If one of your resolutions for the new year is to lose some weight, it can be very tempting to save calories by skipping breakfast. Resist the urge! Research has confirmed time and again that skipping breakfast is one of the best things you can do...if you want to sabotage your weight loss goals! So, what can you do to make sure that you eat a healthy breakfast, loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids that will only take 10 minutes to make and can be eaten on the run? Try a green smoothie.
Most of us have trouble fitting enough fruits and vegetables into ours and our family members' diets, particularly the leafy greens. We know that they are beneficial to our health - they improve digestion, rehydrate our bodies and boost our immune systems. Let's face it, though, creativity runs short when it comes to preparing leafy greens in a palatable manner. Still, they are one of the best foods we can eat to help us lose weight and re-energize and rejuvenate our bodies. How do we resolve this conundrum? It's not as difficult as you may think. When mixed with fruit in your blender, you won't even taste these nutrition powerhouses and you can even fool your kids into eating their greens.
Smoothies are an excellent way to disguise other superfoods, besides leafy greens, that we normally would not voluntarily place on the menu. A scoop of whey, hemp seeds, coconut oil and flax seed can all be hidden beneath a few servings of fruit for a tasty, refreshing drink that will kick start your weight loss and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Green smoothies also allow for easier digestion and assimilation of the nutrients found in produce. An added bonus - they give you more energy than a cup of coffee without all the jitters.
If you're just getting started with smoothies, it is not necessary to take out a second mortgage to buy a high-end blender or smoothie maker. A standard blender will work just fine. When choosing fruits and veggies, don't break the budget. Frozen fruits and greens are just as nutritious as fresh ones and can cost significantly less. If you have an overabundance of produce from your summer garden or CSA share, simply freeze them for use throughout the winter and spring. The frozen fruit is easier on your blender than ice cubes and gives the smoothie a creamier consistency. A smoothie will retain it's peak nutritional value for up to 12 hours before the nutrients begin to breakdown so feel free to mix up a batch the night before to save you some time in the morning. Store it in the refrigerator, pour into a travel mug and head out the door for your busy day. Talk about fast food!
One of the best things about a smoothie is the versatility. Its a great way to use up leftover salad greens before they go bad or to get rid of the extra kale you didn't use up in that soup. Do you have bananas sitting on the counter, turning a funky shade of brown? Toss them into the freezer to use in your smoothie. Start with this basic recipe and once you feel comfortable with it, add more greens and channel your inner chef. Get creative, whip up new combinations, add cinnamon to regulate blood sugar or lemon juice to help detoxify your liver or fresh parsley to help reduce water retention. The possibilities are endless!
Basic Green Smoothie Recipe
- 1 banana (preferrably frozen to replace ice)
1 or 2 - 1/2 cup servings of fruit (strawberries with tops still on, peaches, an apple, blueberries, pineapple, orange)
1 cup of greens (alternate greens every day - spinach, kale, chard, lettuce, parsley, collards)
1 scoop powdered or 1/4 cup of liquid whey, plain yogurt or kefir
1 tbsp organic, unrefined coconut oil, flaxseed oil or hempseed oil
Liquid (almond milk, water, juice), just enough to thin smoothie for easier blending
Place all ingredients into the blender and start blending on low, gradually increasing the speed. Stop blender occasionally to help mix the smoothie with a spoon (don't burn out your blender!) and add small amounts of your chosen liquid to thin the mixture. When the mixture begins to blend smoothly, without help, allow the blender to run for approximately two more minutes to give the greens time to be sufficiently pureed. Pour into a glass or to-go container and enjoy!