Sunday, April 14, 2013

Don't fear the Green Smoothie

Smoothies and fresh juices have been popular beverages to help you get in your daily servings of fruits and veggies and I can see why! They are delicious, nutritious and pretty quick to make. Recipe ideas and concoction combinations are endless and please, feel free to use your imagination to come up with your own unique smoothie.

I recently purchased a large bag (1.5 lbs. to be exact) of organic baby kale on my last Costco run. Kale is an amazing superfood high in vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin C. A nice, inviting smoothie recipe on the back of the bag has been grabbing my attention for the last week and I decided to give it a try after my refrigerator was replenished with fresh fruits and veggies with yesterday’s Bountiful Basket delivery.
Organic Baby Kale!

I veganized the above recipe.

I adapted my Berry Green Smoothie to fit with what I have in my fridge and to be dairy-free & vegan-friendly – It turned out to be pretty tasty. Now, you could probably drink the entire smoothie in one serving, but I broke mine up into two servings because this makes a generous amount of healthy greens, berries, fresh fruit and almond milk all blended together into one tasty package. There’s also something about drinking a smoothie out of a Mason jar that makes it feel more fun.

I often freeze my ripe bananas to use in “banana soft serve” or just to eat the slices as a ready healthy frozen treat with almond milk or mixed with granola and other fresh fruit. I froze some of my fresh blackberries and Murcott oranges for the smoothie to add in antioxidants, Vitamin C and fresh flavors. Freezing your own fruit can be a money-saving way to have fresh foods on hand and ready to use. I set aside a few of the frozen blackberries to top the smoothie with along with a generous spoonful of chia seeds, which add in more fiber and omega-3 fatty acids! The Berry Green Smoothie really is a meal in a jar!

Now, this isn’t my first attempt at making smoothies, but I’ve admittedly tried and failed a few times when adding in greens, like spinach to my fruity smoothie concoctions. Those worries will be cleared up in no time once you read through Kathy Patalsky’s smoothie tips! She gives you 20 tips to blend like a pro. I can't wait to check out her new book, "365 Vegan Smoothies," that's set to come out later this year!

I used her recommended procedure in tip #4 and added my liquid and frozen fruits to the blender first and did some pre-blending of those ingredients. Next came the baby kale and spinach along with some more almond milk to get the mixture moving in my blender. Did you know spinach is high in iron! I blended these ingredients for a good two minutes to make sure the leafy greens were broken down really well. As per Kathy’s recommendation, I threw in the fresh ingredients last with my chunks of Asian pear and cucumber, with the seeds removed. I gave the blender another whirl for about 30 seconds, poured the smoothie into two mason jars. I reserved one for the fridge and drank the other one topped with a generous spoonful of chia seeds and my freshly frozen blackberries.

This smoothie ends up being a funky indigo/blue/slightly green color when it’s all mixed up and ready to drink and I honestly could barely taste the baby kale and spinach! I’ve seen some photos of bright green smoothies and juices and they can look a little scary, especially when you’re supposed to drink them. But, this recipe put an end to my lingering fear of the green concoctions. I bet you could trick a few friends into getting more greens in their diets if you gave them a sample of this smoothie. It was slightly sweet and fresh tasting without being overly sweet, which I thought was another plus!

Berry Green Smoothie

• 1 to 1 ½ cup unsweetened plain almond milk
• 1 medium banana, peeled, sliced into chunks and frozen
• 1 cup frozen blackberries, reserve a few to garnish the top of your smoothie.
• 2 Murcott oranges, peeled, divided into segments and frozen (You can use tangerines, fresh mandarin oranges or cuties too.)
• 1 handful baby kale
• 1 handful fresh spinach

• 1/4 of an Asian Pear (Or use fresh pear or apple slices if you don’t have an Asian pear on hand.)
• half of a small cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into chunks
• a generous spoonful of chia seeds to top the smoothie

- Add the almond milk and frozen blackberries, Murcott orange segments and banana chunks to a blender and blend until the mixture starts to smooth out.
- Add the baby kale and spinach to the blender and blend for about two minutes until everything is smooth. Add more almond milk 1/4 cup at a time if the smoothie mixture is too thick (It helps to push the greens down toward the bottom of the blender so they mix with the liquid and blend up easier.)
- Throw in the fresh ingredients, like the Asian pear and cucumber chunks, last and give the blender another whirl for about 30 seconds until everything is nice and combined.
- Pour into a mug, jar or pint glass, top with a generous spoonful of chia seeds and a few more frozen blackberries and enjoy!

I like to sip mine with a straw!

Mason jars are more fun.

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