Sunday, November 6, 2011
Before I went vegan, I didn't understand why so many people went nuts for smoothies. A simple Google of "vegan smoothies" will result in videos, images and recipes for more smoothies than you could imagine! And not just a wide variety of tastes, but a wide variety of colors and pronouncements of health. I sort of considered smoothies calorie dense sweet treats and didn't give them much thought. Why bother, when I was still eating icecream and frozen yogurt? Well, here's why you should bother (you knew it was coming!)...They take 5 minutes to make, they are super good for you and you can make them as thick as those Blizzards you enjoyed as a kid.
My daughter enjoys routine and each day after school looks forward to a snack that will fill her up, but also satisfy her hunger (and sweet tooth) until dinnertime. Often kids have after school activities that require a nice dose of protein to feel full. Knowing that I was interested in trying to make smoothies, my husband surprised me with a Ninja "Warrier" kitchen tool. I was a little skeptical that I would need something so odd sounding to make a smoothie (wasn't my blender good enough?), but I LOVE the thing because it's very powerful for crushing ice. Sure, the Vitamixer is the best of them all, but I'd never complain about my Ninja! Soon enough, I was making my daughter and I a smoothie every afternoon after school. Because the options are endless, we haven't grown tired of them! I kid you not, when I whip one up, it tastes like the best homemade icecream and is completely dairy free, with no added sugar. And after you eat it you don't feel bloated or tired. The image above is one of my typical blends, consisting of almond milk, ice, a frozen banana, a handful of berries and topped with granola. That's it! Are you more a chocolate person? Do you realize you can use unsweetened cocoa powder (yes, the baking cocoa powder from the market) and it adds all the chocolate flavor without any sugar? When I figured that out I felt like I had hit the lottery. Chocolate, peanut butter banana smoothie? OKAY!
Here are a few options we love:
Start with a few ice cubes (say, 4 or 5)
Use about a cup of non-dairy milk (we love unsweetened almond). More or less, you decide.
Add a frozen banana (peel them and THEN freeze them in a zip-lock bag...keep a stash on hand!)
Then, have fun: add some frozen or fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mangos, peaches)
Want it chocolatey? Add about 2 T cocoa powder (the unsweetened stuff). Chocolate goes best with raspberry, banana or strawberry.
Whirl it up and enjoy! We like ours really thick, but you can adjust to taste.
Want an extra dose of vitamins that the kids (and you) will NOT taste? Add a cup of baby spinach (fresh). It's especially yummy mixed with berries. We did this "Shrek" drink on Halloween, a simple blend of spinach, berries and almond milk. Sounds gross, but tastes great.
You can also jazz it up with a teaspoon of chia seeds or ground flax.
A lot of recipes call or a date or two thrown in for sweetness. I find mine sweet enough as is.
And last but not least, if you like a little crunch on top, add some granola (we love Bare Naked)! Later this week we'll film ourselves making one, so keep an eye out for a fun video!