All the friends who stay at my place know the deal. Every morning they’ll be awakened by the sound of my blender and served a bedside smoothie. Around 300-350 days a year since 2011, I have consumed a green smoothie for my (first) breakfast. Its like my personal version of coffee. I love the energy it gives me, the clean start it provides, and the fact that no matter what my edible choices are throughout the day I’ve at least already had a few servings of fruits and vegetables. I especially crave it in the summer when its hot earlier in the morning and I can cool down with a refreshing, slushy one.
Many people have asked me why I don’t juice. I can appreciate juices and using them as an occasional addition to my lifestyle but I simply find more purpose in a smoothie. A smoothie has more fiber and is therefore more filling, less waste, and easier to prepare. It creates a slower, stable release of nutrients whereas a juice can quickly spike your blood sugar. Because the fiber has been removed in a juice, you’ll get hungry fast. I’m not particularly a fan of juice cleansing because of these reasons, especially for myself. Smoothies are where its at!
FAQ’s/Tips for smoothies:
- Can I use frozen produce for my smoothies? Its perfectly okay to use combinations of fresh and frozen organic produce, taking advantage of seasonal farmers market goods and supermarket deals. I personally don’t let anything go to waste. When I buy strawberries/peaches/plums/others at my grocer or farmers market I buy a lot and I wash then freeze half knowing I’ll use them for smoothies (or popsicles and sorbet!). Fresh and seasonal is always best, but frozen is also a great option as it is usually the peak ripened fresh produce that is immediately frozen. Frozen is also great for colder climates that do not have access to as many fresh seasonal goods. Make serving portions ahead of time to save time if you’d like.
- Where do I store each type of fruit and how do I know its ripe? Make sure your fruit is ripe and ripen the correct way. This is a huge pet peeve of mine when I see people eating less-than-ripe fruits and thus not receiving maximum nutrition and taste! This goes for produce like bananas (best spotted), peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, pineapples, kiwis, melons, papayas, mangoes, avocados, tomatoes etc. NONE of these fruits should go directly in the refrigerator unless they are fully ripe and ready to eat. You will likely ruin them by doing so. Yes, that’s right! I REPEAT – DO NOT STORE THESE FRUITS IN THE FRIDGE from the beginning. They need to ripen first. Fruits like pears, kiwis, papayas, mangos, avocados and tomatoes will tell you by touch (soft enough with some give). Fruits like peaches, nectarines, and pineapples will often tell you with their sweet scent at the stem. Examples of fruits that can go directly in the fridge either way: berries, apples and apple/asian-pears (though fine out), grapes, etc. Don’t wash these items until you are ready to eat them or ready to freeze them. Washing them first makes them break down (go bad) quicker.
- What kind of veggies can I use? Experiment with different veggies. Cucumbers are generally liked, great in smoothies and give it a nice spa feel. I prefer the less bitter, lighter tasting, thinner skinned english or persian cucumbers – skin on. I freeze these in chunks or sections ahead of time. I mention these in my Fridge Staples blog. I also like carrots sometimes in my tropical fruit smoothies, or celery in a super green smoothie. There are other options yet these are my go-to’s.
- What about greens? Always use organic greens (you might even notice pesticide residue on non-organic ones). Don’t be scared, picky eaters! Half the time you can’t even taste them. You can use a lot of different greens including my favorites: baby spinach, wild arugula, power green mixes (usually baby kale, spinach, and others like chard or bok choy etc) and even romaine. Trader Joes also has a great “Power Greens Mix”. Sometimes I use kale, but not too much as it is potent in taste and texture. If your not used to the greens, start off slowly, using a small handful at a time and work your way up. If your blender doesn’t have a lot of power or your sensitive to a chunkier texture, you can start with your greens and liquids processing those first before you add everything else. That way, it will have a nice smooth consistency.
- Can I add protein powder? What kind? Personally, I don’t enjoy adding mediocre protein powders or other complex system-confusing foods to my morning smoothies. I think it defeats the purpose. I consider the morning a fresh start. The body doesn’t usually appreciate mixing alkaline fruits with acidic and heavy protein. Not only that, but a majority of protein powders are NOT healthy. If your set on using protein in your smoothies, please PLEASE buy a good quality, organic, plant based soy-free protein from a reputable source. I approve of Vega and other similar proteins found at good health food vendors. The best bases of a good protein are hemp, brown rice, and pea – there are new ones popping up all the time. Soy, whey, and egg-white-based protein are not usually favorable as they are acidic, bloating and usually highly processed. Another thing you can do is simply add wholesome protein yourself with extras like hemp seed, flax or chia. If you need more substance, some people even add oat groats but I consider a smoothie as my first breakfast, then moving onto heavier foods like oatmeal, etc.
- What liquid do I use? Use filtered water and/or coconut water as a base as needed for texture. If you want to use less sugar, use a splash of coconut water and the rest filtered water. Sometimes I add small portions of almond, coconut, or flax milk if I want a creamier texture.
- What else can I add for flavor? Experiment with fresh herbs (parsley, mint, cilantro if you like it, etc), spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, sometimes even cayenne, and flavors like vanilla). These are all great nutrition-providing additions to your smoothies and it will keep you interested!
- What ratio of fruit and vegetable do I use? Though fruit is great, I urge you to bump up your vegetable/green intake with these smoothies. If your feeling hesitant about so much vegetable in your smoothie, like I said, start off slow with the vegetables and work your way up. There is no exact science as to how much of each ingredient you use. I’m not a counter when it comes to grams of sugar (especially when its from a fruit), but I’d be careful as to not go overboard especially if you have sugar issues, weight problems or tendency to develop candida.
- What kitchen tools do I use to make my smoothies? My best advice: Invest in a stick blender or a blender such as the Vitamix like I talk about here. But any blender will do. You’ll get what you pay for. TIP: I find it helpful to wake up in the morning, leave any frozen ingredients out on the counter for a few minutes until I’m done getting ready. When I return to make my smoothie, they are at the perfect texture for easier processing in my blender.
My Favorite Smoothie Flavor Combinations:
1. The Classic (Available All-Year Round): Apple and/or pear, banana, baby spinach or choice of green, cucumber, fresh ginger, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, vanilla bean and optional almond/coconut milk. Delicious and tastes like pie! Another play on this would be to omit the banana/ginger/cinnamon/vanilla bean and add fresh mint leaves. If you have access to and can add coconut meat flesh to either of these versions – even better. Its amazing! Its usually found in a juice bar or in the freezer section.
2. The Tropical: Pineapple, a little banana, optional fresh squeezed citrus juice like lime or orange/tangerine, cucumber, arugula (or other green if your not into arugula but I urge you to try it!), coconut water.
3. Strawberry Banana: Strawberry, banana, spinach or kale, cucumber, coconut water.
4. Blueberry Peach Mint: Blueberries, peach or nectarine, a tiny bit of banana, cucumber, mint leaves, kale or spinach, coconut water. Peaches and nectarines peak from around May-August but you can find peaches frozen all year round.
5. The Pseudo Watermelon Juice: Blend watermelon, cucumber, spinach or arugula, mint, and coconut water. It comes out super thin and like a refreshing watermelon juice! Best in summer time when watermelon is at its peak.
There are an infinite amount of possibilities – experiment with what you have on hand! Any questions? Comment below!