Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Green Smoothies

I'm taking a break from ranting about social faux pas to announce that as of this week, I have officially lost my nursing spread! After two years, I am rid of the eight pounds I gained in my first year as a nurse.

How did I do it? Another post is forthcoming, but the secret for me was: more exercise, less alcohol, more fruits and vegetables, less junk. Sorry if you were hoping for something groundbreaking.

One of my recent diet discoveries is green smoothies- blended drinks with fruit AND vegetables.  Now I have one of those bad boys for breakfast 2-3 times per week. I can't think of a better way to get some green stuff in the morning.

It started when a friend pinned this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats on Pinterest. I tried it out and couldn't believe the delicious results. It really tastes like a dessert instead of a healthy breakfast- even without the flavored yogurt (I use silken tofu).

I became obsessed: I started looking all over the internet for more recipes. I told my co-workers about it and got three other people drinking their spinach. I even found out from my Facebook friends that you can blend kale in there as well as spinach.

So here's my formula for an awesome green smoothie:
1 frozen banana cut into chunks (cut before freezing)
1-2 cups any other fruit: strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, mango, pineapple, kiwi, watermelon
1/4 cup silken tofu or yogurt
1/2 cup milk or soy or nut milk
1 Tbsp peanut butter or other nut butter or raw sliced almonds
1-2 cups spinach or kale
(optional) a few sprigs of parsley or mint (doesn't mix well with peanut butter)

Put everything but the spinach or kale in the blender and give it a whirl. Add the greens and mix for several minutes until there are no big leafy bits left. Add a little more milk if the consistency is too thick. Pour into a glass and enjoy. Feel a sense of smug superiority at getting such a healthy start to the day.

I'm still making fresh juice almost every day, but this is a great way to get the fiber as well as nutrients from the greens.  I make the prep a little easier by rinsing the spinach or kale the night before and leaving it in the salad spinner in the fridge overnight (a trick I learned from Mark Bittman). I really love having a use for bananas that are getting a little brown- just cut them up and freeze them. 

A note on blenders: the Vitamix is supposed to be the ultimate smoothie machine, but it's pretty pricey. I have a Ninja that I bought at Target for $39.99, which also came with a small food processor. The blades are knife-sharp, so it does a great job slicing up all of the produce. The food processor is good for grinding up nuts and flax seeds. I might invest in a Vitamix one day (I doubt those Ninja blades will hold an edge forever), but the Ninja was a great starter and a very small investment.

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and drink your veggies!

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