Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How to Build A Green Smoothie

I am a huge fan of a healthy, protein-packed smoothie - as a meal replacement, as a workout recovery, sometimes even as a snack (fruit and veggies only). I always feel great when I have one, and we often have them for meals when we travel. 
That's right - smoothies aren't just for breakfast anymore!  They are a great "fast food" option for lunch or dinner. Whether I get one on the go or make it myself, it takes less than 5 minutes. 
For 28 days (November 3rd - 30th) I'll be replacing one meal a day with a smoothie. You should try it – for a week, for a month, for 2 days – for however long you’d like. There are many benefits to a smoothie a day, especially when first making the transition to a healthier lifestyle and diet. 

Benefits of Healthy Smoothies
1. More nutrition packed in a smaller package.   We're talking size and calories here.  Research tells us we should be getting up to 2 cups of fruit per day and up to 3 cups of vegetables - but the majority of Americans (more than 65%) are not getting the recommended servings. Most fruits & vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. Adding a smoothie made with 2 cups of vegetables and a handful of green leafy greens tastes good and gives you added nutrients that you need and (probably) are not getting. 
2. More time for family and important-to-you tasks. As I mentioned above, creating a smoothies takes very little time when compared to making a full meal and has relatively little clean up. All you really need is a blender. This frees you up to spend time on other important things without sacrificing your health (and most likely improving it). 
3. Improved digestion. The food has already been broken down, which means less work for your digestive system to do later. Good-bye upset belly, gas and indigestion, hello happy tummy (and happy me!).
4. Increased energy & focus. You'll be giving your body (and brain) the vitamins and minerals that it needs, in the freshest way possible. This will help eliminate the foggy feeling and shoudl eliminate blood sugar spikes that often accompany processed and fast foods that are often filled with sugars, sodium and other fillers. 
5. Weight loss. Because fruits and veggies are lower in calories and higher in dietary fiber than most foods, a smoothie will help keep you fuller, longer and often with less calories.  This may also, in turn, keep you from reaching for that mid-afternoon snack. 
6.  Healthier immune system.  Flu season is here and fruits are packed with Vitamin C, which is essential for the growth and repair of all body tissues. Ditch the supplement and get your vit C the natural way! 

5 steps to a healthy smoothie (in under 5 minutes)
(bulleted points are examples only & my favorites, experiment with what you enjoy! - and share if you find a recipe you like!)
Step 1: Pick your liquid (10 - 12 oz.) - I choose water, but if you'd like something a little denser go for UNSWEETENED:
  • Almond Milk
  • Soy Milk
  • Coconut Milk
Step 2: Throw in a handful of greens (I love the pre-package Simple Truth Brand at Kroger)
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Power Green Mix
Step 3: Choose 1-2 cups of fruit (fresh or frozen) .. the combinations and varieties are endless
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Banana (I peel & cut these in 1/4s before freezing)
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
Step 4: Add some extras (as much or as little as you want, but watch the calorie count with these)
  • 1 serving protein powder
  • 1-2 TBSP peanut butter (try the PB2 I mentioned here)
  • 1 TBSP ground flax or chia seeds
  • 2 TBSP avocado (sprinkle the leftover with fresh lemon juice and save the rest to have as a snack or with dinner!)
  • 1 TBSP raw, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 TBSP vanilla, peppermint or any other all natural extract (not artificial)
  • 2 TBSP unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 TBSP walnuts or almonds
Step 5:  Blend it all together!  You can even add some ice if desired. 
Tip:  When making a smoothie for later, I use a mason jar for easy transport.
If you'd like to add something a little sweet to your smoothie, add an optional Step 6: 
  • 1 packet or tsp Stevia
  • 1 tsp raw honey or raw agave
  • 2-3 medjool dates

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