'Tis the Season for... Smoothies!

Anytime I read an article titled “7 Easiest Ways to Lose 10 Pounds” or “The One Secret You Need to Know to Curb Cravings,” I get the same, unhelpful advice: eat breakfast. I rarely miss breakfast. I might go so far as to say I never miss breakfast. Although I know a lot of people skip breakfast, I can’t believe they do. Aren’t people hungry in the morning? Don’t they love eating as much as I do?

Although I always eat breakfast, I don’t always make good choices. My work provides breakfast every Monday morning, and it’s usually pastries or bagels. Although there’s always fruit on the side, it’s hard to pick the same tired mix of melon over a tasty Einstein’s everything bagel. And when I eat breakfast at home the rest of the week, I usually go straight for anything with carbs over something healthier such as fruit and yogurt.

Since December is an especially challenging month to balance everything and still squeeze in workouts and eating well, I am trying to start as many days at possible this month with a smoothie. I was really into smoothies this summer, but I got tired of drinking my breakfast all the time. After a few month hiatus, I’m ready to bring the smoothies back (plus I have tons of unused protein powder that isn’t doing me any good on the shelf). Smoothies are a great way to cram a lot of nutrients and deliciousness into one meal. Plus, they are super filling. If I just eat toast for breakfast, I’ll be hungry by 10 a.m. If I eat a smoothie, I won’t be hungry again until lunch.

I have a smoothie recipe book, but I don’t use it much. When I’m in a hurry getting ready for work, I usually just throw things into the blender. Proportions of ingredients are negligible. If it’s too thick, I’ll add water or milk until I have the right consistency. If it’s not thick enough, I’ll add more ice, fruit, or yogurt. Here are the ingredients I try to keep on hand to make smoothies:

  • Almond milk. I am a cheese addict, so I don’t really need any more dairy in my life. That means milk is out. Soy milk is okay, but I like the taste of almond milk better. I don’t typically use flavored almond milk because the other ingredients add so much flavor.
  • Yogurt. I go with plain old greek yogurt because it is quite good for you compared to some other yogurts. It thickens up the smoothie and makes it more filling.
  • Frozen fruit. You can also use ice, but fruit is more nutritious and tastes better. If I buy too much fresh fruit and can’t finish it all before it goes bad, I’ll just pop it in the freezer and use it for a smoothie later. A smoothie with rotten fruit does not taste great (I know because I’ve tried), but fruit frozen one or two days past its prime tastes perfectly fine once blended.
  • Fresh spinach. Spinach is super good for you and doesn’t change the consistency or flavor of smoothies. Really, it’s true! It will add a green tint to smoothies, and depending on what fruit you’re using, could turn them brown or purple. But who cares what it looks like if it tastes good?
  • Protein powder. This is totally a preference thing. Some protein powder tastes chalky and adds a weird consistency to smoothies. But I have found some brands I like, particularly Trader Joe's Chocolate Whey Protein powder. When I’m making a smoothie with frozen strawberries, mangos, or raspberries, I go with vanilla protein powder.
  • Chia seeds. If I have these on hand, I’ll toss a spoonful in. They’re tiny seeds that have a bunch of health benefits and are a good source of fiber, so good for digestion.
  • Peanut butter. It’s a great complement to banana and chocolate protein powder, though I wouldn’t recommend adding it to a smoothie with berries or most other fruits.

Betsy Mikel | betsymikel.com