By: Ellie Foster, Program Manager, MPH
I’ve always been a big breakfast gal. Give me a plate of pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs anytime and I’ll be happy. The problem is, that kind of breakfast isn’t the healthiest start to the day and it also isn’t the most practical from a time standpoint.
Thus my boring and utilitarian work-week breakfasts. I usually find time for a bowl of cereal and maybe a piece of toast with peanut butter. Sometimes in the winter I have oatmeal. CRAZY! This boring routine was working ok for me until I found out I was pregnant. All of a sudden, my hunger levels reached new heights, yet my tolerance for certain foods plummeted. My routine breakfast of cereal and toast was only holding me over until I got to work at 8 am and then I was starving again. Not only that-I also struggled to find healthy snacks and meals. Things I used to enjoy like a salad at lunch time or yogurt for a mid-morning snack no longer were enough. I was afraid of falling in to a routine of binging on junk food just to satisfy my hunger. It was s important for me to get the nutrients I needed while giving my body the right amount of calories.
After some googling, I decided to see whether a smoothie could be my solution. Now let me be clear, I have never really been a smoothie person. My blender rarely saw the light of day until about 8 months ago. My goal with this smoothie venture was to find a mix that helped me get the fruits and veggies I really needed while adding a few extra calories that could help keep me full. After some trial and error, I think I’ve landed on just the right mix. So without further ado, let me share with you my go-to smoothie recipe and some lessons learned along the way.
Smoothie Making Equipment
When I first learned about smoothies, I kept coming across people who were obsessed with their fancy and expensive blenders. While I wish I had the budget for one of those, I decided to just make do with my plain old 25 dollar blender. Could it blend finer or faster? Probably. But I didn’t need this smoothie to be perfect. I needed it to be quick and easy. So to you I say: “Save your money-any old blender will work.”
The next key piece of equipment was an insulated cup and a hard plastic straw. My smoothie had to be portable for me to drink on the way to work. I found my employee appreciation mug to be the perfect solution (thanks Maine Medical Center!). It keeps the smoothie cold without making my hands cold or sweating condensation everywhere. A hard plastic or metal straw (reusable to save the environment) fits perfectly in the top of the mug which is great because I don’t have to worry about dumping the smoothie all over myself with each sip.
Lastly I would suggest having a toothbrush on hand. Because my blender doesn’t have a Rolls Royce engine, it doesn’t blend up everything into a super fine mix. Some chunks of fruits and veggies may remain, which means I have been known to walk in to work with a piece of blueberry stuck to my teeth. A quick rinse with a tooth brush takes care of that problem.
Ingredients and recipe
The core ingredients I use in my smoothie include:
- Unsweetened almond milk (you could use unsweetened vanilla almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk or cow’s milk too- whatever your taste preference).Keep in mind that sweetened milk versions will have more calories, coconut milk can be high is saturated fat, and that cow’s milk has more protein, calcium and potassium than some of the plant-based milk options.
- Frozen Maine blueberries (support our Maine industries!)
- Frozen pineapple
- Spinach (you don’t even taste it- I swear!)
- Flax seeds ( I get a bag at Trader Joe’s)
- Unrefined coconut oil
Depending on my hunger I may add:
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Powdered peanut butter
Using frozen fruit is important because it gives the smoothie a nice texture. I use unrefined coconut oil because it has more of a coconut flavor which I like. If you are not in to a coconut flavor, you might want to try refined coconut oil. If you are not really feeling the need to add extra calories and healthy fat to your diet, you can skip this ingredient all together.
Making the smoothie
Here is where the magic happens. I don’t really measure a whole lot when making this smoothie. I go more based on texture and taste. Here is a rough guide:
- 8 ounces of almond milk
- 1 cup of frozen blueberries
- Handful of frozen pineapple ( the more pineapple, the sweeter the smoothie)
- Half a banana (can be frozen)
- Handful of spinach
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons flax seed
Blend until “smooth”. I never get every little grain blended up, but I try to make it as smooth as possible. The texture should be on the thicker side but there shouldn’t be chunks of anything (unless you like extra texture). I usually need a spoon to help transfer the smoothie from the blender in to my mug. If I taste it and it’s a little bland, I’ll add more pineapple. Because this is not a yogurt-based smoothie, the texture is a bit more icy and “Slurpee”-like. If you don’t have a straw, you will probably find you need a spoon to get the smoothie from the cup to your mouth.
For clean up, I just put the blender in the sink, fill it with water and deal with it when I get home- and that’s it! Happy blending!
If you are looking for more inspiration for smoothie recipes to try, check out some of our new titles at our Learning Resource Centers:
- Healthy Smoothie Recipe Book. Easy mix and match smoothie recipes for a healthier you. Koslo, Jennifer, 2015.
- The Smoothie Recipe Book for Beginners. Essential smoothies to get healthy, lose weight and feel great. Mendocino Press, 2014.
- The Blender Girls smoothies.100 gluten-free, vegan and paleo-friendly recipes. Masters, Tess. 2014.
- Super-Charged Smoothies. More than 60 recipes for energizing smoothies. Mary Barber and Sarah Whiteford, 2010.
Just call 1-866-609-5183 or email us at HealthQuestions@MaineHealth.org and we can put a book in the mail to you.
If you would like more information on this, or any other health related topic, the Health Educators at the Learning Resource Center are happy to help. They provide trusted & reliable health information and connect people to local resources in the community. Connect with a health educator today! Be well, be well-informed.