Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Smoothies!

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you probably have noticed I have been making a lot of smoothies this month. I will be the first to admit I am not the best eater, and greens have never done it for me. I started making "green" smoothies a couple summers ago after hearing about them from a friend. I wont lie, I was highly skeptical because I really didn't believe I would be able to disguise the spinach. To my surprise, the smoothies I made were always super yummy.

What recipe do I follow? Now that's the complicated part because I don't actually have a recipe! I usually use a few scoops of yogurt, some juice, spinach and fruit. I started using half frozen fruit for more of that frozen smoothie taste without ice chunks.
Ingredient #1: I prefer Cabot Greek Yogurt, I use plain for my smoothies and vanilla for Abigail's. Greek yogurt is creamier which is perfect for making smoothies, well, smooth. There's also more protein in Greek yogurt which is an added bonus, especially since my smoothies will sometimes be a meal replacement. If you want to read more about the benefits to Greek yogurt you can try HERE, HERE or HERE.
Celery, Spinach, Strawberries, Pear
Ingredient #2: My usual go to liquid/juice for smoothies has always been orange juice. When I started the Sugar Detox earlier this month, I tried using Tart Cherry Juice instead and I still really liked the results. I had read a few months back that Tart Cherry Juice was a natural anti-inflammatory and was great for runners to aide in muscle recovery and joint pain. Like it's name says, it is tart and when it's served chilled over ice it's not awful, but it's not great either. I'm sure it's an acquired taste but for now I'm loving it in my smoothies. For Abigail, I have been using milk to keep her smoothies creamy.
Carrots, Strawberries, Spinach, Mango
Ingredient #3: I love Organic Girl Greens. Spinach is one of the "dirty dozen" so I always buy organic. I have had great luck with this brand, it never goes bad before I use it all. My new little trick is to actually freeze the spinach greens, their texture is like chips but it gives the smoothies a little more umph if you are not using a lot of frozen fruit. This was an accidental trick because I froze some before going out of town and then when I used it it was great.
Ingredient #4: Fruit! The strawberry is probably my favorite fruit, so I tend to use strawberries in almost every smoothie. Strawberries are also in season right now and they are super easy to clean and slice. Bananas are loaded with potassium, help make smoothies creamy and takes absolutely no time to clean/slice, what's not to love? I like to incorporate plenty of other fruits in my smoothies: berries, mango, peaches, cherries, pineapple, grapes and, most recently, cantaloupe.
Celery, Strawberries, Banana
I've also been experimenting with other veggies in my smoothies. I have tried celery and carrots, though never together. Too much celery or too many carrots will cause your smoothie to be thicker, more fiber texture. If I go overboard, I have fixed it by adding more berries or other fruit and maybe a splash more of juice. I would also like to experiment with zucchini, cucumber, beets and sweet peppers.
Carrots, Spinach, Blueberries
Have you ever put nuts or seeds in a smoothie? I have used sliced almonds and pecans in my smoothies. The nuts add a bit of texture to the smoothies so I would not use too much, especially if you're using thicker ingredients or a grainy fruit, like a pear. I also use flax seeds in my smoothies and have been intending to pick up chia seeds for a couple weeks now. Wheat germ and oatmeal can also be added as additional ingredients, but always keep in mind all these items mentioned with make your smoothies thicker so I tend to only use one at a time.
Pear, Strawberries, Spinach, Carrots
Cantaloupe
Instead of purchasing frozen fruit, which can sometimes be more expensive, especially when a fruit is in season, I decided to purchase fruit and freeze it myself. This can also be helpful for larger fruits like watermelon, papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe and honeydew that might take you longer to eat or use in smoothies. You can also buy larger quantities in bulk or when specific fruits are on sale then freeze yourself to save on costs.

Have you ever heard the term "flash freeze"? After cutting the fruit, I spread it out on a baking sheet lined with freezer paper and place it in the freezer (see picture of the cantaloupe on the right). Make sure the pieces are spread out, if too many pieces are touching/clumped together they will all be stuck together when frozen. Once all the fruit has been in the freezer 10 minutes or so, transfer it to a gallon ziploc bag or a large container for easier storage.

I did this again with mango, blueberries and strawberries before we headed out of town last week instead of letting the fruit sit and risk it spoiling before I used it. I flash froze the mango first, then added half the sliced strawberries and blueberries, then the second half of the sliced strawberries. This wasn't necessarily intentional, I just would add more fruit to the baking sheet once I had a decent amount of additional fruit to add. I accidentally forgot the fruit overnight in the freezer and transferred it to another gallon ziploc bag the next morning.
Mango, Strawberries, Blueberries
As you can tell from all the pictures, while I do have my basic 4 ingredients, I throw my smoothies together differently everyday. I am very haphazard in my selections, sometimes I choose based on what fruits might be older or getting close to going bad. Other days I choose based on what I see first either on the counter or in the refrigerator/freezer. There really is no rhyme or reason to any ingredient beyond my basic ingredients.
Mango, Strawberries, Spinach, Pear
I love my smoothies and make one almost daily. I know I'm giving my body the nutrition and fuel it needs and I have started noticing little differences inside and out. Since these smoothies have become more regular in my diet, I decided to join the Unconventional Kitchen Love Your Greens 30 Day Challenge for May. This challenge will give beginners lots of assistance and instruction to help get you started making and loving green smoothies. I signed up this weekend, after a friend shared this challenge with me, and have already received a shopping list for each week of this challenge. I'm intrigued by some of the ingredients and look forward to receiving the daily recipes and hope to find some new favorite flavors for my smoothies. I encourage you to join me in this challenge too!

QUESTIONS:
-Do you like smoothies and make them at home?
-Will you be joining me in the Love Your Greens 30 Day Challenge?

3 comments:

Lena said...

I love making green smoothies! You really can't taste the spinach and it totally blows my mind!
I LOVE putting almond butter in my smoothies, it gives great flavor without the texture.
I also use ground flaxseed and chia seeds. The trick with those is that they thicken up your smoothie pretty well, meaning you can alleviate using yogurt if you want to go dairy free, but still want a thick and "creamy" smoothie.

Also if you want to try a different base instead of juice, I enjoy almond milk and hemp milk. The hemp milk is perfect for those with lactose issues and is creamy just like milk. Throw in a serving of chocolate protein powder and it's like a chocolate milkshake base with no guilt. :)

Can't wait to see more of your smoothie creations!

Jill Barnes said...

I am on a huge almond butter kick right now! Two slices of Arnold's nutty (higher protein) toasted then slathered with almond butter is my go to breakfast these days. (Meanwhile Abs enjoys cinnamon sugar toast, homemade.)

I wasn't a huge fan of Almond milk when I have tried it before but I might have to give it another chance. Still haven't tried hemp milk either. Thanks for the recommendations!

Amy Albers said...

This is great! I've just started making smoothies to take on the way to work in order to A - be healthier and B - kick my $5.00 per stop McD's habit just to grab something quick. Regular dairy upsets my stomach but I've been using both the chocolate and vanilla flavors of almond milk and it's been working out great! Thanks for all the good ideas!