Breakfast

Creamy carrot apple & avocado smoothie

We are beginning to see the grass in our front yard! This is proof that spring will come eventually – now if only the temperature would go above 35! Hubs and I have been working on house projects this past week to get ready for warmer weather, when we will inevitably rather be outside enjoying the sunshine, rather than inside watching Netflix marathons of Gilmore Girls (actually that’s just me) and packing bags of old clothes to donate to goodwill (also, just me). Ever since we moved in I have been wanting to renovate our guest bedroom closet, so we began to tear down the shelving this weekend and I will try to get new shelves up and ready soon. My secret plan is to turn it into a reading nook, which is a childhood dream of mine.

We have been so busy with projects that smoothies have been a great way to have a nutritious meal without a great fuss. I decided to try something new – avocado smoothies. I see them all the time on the internet, but I had not yet tried one. All the recipes I found online seem to play off the creaminess of the avocado - which is actually a fruit - yet none seemed like anything I would actually make. I consider avocados green gold – the price may be high, but they are one of my absolute favorite foods in the world* and are a super source of monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, potassium, folic acid and vitamin C! I did not want to waste my delicious green gold on something that I may not like. So I decided to create my own recipe using some of my favorite flavors.

In order to make a smoothie that did not taste like I was drinking salad dressing I added carrot juice, apple and agave to brighten up the flavor. The apple and the avocado make this smoothie super high in vitamin C, which helps boost immune system function. I then added some flax meal for even more fiber, healthy fats and protein, and to make it a filling beverage I used plain non-fat Greek yogurt. A dash of lemon juice gave it a crisp and bright flavor.

Give this creamy carrot apple avocado smoothie a try – even if you feel hesitant as I was, this is definitely going to open your eyes to a new way to any leftover “green gold” you have before it turns to mush. Do you have any avocado smoothie suggestions? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

*Trivia – avocados are one fruit I could not live without, and if I was stranded on a deserted island I would definitely wish for an avocado, then I would plant the pit and hopefully grow a tree to give me fresh avocados forever. Yup, that’s how much I love them!

Creamy Carrot Apple & AVOCADO Smoothie

5 min
Serves 1

Ingredients:
½ cup carrot juice
1/8 avocado
½ Granny Smith apple
½ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp flax meal
1 tsp agave
1 tsp lemon juice
3 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients in a blender and serve. 

Pineapple & Mango Lassi

Lassi merchant in India

Long before the smoothie there was the lassi. Originally from Punjab, India, the lassi is a refreshing drink best enjoyed during the long hot Indian summer days. It is traditionally a simple blend of yogurt, water, sugar (or salt), herbs and spices, and can be served along with food or had alone. Cumin, cardamom, turmeric and ginger are common spices used, while mint, mango, strawberries and other fruit pulp may also be blended in to add subtle sweetness to the otherwise tart drink.

My lassi recipe is a less sweet and slightly savory version than many of the lassis you might see on menus at Indian restaurants across the US. It has a savory flavor from the ginger and turmeric*, but is lightly sweetened by pineapple, mango and a dash of vanilla. I opted to use coconut milk here, as it imparts a tropical flavor, but water would be just as good a substitution. Ice cubes help to thicken the beverage up and keep it chilled.

Turmeric, when traditionally used in lassi recipes, is believed to help relieve stomach ailments in India and other Asian countries. Science is aiming to back up this claim: there have been some clinical trials that suggest this homeopathic remedy can improve digestion and reduce relapse of ulcerative colitis flares (1), among other pro-inflammatory diseases.

I hope you enjoy this lassi recipe, which has no added sugars and is packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and fiber!

*Ginger and turmeric may interfere with anticoagulants, such as warfarin, and increase risk of bleeding. Please discuss with your dietitian or doctor before using herbal supplements for any potential drug interactions.

Pineapple & Mango Lassi

Serves 2
5 min  

Ingredients:
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
½ cup pineapple
½ cup mango
½ cup coconut milk
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp turmeric
dash of vanilla
6 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients in a blender and serve. 

(1) Thavorn K, Mamdani MM, Straus SE. Efficacy of turmeric in the treatment of digestive disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol.Systematic Reviews. 2014;3:71. doi:10.1186/2046-4053-3-71.

TROPICAL GREEN ANTIOXIDANT SMOOTHIE

This week we have a Tropical Green Antioxidant Blast Smoothie. Greek Yogurt provides most of the protein in this smoothie, which packs 18 grams per serving. There is tons of fiber from fresh fruit and spinach, as well as chia seeds, which help reduce hunger. Chia is also high in calcium, phosphorus, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and increase brain function. Ginger and turmeric* have anti-inflammatory properties that can help ward off chronic diseases such as cancer, and heart disease, and can reduce symptoms of arthritis. Everything in this tropical green smoothie can start your day with a mega-dose of nutrition!

*Ginger and turmeric may interfere with anticoagulants, such as warfarin, and increase risk of bleeding. Please discuss with your dietitian or doctor before using herbal supplements for any potential drug interactions. 

Tropical Green Antioxidant Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup baby spinach
½ cup banana slices (approximately ½ medium banana)
½ cup pineapple chunks
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp turmeric 

Blend all ingredients together in a blender and serve

A MONTH OF HEALTHY SMOOTHIES: A FOOLPROOF FORMULA AND A RECIPE

I will always strive to achieve the goal of leisurely mornings before work. I would love nothing more than to wake up early enough to get a full workout in and read the newspaper. I truly believe that someday it will happen! But until then I will just have to do the best with what I can. Maybe I should start with not hitting snooze! :-P It has also been helpful to use a breakfast smoothie to help me speed up my morning routine. I found dozens of great recipes online, but what works best for me is a simple formula to mix things up.

Liquid Base + Protein + Fruit/Vegetable + Spices/Extras + Ice

My breakfast smoothie is a complete meal. It’s the ultimate “fast food” because it can be whipped up in an instant. I love a green veggie boost in my smoothie to add fiber and nutrients without a lot of additional calories. Frozen fruits are the easiest, as they are usually pre-cut and you can have a variety of them in your freezer ready to use. I always make sure to have a source of protein in my smoothies to keep me full throughout the morning. Protein powders are available everywhere these days in a variety of flavors. I use the Whole Foods 365 Everyday brand vanilla whey protein or Vega One French Vanilla. It’s fun to experiment with the extra spices and add-ins to the smoothie to really create a unique flavor. A dash of cinnamon or ginger goes a long way, and flax meal or chia seeds add healthy fats, fiber and make for a thicker textured smoothie.

When making a smoothie it’s important to remember that it is very easy for calories to add up when adding in multiple servings of fruit, nuts, seeds and sweeteners, and also from the liquid you choose to start with. If you are interested in controlling your weight consider omitting sweeteners, limit the amount of extras you use and stick with one ½ cup serving of fruit to blend in. A good protein powder will become handy if trying to control hunger and calories, as they usually are found in a variety of flavors, not just vanilla and chocolate, that can make a tasty shake without all the added ingredients. And remember fruit juice has a lot of natural sugars, so diluting juice with water will cut the calories while preserving the flavor of the juice. But feel free to use all the spices, herbs and greens your heart desires to make a deliciously filling and lower calorie breakfast smoothie!

Here are some of my favorite ingredients to use in the healthy smoothie formula: 


Liquid base (1 cup):
Skim milk
Unsweetened dairy-free milks (soy, almond, coconut, rice)
Fruit juice
Coconut water
Green tea (room temperature or iced)

Protein options:
Whey protein powder (1 or 2 scoops)
Plain Greek yogurt or kefir (1 cup)
Nut butter, peanut butter or PB2 (2 tbsp)

Fruits (½-1 cup):  
Banana
Mango
Melon
Frozen or fresh berries
Pineapple
Kiwi
Avocado

Vegetables (generous handful):
Baby spinach
Kale
Chard

Spices/Extras:
Oats
Chia seeds
Flax meal
Vanilla
Cocoa powder
Cinnamon
Ginger
Turmeric
Honey
Maple syrup
Mint
Matcha green tea powder

This month I will be mixing up different smoothies every week, so check back for the latest recipe every Sunday! 

Blueberry Ginger Steel Cut Oats

candiedginger

A lazy Saturday morning helped me come up with my new favorite oatmeal flavor combination. I was simply trying to figure out a way to use up the rest of my candied ginger when it dawned on me. The day before I had purchased two quarts of blueberries,and then all of a sudden this tasty and super healthy idea came together!

blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins (which impart the blue, red and purple pigment in berries). Antioxidants may reduce the risk for certain cancers, heart disease and other chronic diseases through their ability to prevent or slow the damage to cells during the aging process (read more about antioxidants at the National Cancer Institute website). Ginger is a root spice found in many cultures that has also been used for centuries as a medicine to relieve nausea or stomach aches. The almonds provide some added protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats. Last but not least, the oats are whole grain, which help lower cholesterol, are packed with minerals, antioxidants and can also aid in weight loss by keeping you satisfied well into your morning. (Check out the Whole Grains Council for more information about whole grains, why they are so good for you and even cooking tips for all the different kinds of grains).

ingredients

This recipe is slightly sweet, yet also a little savory, as the ginger still has some spice even though it’s been candied. It’s the perfect pairing for a cup of French-Press on the porch, or even when re-heated as a quick on-the-go breakfast at work. Enjoy!

 

Blueberry Ginger Steel Cut Oats
Serves 4-6      

The finished product with a little milk poured over it. Delicious!

The finished product with a little milk poured over it. Delicious!

Ingredients:
4 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup candied ginger, chopped finely
1 cup fresh blueberries
½ cup sliced almonds
optional: milk to pour on top

  1. Boil the water in a pot. Add the steel cut oats once the water is boiling and stir. Cook uncovered until the water is boiling again, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 min.
  2. Remove cooked oats from the heat and mix in brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the ginger, blueberries and almonds and mix in until distributed evenly in the oatmeal.
  3. Serve with a splash of milk on top, or add few extra blueberries or almond slices. If making for breakfasts at the beginning of the week, store in containers without milk on top, and then reheat as needed.   
Save leftover oats in jars to reheat throughout the week for a quick and easy breakfast.

Save leftover oats in jars to reheat throughout the week for a quick and easy breakfast.