Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Smoothie Time!

In the interest of getting healthier, adding more fruits and veggies to our diets, and still getting out the door on time each morning, we've started having smoothies. 

Of course, Red Beard won't touch my smoothie.  Too girlie.  Not tropical enough.  He likes mango and pineapple, mandarins, and bananas.  I think we've established that I will never eat a banana.  Obviously, we don't drink the same smoothies every morning.

First off, a note about sugar:

According to the American Heart Association, we should all be aiming for a maximum amount of ADDED sugars in our diet daily of 150 calories for men (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons) and 100 calories for women (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).  Note I said ADDED sugars, not the naturally occurring sugars, such as fructose (in fruit) and lactose (in milk).

There are quite a few Designer Diets in the world today that talk about the sugar content of certain fruits and  how you are going to die, fat and insulin dependent, if you eat them.  Who knew that too many mangoes, bananas, grapes, and kiwis were going to kill us all?!?  Insert sarcasm here.

I, for one, don't worry too much about sugar in my diet that comes from eating a piece of fruit.   Common sense says that eating a mandarin vs. eating a bag of skittles is a GOOD CHOICE.  Mango might be a high-sugar fruit, but is it really as bad or worse for you than diving into a vat of gelato?  I think not.  

Anyway, back to smoothies!

I consider a smoothie the perfect way to get several servings of fruits/veg into my diet each day, where I never actually have to eat a piece of fruit.  It all gets ground up and frothy and I can drink it fast and then I'm done!  I'm all about hiding the nutritional stuff where I don't have to taste it; I've never liked most fruits and probably never will.

What I was going for was a mix of protein and fiber, calcium, and a decent mix of fruits and vegetables to start the day off healthy.  Basically, something nutrient dense.  This tops out just under 400 calories and I'm not usually hungry again until 1PM.  It also has 60% of the daily allowance for vitamins A and C, and 60% of my calcium, plus almost 25% of my daily protein.  In one meal!  Nutritional information courtesy of My Fitness Pal's recipe builder; if you haven't tried it, you may want to.  You can even scan bar codes of items you eat all the time and it uploads the information for you.
To begin, I use a chocolate protein shake mix from Arbonne.  I love it and I found it entirely by accident - a friend happened to be selling Arbonne products (amazing make-up primer, by the way) and I was in the market for a protein powder that wasn't chalky and weird AND didn't give me a wonky belly.  And since we all need more fiber in our diets, I didn't argue when she talked me into the fiber boost as well.  Plus, the chocolate helps cover up the taste of the spinach and apple... 

But really, use what works for you.  Heck, use what you already have! I'm not affiliated with Arbonne so whatever.  All I can say is if you have found in the past that you are sensitive to protein powders, this one is very gentle and vegan and gluten free (I'm not vegan or gluten free, but I know plenty of people who are).

Also in the mix, plain almond milk (as much as I like real milk, sometimes it doesn't like me back), baby spinach, green apple, and avocado.  I've learned, thanks to my addiction to Vietnamese cuisine, that avocados are AWESOME in smoothies; way better than a stupid banana.  Plus, fat is yummy.

Finally, berries.  I use frozen for a number of reasons.  First, it's cheaper.  WAY cheaper.  And they last forever in the freezer.  Plus, most smoothies contain ice - I don't like ice mixed in, I think it's weird.  Using frozen fruit give the whole smoothie a milkshake-like consistency.  Milkshakes are awesome.

I've yet to find a berry mix that doesn't include strawberries (I don't like them) so I buy blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries and just make my own mix.

I add ingredients to the blender in a very specific order, otherwise the protein powder and the fiber boost don't get blended in all the way and form clumps.  Clumps are gross.

In order, add to your blender:

  • 1 cup Almond Milk (plain, unsweetened/unflavored)
  • 3/4 scoop Arbonne Chocolate Protein Shake Mix
  • 1 scoop Arbonne Daily Fiber Boost 
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Baby Spinach (packed)
  • 1/2 Small Granny Smith Apple (cored but NOT peeled, peel is good for you)
  • 1/2 Small Avocado (peeled of course, with the pit pulled out)
  • 1/4 cup Frozen Red Raspberries
  • 1/4 cup Frozen Blackberries
  • 1/2 cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1/2 cup warm/hot water (just in case, you'll see below) 
  • 1 teaspoon Honey (OPTIONAL; since the almond milk is unsweetened, some folks prefer a sweeter smoothie.  Another option would be to get vanilla almond milk and skip the honey)

Then, set your blender on it's highest setting (on mine, that's 8) and get to whipping.  You will need to pulse initially, while everything is getting broken up, but once it seems to be going well just turn it on and let it go.   I always make sure to leave the blender on an extra 30 seconds or so after I think it's well mixed, because I hate chunks.

In the event, during blending, that the mix seems too thick and seems "stuck", drizzle in the warm water.  The water loosens the mixture a bit.  You could probably avoid this step if you thawed the fruit a little first; but that would take time and in the mornings, time is a precious thing.

What you end up with is a thick purple concoction.  It's cold, not too sweet, a little chocolatey, very filling, super smooth, and definitely energizing (at least, I notice I have much higher energy levels on Smoothie Mornings).

Here's to a healthy 2015!