If you read my New Years resolution post, you know that I am working on incorporating healthy habits into my daily life. I like choosing habits that will lead to my desired lifestyle, rather than set temporary goals like loose 10 pounds, etc. For these changes to be sustainable, they must become habitual! The 2 healthy habits I've chosen to focus on in 2013 are: start practicing yoga regularly again, and start making my smoothies again each morning. Notice the word again in both. These are habits I practiced fabulously for about a year, but petered away once my daily schedule changed dramatically.
So, I am readopting them! My healthy eater conversion For a few months last year, I got on a huge food documentary kick. I have never been a terrible eater, but I was not a conscientious one. I didn't buy fresh fruit or veggies because they would inevitably go bad before I got around to using them. I also had never really learned how to cook-- my family's version of a home cooked meal was typically hamburger helper or sloppy joes, and in college I survived mostly on pb&j and captain crunch. So upon graduating college, and later getting married, I slowly began to learn to cook. My husband was actually the first to show me how to cook a chicken breast-- I was clueless! So from cereal and sandwiches, I graduated to spaghetti and lemon chicken. A good start.
One day, on a whim, my husband and I watched Food Inc. on Netflix, and our culinary world turned upside-down. Next it was Forks Over Knives, Ingredients, and a half dozen more. We began to realize and understand the corruption in the food industry and government food agencies, the dangerous effects of overly processed food, and the incredible need for lots and lots (and lots) of fresh, organic produce. If you haven't seen any of these, I strongly recommend them, they will blow your mind, enrage you, and inspire you. Why smoothies? After watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, we immediately went online in search of a juicer. However, most that we found were out of our budget at the time, so I decided to test my luck with our blender. I actually prefer the blended smoothies now because you are not throwing out mounds of pulp as you do with a juicer. Juicing is great because your body gets the most nutrients possible while doing the least amount of work to digest. A big, juicy steak has a ton of protein, right? But so do beans, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Now imagine the incredible amount of energy it takes your stomach to digest that steak rather than the small amount it takes to digest those legumes, and the miniscule amount it takes to digest juice! With juicing you get the most nutrients while doing the least amount of work, but you go through a lot of produce. If you are okay with that, then juice away! This recipe will work for juicers to, just omit the liquid. If you'd prefer your grocery bill to be quite a bit lower and still get a ton of awesome nutrients, let's blend!
Ingredients I have a 72 oz Ninja blender (that I love), so you may need to increase or decrease quantities to fit yours. When I started making smoothies, I used our super old/cheap blender, which worked fine too, I just had to let it blend longer. My daily smoothie changes based on what I have on hand, but here is my general daily recipe.
- 2-3 cups of juice (apple, orange, carrot, etc.)
- 4-8 cups leafy greens (I mostly use kale, spinach, and chard)
- 2 apples
- other fruit (banana, pear, berries, kiwi, whatever you prefer)
- hand full of raw sunflower seeds (flax and chai seeds are great too, you could also try different, unsalted nuts)
- 1/4-1" of peeled ginger root
- Put 2 cups of juice in the blender (I usually choose apple).
- I put a colander in the sink, then chop up the leafy greens and toss in the colander to rinse. I then fill up the blender with as much greens as can fit, then turn the blender on low, then medium, then high.
- While the blender is on high, I rinse the fruit in the colander and chop up what needs to be chopped (apples, pears, etc).
- Turn the blender off, then throw the fruit and seeds in. Blend on low, then medium, then high.
- While the blender is on high, I cut a hunk of ginger root and peel it. If you are not used to ginger root, start off with 1/4" and work your way up. Ginger root is a super food and it makes your smoothie nice and sweet no matter how many green things you put in it!
- Turn blender off, toss in the ginger root and add a little more juice, if needed.
- Let your blender run on high until it reaches your desired smoothness. Add more juice if necessary. I usually end up adding an extra cup of juice (so 3 cups altogether) and let the blender run for about 10 min (while it's going, I go get dressed and ready for the day).
- If you have an old/dinky blender (like mine was), add juice, then some leafy greens, then put some heavy fruit (a few apple chunks) on top to weigh down the greens for easier blending.
- When choosing juices, be sure to read the ingredients! You don't want juice with added sugar and other garbage. Choose 100% fruit juices. I usually put mostly apple and a little orange. I've used carrot juice before too; it still tasted good, but definitely had a stronger vegetable-y flavor. If you don't have any juice on hand, water will work too; It will be a little less flavorful, though.
- Play with different ingredients! Our body needs a wide variety of nutrients, so mix it up! Adopt as your mantra "eat the rainbow everyday"-- eat lots of different color fruits and veggies. Also, try different seeds and nuts to add vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential fatty acids. Try some wheat grass, gogi berries, or other superfoods.
- Go here to calculate the nutritional facts for your smoothie recipe.