Thank you for spending your time with me, smoothies and a garden full of awesomeness!
Smoothies….ahhh, smoothie love. Glasses full of Mother Nature’s goodness will help build and recover spent immune systems so your team can stay on it’s A game, improve digestion (weird but your intestines are super important when it comes to having a top notch immune system) and can even help with weight loss.
The first 3 steps are the same on any smoothie site you come across:
1. Buy a high powered blender….yes, you can choke and gag now at the thought of a $300 blender. A powerful blender is key because it grinds things up with even texture. Even tiny tomato seeds and raspberry seeds are obliterated. If you don’t have kids with texture/picky issues you could get away with the Ninja at $150 but it wouldn’t fly at our house. Here is a blender showdown of the Ninja, Blendtec and Vitamix from one of my favorite sites http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2014/08/08/video-vitamix-blendtec-ninja-best-blender/
2. Pack your freezer (and fridge) full of produce
3. Blend glasses full of goodness – If you are a rookie, start with the Baby Steps Blend – not to crazy but totally powerful nutrition and it won’t look or taste like liquid toilet (trust me we called them Scary Smoothies for a loooong time, you don’t want to start there). This blend will get your team so hooked they will think they are drinking a dessert treat EVERY night.
BABY STEPS BLEND
1 -2 cups frozen berries
2 cups spinach
½-1 frozen banana
3 carrot bullets or ½ a large carrot
2 broccoli flowerets (parboiled and cooled completely)
1 leaf red cabbage
Enough liquid to make the blender churn, around 1/2 cup grape juice and 1/2 cup water.
This will make about 3 cups when fully blended so that will help you gage servings up or down based on how many people you are blending for.
Choking price of the blender?
Play a little math game with me- “Healthy Family that rarely goes to the Dr Math.” You invest for retirement and maybe college savings for the kiddos, why not do it for your health?
Take our family of 5 - I'll give you access to our top secret HIPPA protected medical records. We go to the doc maybe 1- 2 times a year for all 3 kids and ourselves (well checks excluded because insurance covers those at no additional out of pocket cost).
We chose to have a high deductible heath care plan (almost $12,000 deductible---cough and gag!). Going to the pediatrician costs us $83 and a throat swab $20. Do that 3 times in a year for only one child and your blender has been paid for! Besides simply not spending money on health care you will LOVE that you don’t waste your time in a germ infested doctor’s office waiting to be told, “looks like it’s probably viral.” Kids don’t miss as much school and you don’t have to re-arrange your work schedule as much either!
Above is the fail proof BABY STEPS RECIPE that looks awesome, tastes outstanding and will help your body be the crazy awesome machine it was intended to be.
Once you are ready to move on from BABY STEPS, there are so many options!
Long and short of it….we blend 75% fruit and 25% veggies 5-6 night a week. In the past I’ve done a 50/50 blend and they are good enough to swallow but not look forward too. This past summer our garden did really well so I froze over 100 1-gallon bags of produce. Our fruit harvest was outstanding. That being said, I made a Mom CEO decision to switch to a 75% fruit/25% veggie ratio because we had so much delicious home grown fruit available. More fruit does make the smoothies tastier which gives us less static from the kiddos when it's time to drink them down.
WHAT TO BLEND AND WHY
Fruits - always use a banana –this is your secret weapon because it will mask (hide) the stronger veggie flavors. Berries, peaches, apricots, pineapple, apples, pear, mango, papaya….just grab the frozen bags at the grocery store until you can start freezing your own. Anything you use adds sweetness and tons of flavor. I love it when I can pick out the flavor of a raspberry or apricot in my glass of liquid love!
Veggies we use are kale, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes (technically a fruit but I’m calling them a veggie because it’s not something you would typically chuck into a smoothie), carrot, green or purple cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
CAUTION – DO NOT ADD RAW BROCCOLI OR CAULIFLOWER – you will have much gnashing and wailing of teeth! Raw cruciferous veggies are gross in smoothies even for grown-ups and that is not the point of making daily powerful smoothies. Parboil for 2 minutes and cool completly or those bad boys will completely overpower your smoothie making the entire thing taste like raw broccoli and raw cauliflower. Problem solved with the parboiling and cooling completly. Trust me, it's an absolute bummer to have your gorgeous, yummy berries taste like broccoli.
I use grape juice as our liquid but you could use water, almond milk, soy milk, apple juice….whatever your family loves. The bigger people in our family each get about an 8oz serving and our 6 year old gets 4 ounces. My blender is filled to the 8 cup mark of frozen or partially thawed stuff and it grinds down to about 5 cups.
If there is extra I put it in the fridge and chug it for breakfast the next day. It’s not awesome the next day, it mostly tastes like banana but it’s still a powerful superfood nonetheless. And it would personally kill me to just throw it out or compost it.
I set out our smoothie ingredients 2-3 hours before dinner. We don’t like our smoothies super cold AND they take the kids too long to drink. If there isn’t time for a 2 hour thaw don't freak out, it's no problem to use the microwave to soften fruit. Softer fruit also makes it so you need less liquid to blend the ingredients. I have found that less liquid leads to more flavor from the berries and other fruits we add.
In my blender I put ½ frozen banana, ¾ cup frozen raspberries, ¾ cup blackberries, 1 cup zucchini and 1 1/2 cups frozen chopped kale. Kale is a very strong flavored veggie….start out with spinach first and work your way up. If I have broccoli or cauliflower I only add a floret or two. On top of that layer I add a leaf of cabbage (usually red because of color camouflage---it's purple color is easy to blend so picky people don't realize it's even in there) and ½ raw carrot.
In a separate dish I have my orange things frozen from the summer…usually 5-7 apricots and 1 peach and 2 tomatoes (a variety called 4th of July that we grow and freeze– they are golf ball/tennis ball sized and are mild flavored). I separate these things because I usually microwave them for 1 ½ minutes to get them to thaw a bit more so we don’t get brain freeze. Again, it fills our blender to the 8 cup mark and grinds down to 5 cups.
WHAT IS SO AWESOME ABOUT PRODUCE?
Smoothies will boost your crew’s immune system because there is power in whole foods. Their power is a bit hidden in compounds called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are chemicals the plant produces to help combat UV radiation, pollution, disease and pests. It just so happens that they are incredibly powerful in our own bodies preventing disease and strengthening our own bodies. On a cellular level they strengthen each cell so there is less damage, oxidation and inflammation. When we get attacked by viruses and bacteria our bodies have an easier time defending against them because they are already strong on a most basic and primitive level.
WEIGHT LOSS? REALLY?
Any diet a person tries works until they quit doing it. Did a dietitian just say that? High protein, high fat no carbs? South Beach? Atkins? Seriously? WHY? Because any diet has you change your habits and routine and you immediately consume fewer calories. On ANY diet. Using smoothies is a different approach because it’s a long term approach. You can do smoothies for the rest of your life without buying a gross, expensive prepackaged foods full of ingredients revolving around the latest diet trend. Smoothies are trendy and popular these days but we have been doing them since 2011, 5-6 days a week, year round and believe firmly in their power. Smoothies help to incorporate more real, whole foods into your life making it sustainable for a lifetime not just a few weeks or months.
When you make a point to include more whole foods into your daily diet, they fill you up. Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water and fiber. Water and fiber are our friends. You can easily use a smoothie like this as a meal replacement. By using powerful super foods in place of highly processed crappy foods you set yourself up for success. You can also add a scoop or two of protein powder to your smoothie and use it as a whole foods meal replacement.
Join us in this adventure of taking back our health!