Smooth Operator

Part of my February goals for my happiness project includes having a smoothie for breakfast during the work week.  So far, it has been going pretty good.  I’ve posted some pictures on Instagram (yes, I’m that person who posts pictures of their food…) and have received lots of questions about the smoothie operation.  I’m sure there are lots of other ways to make them, but here’s what I’ve been doing…

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I went to the grocery store and bought a few essentials – blueberries, bananas, spinach, a fresh pineapple, frozen strawberries, and frozen pomegranate seeds. (Side note: Why didn’t anyone tell me that frozen pomegranate seeds existed?!?! I have been scraping them from those darn fruits for MONTHS, turning my hands and all my cutting boards bright red!)

I looked around online and found that most recipes included only a few ingredients. When I have done smoothies in the past, I crammed everything I could find down in them, but they never really tasted very good and so I hardly ever finished them. This time around, I’m going with the simple recipes and they are turning out much better.

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Mornings are a bit of a rush around here, and so any breakfast for me has to be quick and easy. And sometimes smoothies are neither. To streamline the process, I have made smoothie bags ahead of time. I bought quart-sized bags, and have prefilled them with everything it takes to make one smoothie.

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Then, I threw all my bags into my freezer. Be sure to lay them flat so that the ingredients don’t freeze into a big giant ball. Those are harder to blend.

In the mornings, I put about a cup (I think, I don’t measure) of strawberry Greek yogurt in the bottom of the blender, then I empty out the contents of the storage bags, and I blend away! I don’t have a fancy blender, either, so don’t worry that you need to go out and buy one. Although, I’ve heard smoothie blenders are the way to go, you can definitely get by without one. When things get a little stuck in my blender, I just add a little bit of milk. I’ve heard you can add almond milk and it is delicious. I also used to add a little orange juice instead of milk, and that’s pretty good, too. But I had milk this week, so milk it was.

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You can really throw anything in a blender to make a smoothie, and you’d be surprised what you can “hide” in your smoothie and never know the difference. I always have two big handfuls of baby spinach in mine, and sometimes I add kale, too. The spinach is perfect because it fills you up more and it’s really good for you. Plus, it has zero taste. None at all! The kale is not for the weak, though. It has a little bit of a bitter taste, and it adds some serious grit to your smoothie. But the health benefits can be worth it, if you can get used to it.

Here are the combinations I made for smoothies this week:

Spinach, blueberry, and banana
Spinach, blueberry, and pineapple
Spinach, blueberry, pomegranate, and pineapple,
Spinach, banana, and strawberry
Spinach, blueberry, banana, and strawberry

Need I go on? Just about any combination is good when you stick with the fruits and veggies you actually like. I have carrots pictured above, but I ended up not including those. I usually have carrots with my lunch, plus I didn’t want my smoothies to be too big.

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I wish I could claim this next step as my own brilliant brain child, but I can’t. Actually, it was a blog reader who suggested adding an Emergen-C packet to my smoothies. As a teacher and the parent of small, germy children, Emergen-C packets are always at our house. This also solved the problem of my daily vitamin. I now add a packet to my smoothie every morning instead of taking a vitamin. Brilliant!

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Another stroke of borrowed brilliance came from this website that I found on Pinterest. I actually got a ton of good info from this article. It’s great for a person just starting out in the smoothie world. She suggests that instead of having to wash your blender every day, you should just rinse it out immediately after use and then wash it only every other time. I am always looking for shortcuts like this. I added the step of storing the “unclean” blender pitcher in your fridge. I just feel like that will keep it cleaner than sitting on my counter? Not sure, really. But it seems like the right place in my weird science head.

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So, there you have it. Smoothies on the fly. A little planning and you can start your day off with a good dose of vitamins and minerals. All of which are essential to happiness…

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13 thoughts on “Smooth Operator

  1. Tammy

    I love smoothies. I add a scoop of protein powder and almond milk to my frozen fruit. Don’t worry about making the smoothie too big – I pour my leftover smoothie mix into popsicle molds! It makes a quick, healthy little snack.

  2. Rachel

    Yum! I was on a smoothie kick this summer and my fav “bulk” item was pineapple. It is so sweet that it makes anything else delicious, and it also makes it sweet enough I could use plain greek yogurt (less sugar) instead of flavored. My absolute fav was plain greek yogurt + pineapple + nectarine + spinach.

  3. You can grind up oatmeal to a powder and add that as well! It adds a little texture and makes the smoothie thicker (which I like so I drink it slower) and also holds you over pretty well! 🙂

  4. HeatherM

    If you plan on making smoothies a more permanent fixture in your routine, I would HIGHLY recommend investing in a hand blender/ immersion blender. It is so much less fuss and SO much easier to clean than a normal blender. It is also much smaller and easier to store and grab in a pinch than a full sized blender. I have the Kitchenaid 2-speed immersion blender ($39.99 on Amazon) and it works great on frozen fruit, though I’m sure you could find it cheaper on Amazon (or if there is a birthday/ Mothers Day/ etc coming up, that works too).
    Also, I would get a set of disposable cups and straws to keep handy. That way, when you are in a pinch and don’t have time to eat breakfast (or haven’t washed the grime out of your last reusable smoothie cup), you can still drink your smoothie in the car on the way to work. Yes, it’s not environmentally friendly, but it is still cheaper and healthier than a quick run through Starbucks or the like.
    I enjoy adding frozen peaches and mangos to my smoothies, but some of that is personal preference too.
    Happy smoothie making 🙂

  5. Amanda H

    I use a cup of apple juice as my base and then defrost my smoothie mixes in the microwave for 20 – 30 seconds. It helps it all blend up better. Also to clean it, I rinse the bulk of it out, add a bit of dish soap and water, turn it on for a bit and then rinse out the soap. Its seemed to work and is easy.

  6. Janet

    About once a week I add one tablespoon of mini chocolate chips to my strawberry smoothie. For the anti-oxidants. Yeah.

  7. Rachel

    I second the cleaning the blender with water & a few drops of dish soap, best idea I ever found on the internet, lol.

  8. Sarah P Liz

    I use mason jars to prep my smoothies (greens on top so they don’t wilt). Then I poor the smoothie back in the same mason jar and screw the lid on and run out the door. I have straws in my car 😉 Then you don’t waste baggies or have to wash them, because that’s just an aggravation I could stand to do without.

    Also, try one with mint, strawberry and cucumber, along with your greens. Its very refreshing! I use coconut water or canned lite coconut milk for the bases of my smoothies.

  9. Lauren G

    My favorite smoothie combo is spinach, pineapple, banana, and green grapes. All it needs is a little water to blend more easily and it is the prettiest bright green color!

  10. Mary

    While you’ll probably never need to go back to fresh pomegranate seeds, if you do decide you want fresh, you can avoid the staining by peeling it under water. I usually cut it in quarters, then fill a big bowl about halfway w/ cold water and then deseed the pomegranate under there. The water helps keep the seeds from popping and eliminates any staining even when they do. As a bonus, the white pith floats and the seeds sink, so you can skim the pith out before draining the seeds and you won’t have to pick it out later!

  11. Alice B

    I second the immersion blender recommendation! I swear by that thing – it’s my “desert island” kitchen tool (as if desert islands have electricity!)… I prep wide-mouthed mason jars with my smoothie ingredients and store them in the fridge. Then I just blend right in the jar, pop on one of these lids: http://www.cuppow.com/collections/wide-mouth-product/products/original-cuppow-wide-with-straw-tek (or grab a reusable straw) and go! The immersion blender is super easy to clean and once you own one, you’ll find all kinds of uses for it.

  12. Gerda

    I use a Magic Bullet for my daily smoothie – so much easier than a big clunky blender! Also like to use plain yogurt and a spoonful of orange juice concentrate for sweetener, if it needs it. My favourite fruit is dark sweet cherries, frozen from Costco. No extra sugar, add a teeny little splash of whipping cream and it tastes like dessert!

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