Monday, January 11, 2010

Smoothie Madness!

Smoothies are one of life's understated pleasures, aren't they? I really love how versatile they are - and that just because you are having one, doesn't make it indulgent - it just feels that way. Sure, you can go all in and make an over-the-top caloric nightmare...but most of the time, you can have what you want, sneak in some veggies and never notice how good it is for you!

They are great for kids too, for so many reasons...

First is - FUN!
Second - Sneak those veggies in!
Third - Eaaaaasy.
Fourth - they think they are being spoiled!
Fifth - versatility! they never get boring!

I had my kids sitting on the counter, "helping" me make them (they are not even 3 yet). By help, I mean copying the blender noise and then taste-testing them, complete with smoothie-staches! Sorry, cell-phone cam here...
If you don't own an immersion blender, go out and buy one right now. I mean it! It has been one of the best gifts I have ever received. It makes things so easy - I haven't touched my blender in years. Easy to puree, wherever you need to (in the pan? sure!), easy to clean - pop it apart and rinse. Easy to make anything, honestly.

We made smoothies on vacation to try and use up the leftovers in the fridge on the last day...I make smoothies for a quick breakfast some days...(a good way to get rid of egg nog before it expires)...sometimes a nutritious snack for the kids to prime them for a healthy lunch. Really, the sky's the limit here.

Use whatever you have on hand and experiment - some you may hate, but some you may really like...and that's all part of the fun too. I'm really excited about trying some of the super health food adds listed down below from other brown rice, or avocado (you know me!), or even green tea in some. So many great ideas and ways to boost your levels easily. I am about to start a super vitamin regimen from my doctor - Vitamin B, D, C, Fish Oil, blah blah blah - all because of the serious gaps in my nutrition. Once I get back up there, I really wanted to find a way to fit the nutrients and vitamins in from my diet, and this is an actual, feasible...pretty darn easy way to accomplish that. Time was always my problem...Variety the second...and a husband that wants nothing to do with healthy foods as a third! lol So...this is a great alternative to sneak more in for myself, any time of day.... and to give the kids that same benefit in a power packed food. I'm all for as nutritionally dense as humanly possible. :)

To start easily! Combine any of the following to your liking, listed here for idea spurring!

Always use whole fresh (or just frozen by yourself) if possible, skin on is best. As whole as you can get. Frozen is next best, canned is last resort.

  • Fruits - fresh (skin on, if possible for whole nutrition), frozen, canned
  • Veggies - steamed and cooled, frozen, canned
  • peanut butter (natural)
  • milk, cream, eggnog, yogurt, frozen yogurt, silken tofu, splash of orange juice to thin (any juice)
  • healthy add-ins - wheat germ, ground flax seed, oat bran, green tea (see below)
  • flavor add-ins - pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, cocoa powder, coconut (creamed is awesome), coffee, lemon, lime, mint syrup, nutmeg, vanilla extract (any extract, really), fresh herbs (just bruised - mint, lemon balm, bee balm, lavender, basil, cilantro, etc...)

Interesting herb-enhanced smoothie list here.

First one we made (yes, oh-so-technical directions here...):
Cherry Berry
- handful of frozen cherries
- handful of strawberries (leave the tops on! long as they don't look moldy or wilted)
- 1/2 large banana
- 2-3 large spoonfuls of silken tofu or plain yogurt
- splash of milk (tofu will make it much thicker, so you may want to add more milk accordingly)
- 3 shakes of cinnamon
- opt. drizzle of agave nectar (can use honey or maple syrup)

blend and enjoy!

Second one:
Eggnog Smoothie
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup eggnog (depending on how thin you want it, use more)
- 1/2 large banana
- 2 ice cubes
- 3 large spoonfuls of plain yogurt (the tofu and the egg flavors together did not work for me)
- 1 shake pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg

I tried adding a handful of frozen raspberries to this one and it was also good - but then again, I love eggnog. The second one is not the healthiest, but hey...that eggnog wasn't gonna drink itself before it expired! :)

I have a bunch more I will share as time goes on - we made a really good melon one on vacation..I just have to remember how we did it! Also a peanut butter and banana... yum.

If making a veggie smoothie, here are some sweetener suggestions- dates or raisins (soak in warm water first), fruit juice concentrate, honey, maple syrup, molasses, agave nectar (low GI)

Green smoothies sound gross, but if you go slow and get used to the added veggies before you add more, it may be the next best way to getting in your 5 a day. :) Ideas the following article recommends: Avocado (1/4 to 1/2 for some good, healthy and satisfying fats)...Leafy greens such as spinach or collard greens are the most neutral in flavor - meaning they are less likely to gag you. :)

got this searching, in a cool article from ecoki : "Greening Your Smoothie"

Here are a few cool tips from them to get some veggies in there:
  • Add the green to taste – start with a handful, and work your way up, as you get used to the new ingredient in your mix
  • Lemon juice is a pungent over-powering ingredient to mask odd tastes, but also gives a fresh spin in your traditional smoothie. Add a few squirts to your next one.
  • Always use the whole fruit in your smoothie, as opposed to fruit juice or peeling it. If you’re going to make it good for you, then take the time to use whole, fresh foods
  • A lot of people like bananas in their smoothies – it makes it creamy and thick
  • Frozen fruits make it thick, cold and refreshing. Try freezing your favourites in chunks so they are ready to go
  • Silken tofu doesn’t add any taste but a great creamy consistency with a load of protein
  • Keep it simple: choose two fruits that compliment each other, some greens, and added protein (tofu, yogurt, cashews (really))
  • If you want, add high-quality protein powder, like hemp protein
  • Don’t try to make it gross. Putting 5 handfuls of kale in a blender with half-banana won’t sell you. And no, maple syrup won’t make it better.
  • Collards and spinach are the most neutral in taste
  • Add 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado for extra creaminess and healthy fats
  • flaxmeal adds a boost of Omega-3s and fibre
  • Try using dates instead of sugar or other sweeteners if you need some extra sweetness in your smoothie

Try these combination or add to a current favourite. Mix and match your favourite fruits with a few greens and some add-ins to up the health benefits. Blend all ingredients (frozen fruit works best), adding water to desired consistency, and enjoy.

Banana Bread: 1/2 banana, 3 dates, greens, and 1/4 cup walnuts (soaked overnight)

PB & J: 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 cup strawberries, greens, and 1/2 banana (optional)

Tropical Twist: 1 cup pineapple chunks, 1 cup mango chunks, greens, 3 tablespoons hemp seeds

Our standby: 1/2 avocado, 1 cup fruit, 3 handfuls spinach, 1 scoop hemp protein powder, a date or two (depending on fruit)

Green tea: This is wonderful for its anti-oxidant properties. You can purchase green tea leaves/sachets/powder from your local supermarket. Steep the leaves/sachets in boiled water for about 4 to 5 minutes, strain the leaves and leave it to cool before using for your smooties.

Other supplements you can add, dosing according to bottle/doctor recommendations, grinding them and adding to smoothie after it is mixed (great way to get your daily vitamins in if you hate swallowing pills like moi):

  • Acidophilus, Bee pollen (yikes!), Brewer's yeast, Calcium powder, Chlorella powder, Chlorophyll liquid or powder, Lecithin powder or granules, Protein powder, Spirulina powder, Vitamin C powder, Wheat bran

I realize I am ignoring the pink elephant that we are back....can we pretend this whole year never happened and just move on to the next project? ;) Please? Yes?! I hoped you'd say that! Hopefully I can keep up something here as the year goes on...maybe not every week, but forward progress of some kind....

Less is more, my friends...keep it simple. ♥♥♥