Back in the day when I was commuting to my first job out of college, I stopped for a smoothie on the way. I lived in the East Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago and had to take the “L” all the way to the last neighborhood bordering Evanston. In other words, it was a pretty decent hike. For some reason, I also dealt with nausea every single morning and a smoothie was the only thing that would help. No, I wasn’t pregnant but it sure felt like morning sickness had somehow infiltrated my body. Since then, smoothies are my go-to whenever I’m not feeling like eating or when it’s too hot. They’re not overwhelming like a plate of eggs and toast can be and generally the lightest meal with the most fuel.
As an adult, my smoothie game has improved from regular stops at Jamba Juice to whipping them up at home. My wallet is thankful too, that’s for sure. Especially in the summer months, it’s not rare for me to swap a meal for a smoothie. Normally I’ll trade breakfast but some days I’ll trade lunch instead. Another way my smoothie game has improved is through ingredients. I don’t use any extra sweeteners including flavored yogurt. All you’ll find in my smoothies are fruit, veggies, plain greek yogurt and milk. Occasionally, I’ll add a nut butter - almost always peanut butter - and sometimes cocoa powder but that’s it. Fruit is naturally sweet enough. It’s not necessary to add sugar or syrups or even vanilla yogurt. If you want a dessert smoothie, make a dessert smoothie but the kind that I’m talking about are meant to fill you and avoid a sugar crash.
For those of you who reject the idea of adding greens to smoothies, give it a shot. I wasn’t keen on the idea either when I started making them at home but it’s nowhere as bad as you think it will be. The kale may as well not even exist! If the fruit included is lighter in color, the smoothie might turn out green but with berries as the star ingredient, you get a pinkish-purple hue that’s so pretty. Even if the smoothie does turn out green, the kale flavor simply isn’t there. And if you disagree? Add more fruit! By creating a wider gap in the fruit to green ratio, you’re also diluting the flavor of the kale. I usually like to stick around 1.5 fruit to 1 veggie. Here’s the bottom line: it’s an easy way to get a serving of veggies in and kale is packed with fiber, vitamins and iron.
Here's another tip. Freeze greek yogurt in ice trays and store them for quick smoothies. It makes portioning out the yogurt super easy and mess-free and it makes the smoothie extra thick. The yogurt will last long frozen versus refrigerated and you can store in bulk. You could also freeze the greens if you want to buy them in bulk and store them without spoiling. Everything is getting blended so it's alright if the greens get a little crumbly. Fresh fruit is certainly a great idea but I use frozen because it stores easy, it's year-round instead of seasonal and it keeps the smoothie thick. Do you have a favorite smoothie ingredient combo?
Triple Berry Kale Smoothie
1 cup Milk (of your choice, I used lactose-free)
1 cup Kale (or if you prefer, spinach)
¼ cup (or 2 frozen cubes) plain Greek Yogurt
½ cup each frozen Blueberries, Raspberries & Blackberries (you can also use the frozen mixed berries from the freezer section, just make sure to use a total of 1.5 cups)
Pour all of your ingredients into a blender in this order: milk, kale, yogurt, berries. Blend until smooth. You may need to pause a few times to scrape down the sides and loosen the ingredients at the bottom. If the mixture is too thick, add a splash of milk at a time to loosen. Serve once blended.