Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's smoothie time!!!

My family is a HUGE fan of the smoothie. In my opinion, smoothies are the easiest and tastiest way to eat a ton of fruits and veggies - especially veggies. People typically don't have a problem getting in all of their daily servings of fruit, but veggies can be a challenge. With smoothies you can sneak in kale, broccoli, carrots, brussel sprouts, spinach, you name it and combined with a little fruit, the fruit will dominate the flavor. Even if the smoothie is green, it will be sweet, fruity and delicious. Kids love smoothies and I can't think of a better way to feed a picky eater. Add a handful of blueberries and it will turn purple - they'll have no idea they're eating kale!
Olivia enjoying some arugula, banana, berries, cucumber, carrot, chia seeds and coconut milk in her Re-Pac pouch 
I also appreciate how smoothies will fill you up, thanks to the fiber content. It's not recommended to replace a meal with a smoothie, but as a stay-at-home mom sometimes I take what I can get. A tall glass will keep me full for hours. 

There are many recipes out there but I typically just throw together whatever we have. When I put together a smoothie my goal is for my veggie to fruit ratio to be 2 to 1. However if you are new to plant based eating and struggle with veggies, flip that to 1 to 2. Over time increase the veggies - baby steps. I try to rotate the greens that I use (kale, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, arugula, collards, romaine) for a little variety, exposure to different vitamins and minerals and to prevent a build up of oxalic acid. I just learned about this - spinach is high in oxalic acid and eating too much can affect thyroid function (I have hypothyroidism, so this is prevalent for me). Now don't get me wrong, spinach is AMAZINGLY good for you - just don't eat pounds of it every single day!

Typically we stock frozen organic berries and pineapple, but you can't beat fresh. In North Carolina we have access to amazing peaches and strawberries during the summer. I always buy a bunch of extra to freeze so we can enjoy them over the off-season. I clean and cut them up, put them in a Zip-Lock freezer bag and lay them flat. The first year I did this I stuffed the bags too full and it ended up being a huge mass of frozen peach that was difficult to break off. Filling the bags about 2/3 full and laying them flat will make it much easier to break off chunks. 
We hoard our summer peaches and strawberries - such a treat in the winter!
Costco is my go-to for frozen fruits and vegetables - their prices can't be beat! I love their pineapple (it's not organic, but pineapple is not a dirty-dozen fruit), organic berry blend (I only buy organic berries - they are very porous and thin skins making them vulnerable to chemicals), and organic frozen broccoli. I also buy all my nuts at Costco - walnuts are a delicious to smoothies are flax seed, chia seeds and I'm experimenting with hemp. Buying in bulk is the way to go!

Sometimes I like to add a little protein powder, but don't think it's absolutely necessary since there is already a lot of protein in the smoothie ingredients I use. Just a little warning about powders - they can have weird textures, overpowering flavors and pretty much destroy your smoothie. Food Babe wrote a post about the healthiest protein powders on the market and I bought the Raw Garden of Life brand that she recommended. It doesn't change the texture, I like the vanilla flavor and love that it is plant based. If I make a very veggie heavy smoothie, sometimes I'll add 1/2 a scoop to give it some sweetness (I have a pretty severe sweet tooth…).

Our Vitamix is like a member of the family - I have one, my sister has one, my parents have one. We are believers and would all agree that the Vitamix is definitely a top five all-time best purchase ever. Expensive yes, but worth every single penny. Consider it an investment in your health! I can't vouch for other products out there but have friends that like their Nutri-Bullet or Magic Bullet. What I can say about the Vitamix is that it is a work horse that blends unlike anything else out there. I prefer to invest in products that will last me for years and years and years and believe completely in the concept of getting what you pay for. Check out Craigslist for a used Vitamix in great condition - I can't imagine anyone ever wanting to sell theirs though! 
This amount of fruits and veggies was enough for two large glasses. 
I didn't learn this until recently, but there is a proper order for adding the ingredients to your blender: 
  1. Liquid first - as a base I use unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk.
  2. Add any nuts, seeds or protein powder (this is especially important for chia seeds since they need liquid to soften). 
  3. Add softer foods like banana, greens, fresh peaches.
  4. Add heavier foods like apple and carrots. 
  5. Add any frozen food or ice last

The heavier ingredients push the other foods down into the blades, which will ensure the best texture possible. This is pretty obvious, but the higher the blender speed you use the finer the texture will be. My Vitamix has unbelievable power, but to protect it I start out slow first and then build up speed with a strong finish. I highly recommend clean your blender immediately and trust me on this one. I rinse mine before I even drink my smoothie - the longer you wait the harder it will be to clean. Finally, ENJOY!!!
Here's to your health!

1 comment:

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