Monday, November 26, 2012

Green Smoothies

If you, like me, have eaten a little too many rich foods this past long weekend, try a cleansing green smoothie for breakfast or as a snack.  I discovered these over a year ago and love how good you feel after drinking one.  It packs a ton of nutrients and fiber, and even though it looks a little weird, is actually really delicious!

I recommend starting off with spinach as your leafy grean because I've found it to have the least strong "green" flavor.  In fact, if your eyes were closed, you probably wouldn't even suspect that there were any vegetables in the smoothie.  I've made these with lettuce, chard, and kale before, too, and while you will taste them more, it's still pretty yummy.

I get a bunch of bananas from Boston Organics with each delivery and usually let them ripen until they're a nice, evenly spotted brown, and then throw them whole and unpeeled into the freezer.  I used to peel them and cut them up into chunks before putting them in a freezer bag, but I found that the banana chunks would get discolored quickly that way.  When you freeze the bananas whole, the skin will turn brown, but once you peel them you'll see that the fruit itself is still unblemished.  It can be a little difficult to peel a frozen banana, so I usually let it thaw a few minutes, then lop off the ends, make a lengthwise cut, and try to peel it from the cut.  The advantage of using a frozen banana is that you don't have to add ice, which would just add volume and dilute the smoothie.

I've used a lot of different fruits before:  orange segments, kiwis, strawberries, grapes, apples, pears, plums, blueberries, raspberries, etc. and it always tastes great.  I started off using soy or almond milk as the liquid, but eventually found that I could get away with just using plain water, and it still tasted great.  If you have leftover coconut "water" from making coconut whipped cream, it makes an excellent liquid base.

I like to add chia seeds for some protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but if you don't have any, the smoothies are still good.  In the beginning, you may like to add some nut butter, like peanut butter or almond butter, for taste and protein, but I've found it's easier just to add sliced almonds since blended almonds is basically what almond butter is anyways.

I guess what I'm essentially saying is that as long as you have some greens, a frozen banana, and one or two other fruits, you're good to go.  Sometimes if I'm in the mood for something more chocolatey, I'll add some cocoa powder.  Have fun experimenting and seeing what your favorite combinations are!

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Green Smoothies
makes 1 large smoothie

1 large handful leafy greens (like spinach, kale, chard, or lettuce)
1 tablespoon chia seeds, sliced almonds, or nut butter
About a cup of cut up fruit (see the 4th paragraph above for suggestions)
1 frozen banana, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup liquid (water, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, etc.)

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Place the greens in the bottom of the blender.

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Add the chia seeds/almonds/nut butter and then the fruit.

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Top with the frozen banana chunks.

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Lastly, pour the liquid over everything.

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Start the blender off on low and quickly bring it up to high, making sure that everything is blending nicely.  If needed, stop the blender and tap the container to get rid of air bubbles.

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Blend for a minute or longer until everything is smooth.  Pour into a large glass and drink immediately.

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A note about blenders:  I have a Vitamix, which I love dearly.  It blends everything so easily, and it's really easy to wash!  Sure, it's pricey, but if you end up using it as much as I do, it's so worth it in the end.  I don't have any experience making a green smoothie in a regular blender, but hopefully it will work okay in those, too.

Next:  Three Bean Chili
Previously:  Mashed Potato Pizza with Roasted Garlic and Bacon
Three Years Ago:  Apple-Pear-Cranberry Crisp

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