Thursday, May 9, 2013

(Green) Smoothies for Beginners

Green Mango Smoothie

Let me say this first: you don't have to be a hero with the green. You're eating leaves. You're putting leaves in your smoothie and drinking them. And as far as I'm concerned, these are bonus greens. Bonus greens! Two handfuls of green things that you wouldn't have gotten any other way. So I wouldn't start with kale (it's a little ... stinky), or chard, or dandelion greens, though all of these might be in your future. (Trader Joe's has a really nice baby-greens blend with kale and spinach and chard that I've been meaning to buy again ...) For now, try baby spinach. I mean it about the baby part. It's nicer; not quite so overwhelmingly green.

And then, you need to find your smoothie formula.

I think smoothies are personal things, you know? You have to find what you like in all sorts of areas--thickness and temperature and sweetness and fruit combinations and how much green you can handle. And I realize it's blaspheme in some circles, but I am not into banana in my smoothies. It takes over all of the other flavors and makes me sad. Also, I have yet to find a protein powder that I like that doesn't make things too frothy for me and doesn't cost one billion dollars, so I just use yogurt as the protein. (I am willing to be converted to protein powder ... and de-converted from yogurt, but I'm going with it for now.) And ever since I perfected my basic formula, I've been adding things here and there, coming up with some combinations I love. First, my formula. You're welcome to use it until you find your own.

8-12 ounces milk (I use almond--orginal, unsweetened)
1 cup yogurt (I like plain, full-fat (not Greek--too sour for me))
1 cup frozen fruit (berries, mango, strawberries, whatev)
sweetener of choice (I use 1/2 teaspoon of NuStevia--and I accept no substitutes, but that's maybe just me)
big handful (or two smaller handfuls?) of baby spinach

When I give them measurements, I mean I use the marks on the side of the blender. I pour the milk up to 8 ounces (1 cup), spoon yogurt in until it reaches 16 ounces, then the fruit up to 24--you get the idea. To make it a little thicker, more fruit. A little thinner, more liquid. A little colder/thicker, add some ice cubes. This isn't rocket science, of course, but I had to make a lot of them, tasting carefully, deciding what I liked best before I figured all of this out. This basic formula makes a good bit, but if you're having a smoothie for breakfast, then it's not an outrageous amount, to me. I often split the blenderful with Sam, but he is anti-green, so when I make it just for me and I end up with more than I think I can drink, I pour the excess in popsicle molds and whambam, I have yummy fruit popsicles.

Mango Lassi Smoothie

A Few Variations I love

*Green Mango: milk, frozen mango (Trader Joe's has awesome and cheap(ish) frozen mango), yogurt, baby spinach, sweetener
*Green Tropical: 8 oz pineapple juice, 1/2 cup milk, yogurt, mango, spinach (This is a good one for beginners. The pineapple really cuts the spinach. I can't taste it at all.)
*Kira's Green Pineapple-Lime: big wedge of frozen/fresh pineapple, tiny wedge of lime (with rind), 1 peeled orange, milk, yogurt, ice
*Scott's PB and Strawberry: milk, yogurt, a good-sized spoonful of peanut butter, a bunch of spinach, a half-dozen frozen strawberries (not too many, or it isn't good for some reason), a lot of ice
*Strawberry Oat: milk, yogurt, frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup oats, sweetener
*Mango Lassi: milk, yogurt, frozen mango, sweetener, a pinch of cardamom 
*Sam's Classic Berry (his favorite): milk, yogurt, triple berries, sweetener (I love a bit of coconut milk in this. And really, just about any of these are awesome with a bit of coconut milk, but Sam doesn't like it. Whatever with that.)
*Orange-Strawberry-Carrot (My new favorite!): 8 oz orange juice (instead of milk), 1/2 cup strawberries, handful of baby carrots or 1 peeled carrot (tried it without carrot--not as good!), 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, sweetener (you need a little extra for this one, I find) handful of ice cubes

Orange-Strawberry-Carrot Smoothie
I could have gone my whole life without smoothies, sure. But they are such an easy breakfast that I'm glad I'm on the train. I feel sort of parched until I have one. They're an easy meal, really, not just easy breakfast. Sometimes I'll be out and about and I'll get hungry and I'll wonder if I should stop somewhere. But then I'll think of my smoothie and realize that's all I want, and I'll rush home to my blender. With a few slices of still-warm toast, it's a meal that brings me great (green) joy.

3 comments:

belann said...

I do love a good green smoothie. Not so scientific about it as you are, but like to throw in the greens with SP complete, and make it a breakfast. Glad you shared some favorites to try.

Reba said...

I'm going to try the orange strawberry carrot. Yum

Amara said...

Seriously. I could do a smoothie and toast for every meal of my life. I agree about the coconut milk. Sometimes a smoothie just tastes too....harsh or something and a bit of fat smooths it out (pun intended of course!).