I could probably write for days about smoothies and still not brush the surface of all the different ways they can be made. I have been drinking smoothies for a long time. I call my blended fruit a smoothie, and sometimes if I add protein powder, I call it a smoothie too. I even refer to my meal replacement shakes as smoothies (mainly because I make them exactly the way I do my smoothies except with a packet or scoop of powder). Because I’ve been drinking all different kinds of smoothies for a good part of my life, I thought it might be time to share with you a little on how I smoothie!
Years ago, I knew everything (HA!) except the damage sugar was doing to my body. My smoothies then consisted of fresh or frozen fruit, milk, ice, and sometimes (okay, usually) a big heap of vanilla ice cream. Seriously! When I grew up a little, I started omitting the ice cream—except for as the occasional treat. I didn’t drink smoothies for meals. I drank them as a snack. Strawberries, bananas, milk, ice, and sugar (and a little ice cream!) for more taste is an example of what I used to drink. Fast forward a few years. After learning that sugar is the devil, I cleaned up my smoothies a little and added more protein. My go to shake was:
1/2 – 1 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
half milk/half water liquid addition (to reach your desired consistency)
I consumed this concoction A LOT. I would sometimes add a handful of spinach, some flax seed, and sometimes dry oatmeal or even some chia seeds. (Note: soaking the chia seeds in the liquid for 3-5 minutes before blending will cause them to expand and not taste so gritty.)
These days I smoothie in a whole different way. About a year ago, I was diagnosed with a minor case of arthritis and started doing some research on inflammation and food triggers. What I found in my research was that dairy is one of the leading causes of inflammation. So… no more cow’s milk in my smoothies! I pretty much always use almond milk now, (which is lower in calories and fat) and love it. One of my current favorite smoothies:
1 cup almond milk
2oz. water (if, like me, you prefer yours a little less thick)
a little raw honey
Don’t freak out because you saw tofu! It’s added for consistency—and more importantly for me—protein. If dairy is not an issue for you, plain yogurt would be a great swap for the tofu.
I mentioned above that I sometimes add spinach. This could be considered a “green smoothie.” This is also a great way to sneak in veggies for kids! You can find tons of green smoothie recipes on Pinterest. I began to make healthier smoothies with a simple guideline: greens, liquid, fruit (fresh and/or frozen), protein, and optional flavor enhancers or boosters. For greens, I mostly stick with spinach, but kale is a good choice as well if you have a good, high quality blender. For liquids, there are many choices: milk, coconut/almond/cashew milk, fruit juices, kefir (drinkable yogurt), and fruit waters—such as coconut water. For fruit, I keep frozen on hand, but I also like to use whatever fresh fruit is in season. IF you want to add a protein, you can always do yogurt, a protein powder, a nut butter, or tofu. For flavor boosters, ginger and honey are two of many choices available. You only need a tiny bit of ginger as it is very potent. Honey you can add as needed for taste if you like things a little sweeter. For a different twist, my friend drinks a smoothie/shake some afternoons with coffee! She mixes cold coffee, almond milk, a scoop of vanilla protein powder, and ice and loves this iced, blended coffee version.
Lots of folks enjoy a smoothie for breakfast every morning. When I was working part-time, I often drank one in the car on the way to work. Adding protein is particularly great for these as it keeps you fuller for longer. These days, I mostly enjoy smoothies as snacks because they are a nice cool treat during the hot weather. A tip from me — I’ve found I LOVE my single serving blender for this process. It came with about 6 cups that have the screw-on blade, and I can easily blend for just myself. It is rare that I make multiple servings, but if your kiddos and family like smoothies, then by all means make a big pitcher in a regular blender! If you are not a smoothie drinker, think of it as a way to get in an extra serving of fruit and even some veggies (greens). Enjoy the next couple of hot months by making a cold smoothie for yourself!