5.22.2012

green machine

I had one of those work weeks where I didn't have a second to breathe, let alone grab lunch. After 4 days in a row of catered pizza for lunch, pizza for dinner and the occasional greasy chinese takeout I was feeling sluggish and run down.


There was a time when I did 80-90 hour work weeks and it was just fine. I'm now officially old because that 82 hour work week KILLED me. Saturday morning on my way to the office I walked past a restaurant called Protein Bar - their tagline stated "We do healthy healthier". Feeling run down from the long hours and pizza, I went in for some breakfast. I ended up getting a "green juice" - my body craving something fresh. This juice was composed of spinach, kale, lime, cilantro and pineapple. I was nervous and excited all at the same time. I'd heard great things about green smoothies and juices but quite honestly I considered it food for health crazed people, not for people like me, who worship butter and salt.

Call me a health nut but this juice changed me. It might have been because I was delusional and overworked but it was exactly what I needed. I felt energy for the first time in days and it made me feel good from the inside out (if that even makes sense). I was hooked after my first one. 


I've been making green smoothies almost every morning for the past 2.5 months now. I've had some that were ok and most that were fantastic. I've joined the "health crazed" people while maintaining my love of butter and salt. It's all about balance, right?! I love the beautiful green smoothies I have for breakfast. They're vibrant and so perfect for Summer. They don't taste like gross veggies, they actually have a subtle sweetness (which can be adjusted based on preference). I've learned the secret to a good green smoothie thanks to my friend Natalie from college - unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I tried this stuff back on the detox and HATED it. It was gelatinous and just plain gross in my cereal. If you, like me had a bad first experience with almond milk, please give it a second chance. I did and it completely transforms this smoothie! 

A few things about green drinks… I had a hard time deciding between blending and juicing. Ultimately, I went with smoothies so I could get all the fiber and nutrients from the fruits and veggies. Once I decided on smoothies, I had to pick a blender. Lots of friends recommended a Blendtec or Vitamix but if you, like me don't have $500+ to shell out for a blender, you'll go a more reasonable rout. I did a lot of research and finally ended up choosing a kitchen aid 5-speed blender. This sucker cuts through kale and apples like nobody's business. There's never any chunks in my smoothie and I'm very satisfied with my purchase. Plus they sell it at Macy's and there's always some sort of sale or discount you can apply to it. For $180 full retail, it's much more cost effective than the high end blenders. Hopefully one day I'll own a fancy blender but until then, my kitchen aid works just fine. 

On to actual smoothie making… there's a million variations and things you can add to make a great smoothie. I've recently discovered chia seeds (again, thanks to my friend). They're flavorless and honestly, I don't notice them in my smoothie because they get pulverized - BUT, they're full of OMEGA 3 and antioxidants so I toss some in with my smoothie and I feel better knowing I'm getting some extra nutrients. I know they probably sound scary, but they're really not. If you're not down with going extra healthy (I don't blame you), you can leave them out no problem. I've added in some Emergen-C when I was feeling on the verge of sickness and that worked nicely too. TONS of improv suggestions below, just wanted to share some disclaimers before you read the recipe and went running for the hills when you saw chia seeds. Can't find them at your grocery store? You can get them on amazon, I use this brand. Seriously, don't be scared by them, they're secret health.


green smoothie
yields about 24 oz (one large smoothie or 2 small ones)

ingredients:
2 handfuls of spinach (about 2 cups slightly packed)
1 handful of kale leaves (i usually do dinosaur kale)
1½ c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 T. chia seeds
1 c. frozen pineapple chunks

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour and enjoy… it's that easy! This isn't rocket science, just dump and pour and adjust to your taste! 

improv suggestions:
any combination from the various categories will work, use your favorites! also, if you're new to green smoothies, start with spinach as it's the most mild. Avoid greens that don't have nutritional value like iceberg and romaine. if your fruits aren't frozen, add about 5-6 ice cubes to the mix. 

greens (about 3 c.): 
spinach, kale (any variety), arugula, collard greens, mixed spring greens*, ½ an avocado


*you want a green that has a lot of nutritional value so skip the iceberg and stick to the darker leafier greens

frozen or fresh fruits (about 1 - 2 c):
pineapple, apple (with peel, it gets blended up), raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, bananas, orange, lime, lemon, peaches, kiwis (2), plums

liquid base (about 1 - 2 c):
milk, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, goat milk, rice milk, brewed iced tea (black, green, herbal), water, yogurt, orange juice, lemonade, grapefruit juice, iced coffee, carrot juice, apple juice, cranberry juice

extras (about 1 - 3 T.):
peanut butter, almond butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, espresso powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, chia seeds, flax oil, protein powder, powdered vitamin packs, emergen-c or airborne, oatmeal

a little sweeter, please (to taste):
stevia sweetener (i like truvia), honey, agave nectar, sugar, molases, any artificial sweetener of your preference


Matt's favorite green smoothie (more brownish, but still):
1 frozen banana
3 c. spinach
1½ c. soy
1 giant spoon of peanut butter
1 T. chia seeds
1 T. espresso powder
1 packet truvia or a big squirt of honey

what's your favorite combination?! 




8 comments:

  1. I love the color of these smoothies. So bright and wonderful.

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    Replies
    1. thanks heather! i feel the same way when i drink them in the morning. they're so beautiful (unless you add in berries - then they turn a funky brownish color).

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  2. I LOVED reading this entry..it just brought a big smile to my face. Your description is fabulous; and very similar to what I went through. The pictures are great too. :)

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    Replies
    1. thanks cate! :)

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  3. My favourite right now is:

    1 big handful kale
    1/2 pear
    1 spoonful of tahini
    2 dates
    1 pinch each sea salt, cayenne pepper and cinnamon
    And enough water to blend!

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    Replies
    1. i never thought to use tahini or dates! i'll have to give it a try this weekend! thanks for the suggestions!

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  4. wow, I've been juicing but this is way easier-delicious, thank you! :)

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  5. HI I just found your blog!

    This smoothie recipe is delicious, I'm a green smoothie junkie too, hope you don't mind if I share this pic and recipe on my blog?

    Take care,

    Jaz xx

    ReplyDelete