ninja blendors range from $100-$200 depending on the model and can be found at most retailers like Target, and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

i have a technique where i blend my greens, grapefruit, yogurt and chia seeds first - then with the rest of the space left, i fill it with the protein powder, boosters and fruit. it allows things to mix well without overworking the blender and it also forces me to use more greens than fruit.

sound like a lot of work? well, its not, but if your mornings are similar to mine, check this out: fill up your blender the night before, but don't blend it! if i want a green smoothie for the next morning, i fill it with my greens, yogurt and grapefruit (i would hate to spend my busy morning cutting and
peeling grapefruit), then i put it in the fridge over night, pop it on the blender and throw in the 'easy' stuff in the morning. you may have noticed that i haven't mentioned ice, but that's because i don't use it (most of the time). i feel like the single serve blenders are already limited on space, so i'd rather fill it with other stuff. however, if i am biking to work or heading to yoga and know i won't drink it right away, i will put a few ice cubes in after its blended - i think of it as a morning happy hour, kale on the rocks! i haven't had an issue with things separating too much that a simple shake won't fix. you can blend and throw it the fridge/freezer overnight and grab it in the morning, but i like to know the ingredients were freshly blended (nutrients not exposed to air) and i have a thing with patience, i don't want to wait for it to thaw to drink me high maintenance.

the ingredients that you use in a green smoothies can be extremely beneficial to your health and nutrition and will keep you glowing even as our arctic season approaches. green smoothies are also a great way to 'sneak' veggies into your significant other's or kids' diet - they MAY notice the color, but they certainly won't notice the taste.

green smoothie with my morning Americano :)

what do you put in your green smoothies? i am always looking for ways to change mine up!

always striving for more,
dee b.

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