A friend of mine recently asked me what change has made the biggest impact in creating a healthier diet for myself and my family. Without a doubt I answered, “Green Smoothies”. She was a little skeptical, so I invited her over this morning for a taste test.
Pictured: Smoothie made from Italian kale, spinach, bananas, peanut butter, apple juice and yogurt.
Several years ago, I heard some talk show host mention that she always tossed a bit of spinach in with her smoothies. It sounded crazy, but I am impulsive. Naturally, I wanted to try it.
I checked the bottom of the crisper for some fruit, dragged out the blender and started throwing stuff in. When it was almost done, I tossed in a couple of spinach leaves. I felt so virtuous as I served it up to my daughter with her morning fruit loops.
This is a healthy breakfast. I am
a great an excellent mother.
Excellent mothering skills notwithstanding, I soon forgot about spinach in smoothies. I didn’t think about it again until a little over a year ago. I was visiting with some other moms after a volunteer meeting. One of them mentioned that she made green smoothies for her kids every day. I said, “Oh, I’ve put spinach in smoothies before. (Subtext: See what a good mother I am?) You can’t even tell it’s there. Is that what you mean?”
She went on the tell me that she used spinach, kale, Swiss chard and other greens. Again, I thought it sounded crazy. I picked up a bunch of kale on the way home.
The next morning I pulled out my old Osterizer and blended up some kale with strawberries and bananas. It looked a little gross – kind of a brownish-green color, but it tasted really good. The next day, I still had plenty of kale left, so I made another. And another the day after that.
I noticed that I was getting a lot more done around the house. I just seemed to have more energy. I also wasn’t having food cravings in the evenings. The siren song from the kitchen no longer had any power over me. I think in giving my body what it needed, it no longer wanted to send me such bossy requests.
Sugar! Now! [nom nom nom] No, not sugar, you dummy! I really wanted salt! Gaaaah!.
I have had a green smoothie for breakfast nearly every day for almost a year. That single change made it so much easier to make other good choices. Cutting down on sugar and processed foods is simple when you aren’t feeling cravings for them. Added energy makes meal planning and preparation much easier.
I’ve come a long way from junk foodie to real foodie; green smoothies were only one step in my progression. Yet, for all the good they have done me, I think that one step may have been taken while wearing seven-league boots. Green seven-league boots, of course.
My friend really liked the smoothie I prepared for her today. I think you will too. Here’s the “recipe”:
- Apple juice
- Fresh or frozen strawberries
- natural peanut butter
- Fill your blender to the 2 cup line with apple juice (or water and a couple of tablespoons of apple juice concentrate.)
- Add some kale and spinach leaves. Pulse. Keep adding greens and pulsing until your blender is filled to the 4 cup line.
- Add about 1½ cups of fresh or frozen strawberries, two or three bananas and a tablespoon or two of natural peanut butter.
- Feel great!
And since I like you, here’s a bonus: my favorite way to freeze fresh berries so you don’t end up trying to chisel what you want from a frozen brick.
Wash your berries, then scoop them into muffin tins. Stack them in the freezer with a cookie sheet between the layers.
If you are like me, you may have to shift things around in your freezer to achieve a precarious balance. Right now I’m sort of questioning the structural integrity of those waffles.
When they are frozen solid, remove from freezer and dip tins in hot water. The little cups of frozen fruit should pop right out with the help of a butter knife.
Store in freezer bags. FYI: Each cup in my tin holds just under half a cup of berries
Do you green smoothie? What are your favorite ingredients?