12 May 2010

Perfect Breakfast Smoothie

Smoothies are pretty much the perfect breakfast. Chock full of vitamins, minerals, and really well balanced with all your major nutrients (fat, carbs, protein) so it's incredibly satisfying. My husband was the total cereal guy in college. I was the no-time-for-breakfast girl. Then we bought the Magic Bullet (yes, the goofy-infomercial-personal-blender). Once we got it, we were making smoothies literally every morning.

The transformation was literally overnight. One day we realized we had a couple of several-month old boxes of cereal we hadn't touched since we started with the smoothies. Plus, since smoothies are infinitely portable and only take 5 minutes to blend, I started eating breakfast on a daily basis. So now, after years of trial and error, I'm going to share with you our formula for a perfect smoothie: smooth (duh), creamy, lightly sweet without being cloying, and just enough substance to get you through several hours. Plus, it's good for you!

The best way to make smoothies (in my humble opinion) is in a Magic Bullet (or other personal blender). I've got several reasons for this (besides the fact that the Magic Bullet is awesome – I miss mine out here in Germany!):

1. You can easily control your portions. In a blender, even if you use the measurement lines, you always end up a little over or a little under (for me it's pretty much just over).

2. The Bullet has mugs you can blend in directly (i.e. quick cleanup – very important if your mornings are hectic). Plus, they're dishwasher safe. Score!

3. I find they tend to blend more smoothly. Even with my super awesome KitchenAid blender, I tend to get a few chunks with such a fairly small volume, and I am a smooth-smoothie kind of gal. My hubs just eats the lumps (I think he likes them actually), but I have some weird aversion to lumps in my smoothie. But give me lumpy mashed potatoes any day!

Here's what you need: (if you want to skip my explanations, just scroll to the bottom for the short version, just don't blame me if your smoothie comes out weird because you changed something vitally important, like leaving out the banana without a proper substitute!):

Frozen fruit: Make sure it is unsweetened. We'll be adding some subtle sweetness; added corn sweetener is unnecessary, and honestly, not so great for you. Plus, with the frozen stuff, it was picked much closer to ripeness than the fresh usually is, meaning it's naturally sweeter than most of the fresh fruit in the store. Another great option (especially now, during strawberry season) is to stock up on what's in season, wash and cut it (strawberries can be kept whole, just take off the green top) and freeze it yourself. It will keep for quite a long time, longer without freezer-burn if you've vacuum sealed it. (I like the “smoothie mix” they sell at the supermarket – mango, pineapple, and strawberry. It's even better if you add some peaches. My hubby prefers mixed berry, I just can't do the raspberry seeds).

Whole milk plain yogurt: Yes, whole milk yogurt. The more fat you remove from your dairy, the more nutrients you lose. And once you remove the fat, it kind of defeats the point – there's a lot more to dairy than just the calcium. We use plain in order to control the amount of added sweeteners in our smoothies.

Banana: One, unfrozen. The banana is primarily for texture so riper is better, and sweeter. You could also use a quarter to half of an avocado instead – adds flavor (great with tropical fruits like papaya and mango), and amazing silky texture, but go easy on it if you've never tried it before. If you're out of bananas and avocado, mango works too (even frozen). Without the textural ingredients, your smoothie will be more of an “ice-ie.”

Juice: I like apple or pear. White grape or even peach work too, but sometime aren't as neutral in flavor. Make sure it's 100% not-from-concentrate juice, unsweetened, and organic if possible. Mott's makes a great conventional apple juice; Whole Foods carries really nice organic, unfiltered apple juice.

Good ol' H2O: The juice is purely for sweetening; the water adds the liquid needed for a proper blending.

Optional: Add a teaspoon of melted coconut oil (it's solid at room temp, so you'll have to melt it, a few seconds in the microwave works). I know it sounds crazy, but I'll be explaining the benefits of medium-chain fatty acids in a coming post. Plus, it tastes really awesome.

Optional: honey (sometimes good if your fruit isn't as sweet, or your banana isn't very ripe)

Here's what you do:

Grab your mug.

Assuming it's appx 16 fl.oz., fill it up about 1/3 to halfway with your frozen fruit (about a cup). Next, break up your banana and place in the mug on top of your fruit. This should come just about to the top of your fill line – you may need to squish the banana down a little. (My hubby swears the opposite works better – banana THEN fruit, but he's crazy, so...)

Next, add about ¼ cup of your yogurt (more if you like).

Take your juice and fill about half of the empty space left in the mug (maybe ½ cup). Continue filling to your fill line with water. This is a great time to add your honey and/or coconut oil. Add the honey before now and it will mostly just stick to the side of the cup. Add your coconut oil (if using) just before you blend; if it sits too long in the cold liquid, it will re-harden, and trust me, it won't blend in that way. It will just stick to the blender blade.

Screw on your blender blade and blend as long as you like.

Remove the blade, stick a straw in, and relax knowing you probably won't be hungry for another 3-4 hours (at least that's how long it lasts for me – it's the protein, plus that dairy fat balancing out your carbs. It's like magic, way more effective than cereal).

SHORT VERSION (short, sweet, and boring):

Here's what you need:

1 cup frozen fruit of your choice
1 unfrozen banana (or ¼ avocado)
¼ cup whole milk plain yogurt
1/3 cup juice (apple, pear, grape, or other white juice)
Optional: 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp coconut oil, melted

Here's what you do:

Fill your mug in this order: fruit, banana, yogurt, juice. Top off with water. Add your honey and/or coconut oil if using.

Blend and enjoy.

(if interested in trying the Magic Bullet, check it out on Amazon.com)

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