Monday, August 20, 2018

My Summer of Smoothies

After having been on the renovation meal plan for over two months, I wanted to get back to healthier eating and was perusing meal ideas at the grocery store, so when I saw some smoothie mixes in the freezer section, I bought several to try.  I've had a lot of fun playing around with different smoothie combinations all summer long and have finally come up with a good blend that keeps me full for hours.

First I started out with bags of smoothie fruit mixes - just fruit, nothing else - and blended them with water:
The mix on the right had some butternut squash as one of the ingredients; I didn't notice it at all.  However, there was one mix that had carrots in it, and that was a no for me - the carrot taste overwhelmed the fruit.  I had a couple bags of this mix so I even tried it again after a few weeks but nope.  I'm not Bugs Bunny and don't like carrot smoothies!
Yes they are two servings, but only two 8 oz servings, so I made the entire bag for my breakfast.  Even with the highest calorie mix, the smoothie was only 220 calories.  These were good, but I definitely was ready for another meal within a few hours.
I had this protein drink on hand, so added it to the mix instead of water, hoping that the extra protein would help keep me fuller longer.
Here's about 280 calories of yum - adding the vanilla protein drink helped, and the smoothie was creamier, but I was still more than ready for lunch when I had this for breakfast.

In July I was in North Carolina for three weeks, and once we got Sam's kitchen unpacked and set up, I bought a bag of fruit - with kale, oooh - to make a healthier breakfast in order to counteract all the BBQ we were eating for dinner.  I also got to use Sam's Ninja blender, which worked so much better than my old-school blender at home:
This combo was really good!
I miss those cool mornings on the screen porch in NC.

While it's true that the Wyman's Cherry Berry with Kale mix did have some very small pieces of kale in it, it wasn't much.  I was emboldened to add even more, so once I got home to Texas I bought a bag of chopped kale and froze it, as had been recommended by someone on Instagram.  I also bought some nonfat Greek yogurt to add protein and - truthfully - to hedge my bets and mask the taste of kale, just in case:
I love Fage Greek yogurt, but Chobani is usually at least 50 cents cheaper, so...
I mix a scoop of collagen powder with water, which is supposed to be good for my joints and skin, plus it adds 10 grams of protein and 40 calories.  Then I add about a cup of fruit (60 calories), and then several handfuls of kale, a container of yogurt, which adds 12 grams of protein and 120 calories, some water, and blend away!
Remembering the acai bowls that Barbara and I had last year, I added some granola to the blended smoothie, and that made it perfect.  Half a cup of granola is about 200 calories, but it adds some fat to the drink and I think that, plus the protein from the yogurt and collagen, is what keeps me satiated for hours.
This little bowl holds half a cup of granola - sometimes I sprinkle a little at a time on the top and spoon out the smoothie layer by layer, and sometimes I throw the entire amount in at once and drink it.  I love the crunchiness that it adds.

I bought a Ninja blender that I thought was identical to the one Sam has, but it's not, and it's incredibly loud - so loud that I have to plug my ears when I blend my smoothies.  I'm not happy about that, but I am really impressed with how easier it is to blend frozen fruit compared to using a regular blender.  Also, longtime readers will note that I'm buying granola instead of making my own...mainly because I'm lazy, but also, it's too dang hot to turn on the oven.

I've been making my smoothies around 10:45 am, as my first meal of the day (a couple of cups of black coffee earlier in the morning makes me not hungry before then), and then I can go until dinnertime without being hungry.  It's just over 400 calories, it's really delicious, it's healthy, and I feel like I'm doing something good for my body, which makes me happy.

One last thing - if you make a smoothie using light-colored fruit and kale, it turns bright green:
Even as green as this was, I couldn't taste the kale!

Any other smoothie lovers out there?  Suggestions for different ingredients?  I'm open to a lot, but not spinach as I tried that many years ago when I was first blogging, and it was unpleasant - I do not like to drink spinach.  So I guess I'm neither Popeye nor Bugs Bunny, ha!

28 comments:

  1. I started having smoothies for breakfast after my diagnosis with RA. My son had already been drinking them--I started making them for him after he broke his leg. He talked me into drinking them myself. I've gotten quite creative and we don't use the pre-mixed fruit. I try to use what's in season, so right now it's a lot of peach based smoothies. This winter I plan on doing some posts sharing my smoothie recipes. I have a Ninja blender too. My old Osterizer couldn't handle it...

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    1. So if you are using in season fruit, does that mean not frozen? If so, are you adding ice to the smoothie? Looking forward to seeing your recipes!

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    2. Yes, I'll use ice if the fruit is fresh. Sometimes I'll use a mix of fresh and frozen. There's nothing better than the flavor of fresh fruit!

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  2. I've yet to try the kale thing, but for a meal replacement smoothie I copycat one I used to be able to buy at the gym I belonged to: 8 oz. unsweetened vanilla almond milk, scant 1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt, 2 scoops of brown rice protein powder, 1 T peanut butter, and 1 frozen banana cut into slices. Throw into Ninja and blend. It's definitely a meal replacement - comes out to 350 calories, 27 grams of protein and 12 grams of fat. I normally don't even like peanut butter, but I like this.

    Also I distinctly remember the nutritionist at the gym saying a meal replacement smoothie should have some fat, i.e., you can throw in avocado, flax seed, nut butters, etc. I think that makes all the difference if you're trying to concoct something that leaves you full until you need another meal vs. a snack.

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    1. Can you taste the brown rice protein powder? I tried some vegan pea protein power recently and never could get that taste masked.

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    2. I can't taste it, although I feel like every protein powder changes a smoothie, compared to one without. I buy it through Vitacost - Jarrow's Brown Rice Protein Powder. Maybe it's just a good one?

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    3. You might just have a good one! I'll have to look it up.

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  3. I find adding an apple and a dash of cinnamon to the carrot mix made all the difference!

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    1. Interesting - I bet the apple would be strong enough to kill that carrot flavor!

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  4. I like having a smoothie for lunch on my way to the gym. I used to use a cup of plain yogurt, but now I'm using my kefir. Its so weird, but it makes the smoothie thicker, and it has a kind of sparkling taste. I use frozen strawberries mostly, but occasionally frozen bananas. I think I tried kale a long time ago, and didn't like it. Now I use frozen fresh spinach. I can't taste the spinach. Its funny how different things taste different to different people. Its like cilantro, which I love, but I've heard that it tastes like soap to some people! Oh, I also put a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla into my smoothies. Sometimes I put one of my chicken's raw eggs into it, usually just the white. I used to have a protein blend that had some fat in it, chocolate mint. I would mix it with some ice and cold coffee--just like a frappuchino! I need to get some more of that stuff!

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    1. I like having a smoothie when I know I'll be going to the gym late in the afternoon - it doesn't make me too full to workout. Cinnamon and vanilla? Yum - I'll have to try that!

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  5. My favorite combos are probably mixed berries, banana and chocolate chips (add them at the end so they only get slightly chopped) and a tropical fruit mix (mango, pineapple, strawberries and I think peaches) with maraschino cherries AND cherry juice, and toasted coconut on top. We add walnuts or oatmeal to thicken them up, along with vanilla or chocolate protein powder. In the fall I do an apple pie one, which is oats, yogurt, walnuts, apples (microwave them with some cinnamon and sugar for a couple minutes), cinnamon and pie spice.

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    1. Drooling at cherry juice - I used to love Shirley Temple drinks as a kid because of that maraschino cherry juice! I'm intrigued by your apple pie smoothie and will try that one this fall for sure.

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  6. If you like avocados, they make the smoothie extra creamy and keep you full for a long time. I will typically throw whatever frozen fruit I have on hand (strawberries, blueberries, mango, bananas,) in with a small handful of spinach and some yogurt and avocado if I have it. If I don't have avocado, I'll do peanut butter. What kind of collagen powder are you using? I ran out and haven't replenished my stock, but I didn't really feel like it was helping me. Maybe a different brand would work for me.

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    1. Ooh, I've never heard of putting avocado in a smoothie! My collagen powder is Sports Research Collagen Peptides, unflavored. I haven't been great about using it every day, so I don't know if it could be helping me more, but I'll buy another tub when I'm finished with this one. :)

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    2. The collagen powder works great if you keep at it. I think it took me about weeks to realize I was getting benefits. I put a scoop in my plain black coffee every morning so it has become habit at this point.

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    3. That should say "six" weeks. lol

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  7. I use to feel the same way you do about carrots, but one day I went out to lunch with some friends and the restaurant was giving out complimentary carrot soup, which I thought would be awful, but I loved it! I don't go to the extent of putting it in my smoothies though. I do just the basic fruits like berries and bananas.

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    1. I don't mind roasted or steamed carrots with dinner, but raw carrots really overwhelmed the smoothie.

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  8. P.S. You made me feel better about buying commercial granola at Costco. Not as good as homemade, but it sure is easy :)

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    1. LOL, you're welcome! Sometimes, you just need easy. :)

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  9. Loving the smoothie ideas! I used to do smoothies a lot and then got out of the habit. I may have to restart!!!

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  10. Oh, avocado for smoothies is THE BEST! My recipe (and just like you, I have this at about 11am and then don't need anything until dinner, except for one coffee with some nuts and a small piece of dark chocolate):
    half avocado; 1 cup coconut milk beverage unsweetened; handful of fresh kale (never thought of freezing it, might do if there is danger that it goes bad); 1 Tbsp unsweetened dark chocolate powder; 1 small scoop collagen; 2 Tbsp hemp protein powder; 1 tsp psyllium husk powder; some stevia drops for a slightly sweet taste; maybe a half Tbsp of MCT oil. I add ice and my Blendtec makes a beautiful creamy smoothie out of this (no trace of Kale flakes). I absolutely love its light chocolate taste, it reminds me ever so slightly of a chocolate mousse/pudding.
    I don't put any fruit because I want to keep the sugars to a minimum.

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    1. I like to freeze the kale so my bag stays good for a couple of weeks. Interesting idea about adding the chocolate powder - is this just baking chocolate?

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  11. I forgot to add the half green banana that also goes into the smoothie.

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  12. Which Ninja blender does your son have? I've been thinking about getting one.

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    1. He has the Auto IQ Pro, with five buttons. For whatever reason, I ordered the 1000 watt Auto IQ - not pro - and it's insanely loud. It has four buttons. Don't get that one. :(

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