Growing up, my dad would make smoothies for us as dessert a couple nights a week. We’d get our pajamas on while he made them (he usually did a dance while the blender was running, which we thought was hilarious), and then he’d tell us to sit at the “smoothie wall”, which was up against our fridge. And we’d just sit there and drink our smoothies. Back then, his ingredients were mainly ice cream, fruit, and ice.
Smoothies have evolved. I make them in the mornings for breakfast, or for a quick lunch. I love to experiment with new ingredients. So far, I have tried the following in our smoothies:
-fresh or frozen fruit (peaches, bananas, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, avocado, watermelon, mangos, blackberries, nectarines…)
-fresh or frozen veggies (spinach, collard greens,
kale, cucumber, zucchini, red pepper, yellow pepper, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, green beans)
-nuts (usually raw almonds or walnuts)
-dairy (yogurt, milk)
-juices (orange, apple or pomegranate)
-organic ground flaxseed (whole flax seeds can be tough to digest)
-Acaí berry pureé
If adding veggies to your smoothie makes you a little uncomfortable, just try it once before making up your mind. You may be surprised by how good they taste!
I usually pick 1-2 fruits (almost always a banana for a dose of potassium), 1-2 veggies, and some protein (yogurt, any type of milk, tofu, etc.). Nuts and organic ground flaxseed are staples. The fiber and protein are important for helping you stay full until a mid-morning snack. POM pomegranate juice has also become a staple, because of its powerful antioxidants. And then of course, you need ice.
I recently discovered the acaí berry pureé smoothie blocks – they are frozen blocks of organic acaí berry that add not only antioxidants but also essential omegas (6 & 9) and amino acids. You can get them in the freezer section of most health food stores.
Smoothies are so much better than premade breakfast bars or cereals, because you get all the nutrients without the extra sugars and flavorings. They are made from 100% whole foods, so you know exactly what is going into your body. And they are a perfect way to get two servings of fruits and vegetables before you even leave the house in the morning. Kids will love them too - they love colored drinks and they love using straws. Involve them in the process so they can be amazed by all those good foods turning into a tasty drink. Studies have shown that when kids get to help with food preparation and make some decisions about what they are eating, they are more likely to eat the meal.
One thing we talk about in school is the importance of varying your meals. I realized I was eating almost the same smoothie for breakfast every morning, so I started to integrate the gluten-free grains (posted yesterday) and also some eggs into my breakfast routine. It is good to have a few different healthy options for breakfast, and smoothies are great if you are in a hurry. Just buy some plastic straws and take it to go.
My dad still makes me smoothies when I go home for a visit. But now they are packed with organic blueberries, spinach, nuts and ground flaxseed. I suspect he occasionally sneaks a little vanilla ice cream in there too… but they taste delicious, and I just don’t ask!