Thursday, February 20, 2014

Healthy and Delicious and Possibly Green Smoothie Recipe

I have struggled with my weight since high school. I love to eat, and I have a major sweet tooth. But lately, I have stopped struggling and just calmed down about the whole thing. I exercise, I eat a lot of healthy foods, and I still eat some not-so-healthy foods - a girl's gotta have her chocolate (every day). I try to follow two very basic premises: eat when you're hungry (and don't eat when you're not); and fuel your body primarily with real food. And my weight has settled in a comfortable place. Not skinny, not fat, but I am fitter than I was in my 20s. And I can live with that.

So I wanted to share a recipe I made up. It's nothing revolutionary, just a basic smoothie that can be whipped up in a few minutes for a quick and healthy meal or snack. I don't really measure the ingredients; I only did so for the purposes of writing it out here. Every ingredient can be changed to suit your tastes, but this is a good jumping off point if you're looking to get into smoothies.

This recipe makes a BIG smoothie, plenty enough to hold me until lunch. I drink it out of a 24 oz tumbler myself; it won't fit into anything smaller in one pour. I really don't count calories, but I did a rough count here and if you follow it as written originally, it'll be under 300 calories. And it tastes like a delicious, sweet treat.

Possibly Green Smoothie:
1/2 cup unflavored non-fat Greek yogurt (If you want it sweeter, use flavored yogurt of your choice. But try to stick to Greek; just a half cup has about 11 grams of protein. Use more yogurt if you want more protein or if you like a yogurt-y taste. At this amount, you can hardly tell there is yogurt in the smoothie.)
1/2 cup blueberries (Or literally any fruit you like. Blueberries and other dark berries make the smoothie purple. If you want your smoothie to be an attractive bright GREEN, then use a yellowish fruit, like pineapple, pear, peach, mango, apple, cantaloupe, honeydew, or mandarin oranges. Those little individual fruit cups they sell for kids' lunches are perfectly sized; I buy the no-added-sugar-or-sweetener kind and throw the whole cup in, juice and all.)
1/2 banana (Even if you're not a huge banana fan - I'm not - but half a banana is just enough to add sweetness and creaminess.)
1-2 cups fresh kale - (Do not pack it in. If you use frozen, which is already condensed, I'd use a lot less; maybe half a cup. You can also use any other sort of green: spinach, chard, or whatever floats your boat.)
1/2 cup seedless grapes (You may want to use red if your other fruit is a berry of some kind - they tend to be sweeter and offset the berries' tartness. You can use green grapes if you're going for a really green smoothie.)
1/2 cup ice and/or water (If you're using all frozen fruit, you can use little to no ice; if you're using fresh, then make it all ice.)
Have water (or milk/juice of your choice) handy to pour in if your smoothie is too thick.

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend at high speed. I like my Vitamix but you certainly don't need such an expensive blender for a smoothie. I like that it totally pulverizes the ice, makes the kale invisible (I don't find green flecks appealing) and gives me a really smooth texture.
The green version, with mango instead of berries

Sorry, I'm not a food photographer - this does taste better than it looks!
I drink this for breakfast all year round, even in the winter. I alternate with sips of coffee (I know, I know - but it really does taste fine) to avoid getting chilled. Ha!

Edited to add: A friend pointed out that the latest research indicates that eating too much raw kale may interfere with thyroid function. Just in case, I've stopped using raw kale every day. I generally either cook the kale first, or use another green like spinach.

Do you have any favorite, tried and true, healthy and totally delicious recipes?

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