One of the most difficult things about living, working and educating at home is mornings. They are always crazy with kids doing chores and preparing for school. Occasionally, my husband or I are trying to meet a last minute work deadline. And there’s always that one child who just won’t. get. out. of. bed.
Somewhere in the middle of the chaos, five other people have the audacity to expect food. I haven’t completely won over my family to the health benefits and ease of the smoothie alone. However, sometimes it is the only way to squeeze my own breakfast into the drama we call morning.
If you want all the science and exact recipes and health benefits of a breakfast smoothie, they abound on the internet. I’ve even written about them a few times myself. My recipe file holds the dairy-free version, the fruit-free version, the high-protein version and the sweet-without-sugar version.
I imagine you may be something like me if you’re reading this at all. You know how to throw some greens and fruit into a blender. You know how to get it just the right shade of green so your kids make slurping sounds instead of gagging sounds when you hand them a cup. You just need the whole process to go a little quicker and, well, smoother.
Here are few tips I’ve started using to make at least my breakfast virtually effortless:
When I first started making green smoothies, I would get the large bags of kale or spinach and take handfuls from them each day for my smoothie. Inevitably, I would not finish the bag before the greens started taking on a brown hue. If I invested in organic greens, throwing some away hurt my frugal sensibilities even more than usual.
I also noticed that the more greens I used, the less cold my smoothie became. That was not acceptable because I like my smoothies to be very cold without watering them down with ice.
One day I had a brainstorm, and I now buy large bags or tubs of greens and put them directly into the freezer. When I want a smoothie, I just pull out a handful. They are cold, they stay green and I can keep them for months just like I do my frozen fruit.
It should go without saying that I do not thaw them out and put them on a salad. I imagine that may even make me gag. I also hear the hard core smoothie makers arguing about fresh greens and enzymes. I’ll take a chance with less than optimal enzymes if I can use a whole bag of rainbow kale without adding brown to the rainbow.
It seems each health expert has a different opinion on smoothies. With the Paleo diet trending now, the only acceptable fruit to eat is berries since they were supposedly abundant in caveman times. Along with pigs, apparently, since bacon seems to be the holy grail of the movement. But I digress.
While fruits like bananas, melon and pineapple may be high sugar fruits, they are very different from adding straight sugar to a smoothie. I actually have the audacity to believe that fruit was the mainstay of the human diet until after the Fall of man since God put them in a garden with fruit trees for their food. But again, I digress.
For those not afraid of fruit, frozen bananas are the main ingredient in many green smoothies. I must be more evolved than my caveman ancestors because I do not share the monkey’s penchant for bananas. (Insert sarcasm….I in no way believe in evolution as a valid or logical means of origin.) I also doubt that a banana was the fruit that enticed Eve to commit the first sin, but that argument could have logical flaws as well. If you like bananas, they are a great addition to smoothies.
Pineapple is another high sugar fruit that makes sugar unnecessary in a smoothie. However, the most nutritious part is the core. If you have ever tried to gnaw on a pineapple core, you may have discarded that as useless information. However, I had another brainstorm while getting ready to throw away a pineapple core one day. I put it in a bag and tossed it in the freezer next to my bag of greens. When it was frozen solid, I used my vegetable peeler to peel strips off the frozen core and put them in my smoothie. I had a delicious pineapple flavor, didn’t need sugar at all and got the mysterious benefits of eating a pineapple core while keeping my teeth intact. Even the fruitophobes couldn’t say much with the little bit it takes to sweeten up my smoothie.
If you’re into smoothies, chances are you have also heard about the latest and greatest protein powders. I’ve tried quite a few myself. My pantry has boasted the grass-fed cows’ whey version, the completely raw plant-based version and a few in between versions that tasted like a mix of chalk and grass.
While I don’t deny there are some healthy protein powders, they certainly drive up the cost and usually drive down the taste. I’m personally a little doubtful about them as real food. I think there is a reason God generally creates proteins as something to chew twenty-five times rather than gulp.
I’m currently experimenting with collagen as my protein source. Yes, it is a powder, but the label has one ingredient. There is no taste, and it also makes the smoothie more filling while keeping the cost down.
Some other things I love to add to smoothies for protein are peanut butter (don’t tell the Paleo people), nuts and seeds. A great seed to add that doesn’t change the taste but does make the smoothie thicker is chia seeds. An ounce is about 16% protein according to an unscientific Google search. Since the only body building I have done is the four children I’ve carried in my womb, I don’t worship protein and that’s enough for me.