Quick & Healthy Breakfasts Part One - The Smoothie
Per the request of one of my very best friends (and I mean very best friends, the kind of friend that lived with me in college… she knows the not so best versions of me and loves me still, she's that kinda friend) I am doing a series on quick and healthy breakfasts. Some of these have been go-tos in our house for sometime and some I am trying out because I have always wanted to and this gives me a good excuse. I hope that this series offers a little something, or a lot of somethings, for everyone.
The smoothie has been a breakfast staple in this household for years and years. It is something that can be so easy and so healthy, but it can also go awry pretty quickly if a lot of sugary ingredients or juices are added. So, I am about to share with you my formula for a tasty and healthy smoothie that is loaded with vitamins, fiber, and protein. And because it is a concept that you are probably already familiar with, I'm just going to cut to the chase.
The first thing I put in the blender is yogurt, about 3/4 cup. I choose plain yogurt, why? Because in my opinion, sugar has no business being in my smoothie because I prefer it my chocolate and desserts, so plain yogurt instead of flavored is one way I cut back on added sugars in my diet so I can enjoy it elsewhere. You could also try building a smoothie with plain yogurt and if you need to sweeten it a bit, add some honey and that way you can control the amount of sugar that you add.
The next thing I add is frozen fruit. We buy this big bag of organic mixed berries from Costco.
It has blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries in it, I add probably about 1 1/2 cups. You could really use whatever fruit you want, melon mixes are nice, frozen strawberry and fresh banana is a classic, fresh orange and frozen mango is also really tasty. You can use all fresh fruit too, but you need to add about a cup of ice to it to get that frozen consistency you expect from a smoothie.
Ok, now I add a green. I will tell you what, nothing makes me feel more ahead in life then starting out my day with already having consumed a vegetable. I usually add about 1/2 cup or so of frozen chopped spinach or kale. Spinach affects the taste and texture more than frozen kale does, so I prefer frozen kale, it is just not as readily available so we often use the spinach. I do know you can find frozen kale at Whole Foods. Now you can also use fresh greens. I just tend to feel that frozen is so easy to keep on hand and ready to go and based on the current flash freeze technology used to freeze fruits and vegetables, they maintain their nutrient integrity. That and when you add fresh spinach the smoothie volume tends to grow like crazy.
Now I add some sort of seeds or nuts. Most frequently we add 4 Tablespoons of chia seeds and I buy this in a big bag from… you guessed it… Costco. Ya'll I swear I don't work for Costco on the side.
Sometimes we also choose 4 Tablespoon ground flax seed (which we also purchase from Costco) and sometimes we get really crazy and add both, 2T of each. You can also add 1/3-1/2 cup raw almonds and even rolled oats (which I realize is not a nut or seed). There are a lot of vitamin and nutrient benefits to these seeds and nuts, they deserve their own post. One of the things I am trying to accomplish by adding them to my smoothie is to increase the fiber content of it and adding nuts and seeds increases the protein as well. You can also add a Tablespoon or so of a nut butter in addition to the seeds to add a different flavor… strawberry and peanut butter is so tasty!
So before I add any liquid, it looks like this:
And now I add liquid. We drink milk in this house, so that is what we use. If you don't drink milk then you could use unsweetened almond milk or soy milk or lactose free milk or whatever it is that you drink at home of that genre. I have absolutely no idea how much I add, as a matter of fact, all of these measurements except for the seeds have been guestamates, but I can't even begin to guess how much liquid. I know, my attention to detail is astounding. All I know is I fill it to just about the top of my ingredients and then blend and see if I need to add a bit more. This about quick and easy, just dump and pour people. It looks like this:
And now blend!
That is vintage Ninja people. We bought that thing 4-5 years ago at a Black Friday sale at Kohl's for $30. It is the best blender I have ever had, a true workhorse, I love my Ninja. My mom recently got a newer top of the line Ninja and that thing is legit too. So anyway, blend and add liquid until you have a frothy consistency that pours easily but is not too thin.
Ok, poser alert here, I never drink smoothie out of a pretty glass like this, but the pint glass or plastic Fosamax or Vioxx cup that I usually drink it out of was not going to fly for a pretty blog picture. I did however feel very fancy drinking out of this glass this morning so maybe it will be a new habit...
So what do you all put in smoothies?