Mar 16, 2015

3 smoothies (and variations) to help you start your day

Most of us are aware of the value of our health, especially those of us that are slightly more advanced in age. What isn't as obvious, is how to retain that health. There are so many thoughts on what a healthy diet should be these days, and a lot of them make sense in all the ways that we want them too.

I could go on at length about what I believe the fundamentals are of a healthy diet, but instead, I would like to focus on one thing that is most definitely an easy way to stay healthy.


Smoothies are an easy way to get all the nutrients that your body requires, or perhaps all the leafy greens that you are usually skipping with your normal meals. it is also the perfect way to start a day:
1) easy
2) fast
3) mobile
4) usually fruit based, but always raw, which is the perfect breakfast since it is easily digestible and will aid the body's quest to rid itself of toxins acquired through the night
5) quite delicious and easy to convince kids to try out as well

But most people are (understandably) reluctant to try out this wonderful method. So let's just assume that I have given you all the data and you now understand that it really fast and easy, because  (let's face it) the only way that you are going to understand how EASY / QUICK / HEALTHY / FAST / DELICIOUS it is, is if you try it out yourself.

What do you need?

First off, a blender. Can't make smoothies without a blender. To start out, use what you have. A hand blender will work for some softer fruits and veggies; A food processor might not make it as smooth or drinkable, so instead of making a smoothie per say, make a smoothie bowl (which you put in a bowl and eat like yoghurt rather than drink); a normal blender will work for soft to medium hard fruits and veggies, but you might need to cut your items into smaller bits (it should still work fine on nuts).
Once you have made smoothies a part of your daily ritual, or even if you are just having them once or twice a week, you might want to invest in something a little more fancy-pants.

Secondly, a variety of fruits and veggies. Preferably organic, but do what you can and can afford.

Lastly, add-ons of choice. These can be nuts, nutter butters, cacao powder, superfoods like chia seeds or macha powder. These are very personal. Often times these add-ons offer specific textures and tastes that you may like or dislike according to preference, as well as benefits that you will find your way to. They are very easy to experiment with once you find your way around the concept. For now, though, they are completely optional.

So now that you know what this project entails, here are 3 easy recipes to try out. They are very easy, and very easily adjustable. You want to keep your recipes fairly simple, so don't add too much to any ONE smoothie.

The recipes below have no added liquid. Add a 1/2 cup of water to the first 2 and try blending it. Add more water if your machine struggles. In the case of the last one, add the water only if you are not juicing the first set of ingredients.

1) strawberry milkshake

ingredients: bananas, dates, strawberries
how much of each? you ask. Well, it really does depend on how many people you are catering for. Try out these quantities for size, and when you get the hang of it, adjust according to taste and people: 2 bananas, 3 dates (medjool, if you are using pitted, then double that amount and if you are using a hand blender or processor, soak them before hand), 5 to 10 strawberries (depending on size)

leave strawberries and add nuts / nutter butters + raw cacao (makes a lovely toffee milkshake)
just leave the strawberries and add 2 more dates for something more caramel like
swap bstrawberries for any other berries
add chia seeds before you drink it
make a smoothie bowl by placing the smoothie into your favourite breakfast bowl, sprinkle with muesli, nuts, chia seeds and/or the like

2) fruit salad

ingredients: bananas, blueberry, kiwi, melon, mango, chia seeds (added before you intend to drink it)
quantity: this was really a recipe born out of a desire for a smoothie and an almost empty fridge, so leave out whatever you want and add what you would add to a normal fruit salad, I would say about half a cup of each and 2 bananas; sprinkle the chia seeds after you have done all your blending as they tend to congeal once fine.

add or remove any fruit
add some ginger or lemon juice for some extra tang
blend a whole small FROZEN lemon - cold, refreshing, and you get all the goodness of the lemon and its zest
add macharoot powder, hempseeds, or another superfood or green veggie powder
3) green juice

ingredients: cucumber, apple, celery (if you have a juicer, juice these ingredients first; if you don't just blend it all), ginger (either juiced or blended, blended is stronger but a bit stringy), green leafy something (add kale, spinach, baby spinach to blender along with juice and blend until smooth- sound like it is going to be awful right? trust me it won't), add some parsley for some serious VitC and other goodness
quantity? by now we should have established that I am not really a measuring kind of person, but in order to make it easier for you: 1 apple (2 if you have no cucumber), small cucumber (not the mini ones, more like half a normal cucumber), 3 sticks celery leaves and all (or cut the leaves and stalks off and add them to your leafy greens), slice of ginger as thick as you like it strong (about 2cm to start),  1 cup squashed leafy greens (although I usually measure mine as 2 big handfuls), stalk or 2 parsley (taste of this is a little strong so start out less rather than more)

add beetroot and/or carrots
add chia seeds before you drink it
add hempseeds to the blender stage
add avo to keep it green but make it more creamy

And there you have it. Easy peasy.

Some guidelines:
bananas and avo make everything creamy - you will taste banana surely, but not the avo
the liquid usually needs to be added for the blender to work, but machines may differ
if you have no banana add milk, nut milk if you are vegan
hempseeds have a slightly bitter taste, but stronger tastes (like ginger) will over power it

Some of these recipes and their options might sound a little off, but you will never know unless you try. At worst you hate it and throw it. At best, you have a new easy way to prepare breakfast or snack replacements that are healthy, filling, easy to digest as well as easy to swallow. And once you get the hang of these 3, there is really no end to the combinations you can try. There is also a wide range of smoothies that can be heated slightly, to make winters more bearable, but that's another post.

PS - if you have the ingredients, try celery and watermelon on summer's day. Most refreshing smoothie ever!
PPS - if you are interested in juicing, here are some great tips for that endeavour.

Happy juicing and blending, and may your days be healthier if you do.
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