January commercials are always so predictable: health clubs, weight loss products, pre-packaged foods masquerading as healthy choices. But when you take a look at those ingredient lists, sometimes you might as well have a donut. And while I’d rather eat a donut every morning, it just doesn’t stick with me for the most important meal of the day!
Hey, I’m certainly no health-food nut. Y’all know that. But I love a good smoothie in the morning. Nothing is more refreshing, filling, yet light, and makes you feel better than getting some sweet fruit in your body first thing in the morning. Energy, health, and tasty all in one glass. Grab a handful of toasted almonds or a slice of whole wheat toast, and you’re feeling good about yourself before 8 a.m.
So for today’s food friday, rather than focusing on one specific ingredient, we’ll give you a few tips to prepare your own smoothies each morning. With just a few pulses of the blender, and a few extra minutes, you can prepare a delicious breakfast, and be out the door on the go! That’s my kind of breakfast! (Or any meal!)
- Feel free to throw whatever ingredients you have on hand in your smoothie. Get creative! Mangoes, pineapple, melon, apricot, grapes… Try new combinations. Or, this is a great time to use up some of the fruit that’s getting near past it’s best. For example, if you’ve got a banana that’s a little soft for your tastes, throw it in. It’s a perfect sweet addition to smoothies.
- When I can’t find fresh berries in season, I stock up on bags of frozen berries. This eliminates the need to throw in a few ice cubes too, as they’re already cold, and it doesn’t water down your treat!
- I love to add a splash of milk, or even good yogurt into my smoothie. It thickens the mixture, and the calcium is especially good for us! In a pinch, I’ll use a bit of bottled juice in my smoothie, but juice is often high in sugar, so use with caution. We don’t want to cancel out the effects of our healthy energy with a sugar crash!
- I like a mixture of about 1 part fruit to 1 part liquid, but if you like the mixture a little thicker, decrease the liquid by a half. A perfectly proportioned smoothie is usually one cup mixed fruit, one cup milk, or other liquid. Play around, adding alternate servings of fruit and liquid until you get just the right thickness for your tastes. If you end up with a double portion on your first try, share with your spouse, kiddies, or roommates.
- If you need a little extra sweetness to your drink, try adding honey or maple syrup. Even a sprinkle of spice or vanilla extract can trick your taste buds without sugar.
- If you, like me, find it hard to get in your alloted servings of vegetables, this is a great time to throw in a handful of spinach, a small tomato or two, carrots, anything you like. The sweetness of the fruit will mask the veggie taste, and you’ve snuck in some greens without your body even knowing it!
- To get really creative, and reap some of the benefits of liquid antioxidants, throw some green tea or other variety into your smoothie (especially if you don’t like the taste of green tea, like me, but keep hearing about all the benefits). I’ve even known those who will throw in coffee, flax, coconut milk, soy, or tofu. Create your own smoothie bar by purchasing protein powder, vitamin C, or fiber to include.
- If you have one, use your blender instead of a food processor. It’s less messy, and blenders blend more thoroughly.
- Always start your blender out on low, and increase to high.
- For a special treat, I like to place a fancy glass in the freezer, just before I start to blend. When I’m ready to pour, I’ve got a gorgeous and frosty chilled glass. Pretend it’s a milkshake, and enjoy!
Smoothies are a great way to try out fruits that aren’t usually in your icebox, so get creative. But here’s a recipe to get you started. Smoothies are so refreshing for the mornings, but especially as our days are a little shorter right now, I love pretending I’m on vacation, enjoying a luxurious drink.
Try this Tropical Twister! It should make two servings to share with someone!
Combine 1 small peeled and diced papaya, 1 medium banana, 1/3 cup orange slices, 3/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon lime juice and 4 or 5 ice cubes in a blender. Cover, and blend until smooth. Pour into that tall glass, and garnish with a sprinkle of coconut or a strawberry.