The Nutty Nana Green Smoothie

The Nutty Nana

As I was making my breakfast smoothie this morning, I was craving peanut butter and bananas. I tend to go on a throw-in fest when it comes to my breakfast smoothies, as it seems like such an opportune time to cram some nutrition into my body. But today, I stuck to my inspiration, and The Nutty Nana was born.

The Nutty Nana Green Smoothie

The Nutty Nana Green Smoothie

The Nutty Nana Smoothie

by Shelly

Prep Time: 5 mins

Ingredients (1-2 servings)

  • 1 C non-dairy milk (such as almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, or soymilk)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 5 strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 C mixed nuts
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter or powdered peanut butter (such as PB2)
  • 2 Tbsp hemp protein powder or other unflavored protein powder
  • 2 C fresh baby spinach
  • 2 Tsp green powder (such as Veggie Magma), optional
  • 4 ice cubes

Instructions

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender (such as the Vitamix) and blend on high for 30 seconds.

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Soymilk, banana, and Kitchen Sink nut butter smoothie

Smoothie Construction

The addition of a Vitamix to my household has definitely changed my breakfast habits for the better. Dare I say, the Vitamix has become a full fledged member of the family? I do.

For those unfamiliar with the Vitamix, it’s a high-powered blender (and by high-powered, I mean, it boasts a 2 horsepower motor). I argued with myself for years that it couldn’t be much different from a regular blender. I was wrong. Every Vitamix owner I’ve ever encountered will tell you that it’s unlike any other blender on the market. It doesn’t just “blend.” It can completely liquify everything I’ve ever thrown in it – entire apples, nuts, seeds, you name it. No chunks. No bits. Smooth, luscious liquid, ready for slurping with a straw.

I’ve got the Vitamix 5200 model, which I bought as a package at my local Costco. They don’t always carry it – but when they do, it’s a rare chance to get sub-retail pricing. These things don’t go “on sale.” Yes, $500 is a lot to spend on a blender, but like I said – it’s so much more than a blender. It has replaced my old blender, my food processor, AND my juicer. Heck, it even kneads dough (but I love my bread machine too much to give it up!)

For the first few weeks of Vitamix ownership, I relied on recipes to make my morning smoothies. As time went on, though, I came up with a blueprint for smoothie-building that I now use every day. I drink smoothies for 2 reasons:

1) They’re fast and portable. (Breakfast while driving to work, anyone?!)

2) They’re a delicious way for me to sneak in nutrition from foods I don’t like to eat. (Sneaky sneaky!)

If you’ve thought about incorporating smoothies into your daily routine, I highly recommend it! While any blender can make a smoothie, less powerful blenders will not be able to liquify all of the ingredients I recommend (which can result in clumps or chunks of food in your smoothie). No harm, no foul, though – don’t let that stop you from trying if you haven’t invested in a high-powered blender yet!

My smoothie blueprint has a few components. To build a perfect smoothie, blend up one or two items from each category and, voila! For best blending results, add liquids and heavy solids first, then powders, then greens. This gives the most intense blending to those heavier foods, and allows you to use the tamper to push the lighter powders and greens down into the mix as things get going. Also, be sure that you have one frozen component in your mix. If you aren’t using frozen fruit or another frozen item, just add 4 or 5 ice cubes on top. This prevents the smoothie from warming due to the high power of the blender. Blend for 30 seconds on high power, or until everything looks smooth. Adjust the amount of liquid to your consistency preferences; I tend to always start with 1C liquid, and if it looks a little too thick, I just add a few tablespoons of water as it is blending.

Components (choose 1 or more from each category – makes 1 large 32oz serving or 2 small 16oz servings):

Liquid Base (1 cup): milk (dairy or non-dairy) such as soymilk, almond milk, or hemp milk, coconut water, tart cherry juice, other fruit juice, water, etc. Or, mix and match (I like to do 3/4C milk and 1/4C tart cherry juice).

Fruit & Veg Base: 1 ripe banana and 1 carrot

Protein: 1/4 cup powder (such as Vega, hemp protein powder, soy protein powder, whey protein powder, etc), or 1/2 block silken tofu

Green Powder (1 tsp): spirulina or Veggie Magma

Healthy fat (1 tbsp): peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter, or powdered peanut butter (such as PB2), or 1/2 of an avocado

Nuts & Seeds (handful): mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds

Fruits (1 cup): fresh or frozen strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, apple, pear, kiwi, peach, plum, melon, etc.

Greens (1-2 handfuls): raw baby spinach, chard, kale, collards, or other leafy greens

Sweetener (optional): 1-2 pitted dates or 1 tsp agave nectar

In most cases, I do not use additional sweetener. If my banana is not quite ripe, I’ll add a couple dates to the mix, but otherwise, there tends to be plenty of sweetness from the fruit. Some stronger greens like chard or collards may benefit from a little bit more sweetness to offset the bitter flavor.

I try to mix up my choices from each category. If I used a canister of hemp protein powder this month, then next month I’ll use a rice protein powder. If I used kale as my main green this week, I’ll use spinach next week and chard the week after that. If I used pumpkin seeds this month, I’ll use sunflower seeds next month. I try to limit my use of soymilk, since I eat tofu once or twice a week and don’t want to overdo it on the soy. (Unsweetened vanilla almond milk is my current favorite liquid base, as it’s low calorie and delicious. I don’t mind its low protein count because I add protein powder to my smoothies).

If I’m going for a flavor theme, I might skip a category, but for my usual breakfast smoothie, I try to hit all of the bases for nutrition purposes. I also try to pair up things that nutritionally work well together. For example, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are good sources of iron, and Vitamin C helps with iron absorption – so I try to mix high-C fruits with pumpkin seeds.

Avocados and silken tofu add the most wonderful creamy texture to a smoothie. Try one or the other and see for yourself!

I usually have my smoothies for breakfast, though sometimes have them for lunch instead. I’ll also whip up a smoothie as a late-afternoon snack if I’m feeling tired. I experience a noticeable dip in my energy levels if I go 2 or 3 days without a smoothie. It’s such an easy way to pack in nutrition! I do take a multivitamin a few days per week, but I prefer to get as much nutrition as possible from real food. I’m not a whole-foods saint, but smoothies improve my chances quite a bit.

Lastly, when it comes to choosing produce, I try to go for organic produce for anything I would eat the skins of. So, I do not buy organic bananas or avocados most of the time, but I do buy organic greens, carrots, berries, apples, etc.

And there you have it! My smoothie blueprint! What are your favorite smoothie combos?

Organic Red Chard

Nuts Over My Chard

Is it weird to drink a new veggie before ever eating it?

I tried out a beautiful leaf of organic red chard today. I’ve never eaten chard before, but at the time of this photo, I was about to drink it!

Organic Red Chard

Organic Red Chard, about to go into the Vitamix

This turned out to be an excellent smoothie! It was light and nutty and didn’t taste green at all. I don’t mind green-tasting smoothies, but I’m also glad to whip up a few concoctions that don’t taste green. It didn’t look green, either.

Nutty Chard Green Smoothie

Nutty Chard Green Smoothie (that doesn’t look green)

The one big leaf equals a little over 1 cup of greens, which is about what I use in my single servings. It worked out well!

This makes about 1 quart total – 432 calories in one large serving, or 216 if you split it with a friend. You can swap the nuts for any variety you like – I’ve used walnuts, cashews, and even 1 scoop of PB2 in place of the nuts. It’s delicious every which way. (Different nuts or PB2 will affect the nutrition content – this info was generated based on walnuts). Full nutrition info follows the recipe.

Enjoy!

Nutty Chard Green Smoothie

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Ingredients (1-2 servings)

  • 1 cup vanilla soymilk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 leaf swiss chard (approximately 1 cup, packed)
  • 3 slices pineapple, round
  • 5 medium strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 cup walnuts or other nuts
  • 3 inch hunk of cucumber, peeled (about 1/4 of a medium cucumber)
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Instructions

Blend in a high powered blender or Vitamix until smooth, approximately 45 seconds.

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Lite Brite

What’s That, Johnny Appleseed?

Today’s lesson includes a trip down Cyanide Lane and concludes with a tasty smoothie concoction!

We’ve all heard that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Turns out, there’s something to that. WebMD lists medical uses of apples that include prevention of cancers (particularly lung cancer), treatment of cancer, diabetes, and heart problems, and more. Say what?!

I’ve tried for years to get myself to eat more apples. I like apples. I’m just not a big fan of eating apples. I’ve wasted countless bags of red delicious, golden delicious, granny smith, gala, and local varieties as they’ve gone bad before I could finish them. I successfully finished my first full bag of apples recently, thanks to my Breville Juice Fountain Plus. With my new toy in town (the Vitamix 5200!), I’m hoping to keep the apple streak alive.

The store demo of the Vitamix used a whole apple, but when it came time to make my own smoothies, I couldn’t help thinking there was something wrong with eating the apple seeds. Of course, initial Google searches would have me believe that I’ll die a slow, painful death if I even think about eating an apple seed. There is, however, some truth to the notion.

Apple seeds contain amygdaline, a cyanide and sugar compound that, when digested, forms hydrogen cyanide [source, source]. Consumed in small quantities, the body can detoxify the cyanide and it poses little to no risk. In larger quantities, though, it is lethal (just like in the old murder mysteries). Stories about tell tales that even a cup of apple seeds can kill a man. (Considering there are 4-6 seeds per apple, it would take a LOT of apples to kill a man!). Still, the risk is even higher if the seeds are chewed orĀ pulverizedĀ (like the Vitamix would do!) rather than swallowed whole, as whole seeds are generally passed without being broken down – and the cyanide compound is inside the seed, beneath its hard shell.

As likely as it is that the seeds from an apple a day would not kill me, I’m not a big fan of the idea of ingesting toxins just because my body can and likely will detoxify them. It’s the same reason I prefer organics over conventional produce. While pesticides on produce won’t likely kill me in small quantities, I don’t see the point of making my body work to detoxify the chemicals in pesticides when I don’t have to. The work the body does to detoxify all of these chemicals in the foods we eat and the air we breathe increases inflammation, and chronic inflammation can aggravate the immune system. Studies are beginning to show that inflammation is one of the biggest contributors to a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease [source].

So, why eat apple seeds if I don’t have to? I’ll leave the gambling to the poker table and keep it off my kitchen table.

That is why I slice my apples and remove the seeds before throwing them into the Vitamix.

But nevermind the cyanide and killer toxins – we’ve got a smoothie to devour!

I call this one the “Lite Brite PB Smoothie” because it turns out a less-than-scary bright shade of green and tastes sweet and peanut buttery but not heavy. Put light and bright together, and you have the awesome light-coloring toy of my youth:

Lite Brite

Lite Brite – Source

Once upon a time, a band called the Dyslexic Apaches put a Lite Brite on stage at one of their shows to wish me a happy birthday. It’s one of my top 10 memories of all times.

I digress…

This is a delicious smoothie and packs a great nutritional punch for breakfast or a midday snack! The entire recipe clocks in at 462 calories (one large serving), or can be split into two 8-oz servings for 231 calories each. (Full nutrition info follows the recipe). You can substitute peanut butter for the PB2 powdered peanut butter, but that will increase the calories and fat content.

Let’s get to blending!

PB Lite Brite Green Smoothie

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Keywords: blender beverage breakfast vegetarian vegan gluten-free kale pb2 zucchini apple

Ingredients (1-2 servings)

  • 1 small apple, seeded
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 1 large handful kale leaves
  • 1/4 of one zucchini, ends removed
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (soymilk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc)
  • 2 tbsp PB2 powdered peanut butter
  • 2 tsp spirulina or barley grass juice powder, optional
  • 1 cup ice

Instructions

Blend in a high powered blender or Vitamix for 45 seconds. Enjoy!

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Lite Brite PB Smoothie Nutrition

Lite Brite PB Smoothie Nutrition

An Un-Winning Smoothie Combo

I’ve got another new recipe post coming up soon, but thought I’d jump on and share an un-winning smoothie combo that I came up with today (so that you don’t try it with the same results!)

Two things worked to my disadvantage: first, I was out of vanilla soy milk, so I used regular skim milk. I did not realize just how much flavor I actually get from the soy milk – it’s much more dense, maybe a bit more sweet, and… well, it’s vanilla. Second, the fruit combo I chose was not sweet or powerful enough to mask the taste of the greens – so this tasted more like cucumbers than anything else.

The mix:

1 cup skim milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
2 carrots
1 handful baby spinach
1/3 of a cucumber
1 whole apple
1 whole pear

So… it seems like fruits with stronger or sweeter flavors are required to mask out the taste of the greens. Strawberries are a standard component of my smoothies, and even when I only use 3 or 4 strawberries, they make a huge difference. I was just trying to mix it up today, and even though I used a whole pear and a whole apple, they weren’t sweet enough to be noticeable. I couldn’t even taste them.

The end result was incredibly bland and tasted mildly of cucumber. I won’t be making this combo again!

Purple Smoothie!

This morning’s smoothie concoction was PURPLE thanks to strawberries and blueberries!

purple smoothie

Tip: stick to 1/2 cucumber. I tried a whole cucumber in the smoothie today (along with 2 carrots, 3 strawberries, and a handful of Blender - purple smoothieblueberries, plus vanilla soy milk and vanilla protein powder), and I could taste the cucumber. Good thing I like cucumbers!

Have a great day, everybody!

Cool Pink Smoothie

In my quest to discover, “Will it blend?” I made up a new smoothie concoction tonight. I call it: the Cool Pink Smoothie.

I suppose it could be called a “green” smoothie, if by “green” you mean, it contains vegetables (or, 2 culinary vegetables but 1 botanical vegetable and 1 botanical fruit). That whole fruit-or-vegetable thing will confound me for life. But anyway….

It’s a delicious, cool, crisp drink full of strawberry vanilla goodness!

As I tossed everything (including 2 carrots, half a cucumber, and 5 strawberries) in the blender, I thought to myself, “That looks wonderful!” I should have run to grab my camera but I was too excited to mix it all up.

Behold:

Carrot Cucumber Smoothie

The verdict: delish! Absolutely wonderful!

[recipe-show recipe=cool-pink-smoothie]

My First Green Smoothie

If you’ve ever shared a meal with me, you know that I tend to shun most vegetables. Some I avoid due to what I call my “texture issues” – I love tomato products, but can’t stand how tomatoes feel in my mouth, for example. (Wait… is tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Botanically, it’s a fruit, but for culinary purposes, it’s a vegetable – so I’m going with vegetable!) I’m working on these “issues,” and quite honestly, food therapy seems to me one of the better forms of therapy out there!

With my 2010 resolution to try 10 new foods, an unspoken subtitle to that quest is to eat more vegetables. To help my cause, I’m seeking ways to sneak in vegetables where I won’t notice them. Enter: the Green smoothie.

I’m not new to the smoothie world; I described my typical morning smoothie earlier this year (though, personally, I do prefer to call them shakes). I am, however, completely new to putting vegetables in my blender. After reading many reports that it is in fact possible to add spinach to a smoothie and not be able to taste it, I thought that would make an excellent experiment for my “eat 10 new foods” resolution.

Green Vanilla Banana Smoothie in blenderThis Green smoothie isn’t much different from my typical morning smoothie, aside from the obvious addition of baby spinach. I added the flax seed meal and yogurt for some added health benefits (in the form of omega-3’s, antioxidants, and live cultures/probiotics). The blueberries were added mostly because that’s all I had left of them. (Blueberries also add a nice dose of Vitamin C – you can’t have enough weapons in your arsenal to fight off cold and flu season).

This smoothie tastes like vanilla and bananas. It looks green, but I certainly can’t tell that there’s spinach in it (and I’m a fairly picky customer!). It was delicious, and I’ll be adding baby spinach to my future smoothies!

Use this smoothie as a quick breakfast or a great post-workout nutritional shake.

[recipe-show recipe=green-vanilla-banana-smoothie]

Morning Smoothie

I’m a smoothie kind of girl. No, not with my pickup lines… with my breakfasts. This is mostly a side effect of also being a sleep-in kind of girl. I rarely wake up early enough to have sufficient time to prepare a good breakfast. And, since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I try not to skip it.

The solution that allows me to both sleep in and have a nutritious breakfast: smoothies.Nature's Way Alive Soy Protein Shake

Throw some stuff in the blender, cover my ears for a few seconds, and voila. Morning goodness.

I’ve been making smoothies for years. It’s the one healthy thing I’ve managed to continue doing for myself, even when other habits haven’t been so healthy.

Today’s smoothie is based on the Nature’s Way Alive! Soy Protein shake mix, vanilla flavor. I got this mix at Whole Foods Market for around $18. It contains non-GMO soy and is more than just a soy protein shake, but a whole foods shake, including nutrients from 24 different fruits and vegetables.