3.13.13 Smooth the Way

Green smoothie 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
Smoothies have been one of several breakfast options for me for years, but it wasn't until recently that I started to have them every single day. And it has really made a difference. Somehow I am no longer stressing over what to eat in the morning, especially if I'm trying to get out of the house quickly. And I'm not worried about eating "too much," or too much of the wrong thing. I guess this makes me sound neurotic, but it's been life-enhancing so I wanted to share it with you. The smoothie is an opportunity to pack all sorts of nutrition into a drink that is light yet substantial, irresistibly creamy and smooth. We are hard-wired to crave something sweet and, rather than trying to reinforce some Draconian regimen of denial, I like to address that first thing in the morning. So will you, once you start your engines with a scintillating smoothie.
Protein powder 790 xxx
take a powder
I was inspired to start taking my smoothies more seriously by my pal Sara, of Seinberg Holistic Health Coaching, who has been documenting some pretty mouthwatering smoothie work. (Incidentally, she also conducts excellent online sessions, like her spring cleanse.) Between that, my new obsession with making non-dairy milks in my Vitamix, this post on vegan protein powder and this one on smoothies for grown-ups, I was launched into a new smoothie stratosphere. Bear these things in mind:

In order to be filling enough to get you through the morning, your smoothies need to be protein-rich.

Smoothies are not an opportunity to have a milkshake for breakfast.

Smoothies can hide a ton of ingredients you might not otherwise feel like eating.

Smoothies aren't just for breakast any more.

You don't need a Vitamix or any fancy equipment to make a good smoothie.
Chia seeds 790 xxx
chia seeds of change
As far as the protein goes, I am pretty enamored with this organic grass-fed whey protein powder. It comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors and a single scoop has 20 grams of protein. It's sweetened with stevia so it contains only 2 grams of sugar! I usually find stevia too bitter, but that is somehow disguised in the mix. As an alternative, or sometimes in combination with, I add some of my vegan protein powder that's made with omega-rich chia seeds, hemp hearts, ground almonds, cacao nibs and other healthy ingredients.
Hemp hearts 790 xxx
hearts' desire
If you haven't yet discovered hemp, you can read all about it here. Since it's full of oil, please look for a reliable resource when purchasing, like this online shop. (For other quality products like maca and virgin coconut oil, I recommend Raw Guru.) 

For the liquid component in your smoothies, experiment with everything from coconut water to non-dairy milks. Of course you can use cow or goat milks, or kefir or yogurt, too. I strongly encourage you to try making your own milks from nuts and seeds. They are truly a revelation. I have even made pumpkin seed milk and it's delicious. Here is an easy recipe to follow; here are some others. You can subsitute other nuts or seeds, scale up the quantities, and add flavorings like vanilla or cinnamon, if you like.
Strawberry smoothie 790 xxx
berry fine
To get a nice frothy consistency, add something frozen to your smoothie. It could simply be ice, though recently I saw a smart suggestion to use frozen cubes of coconut water. I generally like to peel a bunch of bananas, cut each one in half, then store them in wax baggies in the freezer. My smoothies often contain half a frozen banana, a handful of frozen berries, a cup of nut milk and or coconut water (or a combo), a scoop or more of whey protein powder and another of vegan protein powder. Other possible additions include:

aloe vera juice
a handful of greens
vegetable juices
bee pollen
dates
goji berries
ground flax seed
mesquite 
walnuts
flax seed oil
olive oil
spices
nut butter

Blend it up! I won't lie to you, my Vitamix is a joy. Maybe if you become a smoothie afficionado, you can justify the purchase. (It makes short work of purees and soups, too.) But in the meantime, haul out your blender and treat yourself to a frosty one. It'll be smooth sailing from here on out.
 

Vegan Protein Powder

makes scant 7 cups
  • — 1 cup cacao nibs
  • — 1 cup raw sesame seeds
  • — 1 cup chia seeds
  • — 1 cup hemp hearts
  • — 1 cup Billy's Infinity Greens (or other green powder)
  • — 1 cup almond meal
  • — 6 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • — 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • — 2 tablespoons maca powder

In a Vitamix or food processor, grind cacao nibs to a fine powder. Transfer to a large bowl. Next, grind sesame seeds, using short pulses and stopping before they release a lot of oil and start to clump. Add to cacao powder. Repeat in the same way with chia seeds and then hemp hearts. Stir these together with all remaining ingredients, sifting with your fingers to break up any lumps. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

Download recipe  Download Recipe
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11 Comments

Looks delicious ~ I love smoothies. But more exciting is the notion that you can make nut milks at home...? I started exploring non-dairy milks last summer but was left thoroughly uninspired by store bought varieties. I love the idea of a homemade version. Might have to put a Vitamix on my Christmas list.
Prairie on March 13, 2013 at 11:00 am — Reply
Prairie, the homemade milks far surpass the boxed versions in flavor, texture and nutrition. I made pecan milk today and love it!
laura on March 13, 2013 at 7:43 pm — Reply
Hi Laura -- I'm interested in the grass-fed whey protein but the link isn't getting me to it. Could you repost it? Thanks!
Peggy on March 13, 2013 at 11:39 am — Reply
Peggy, I put in a different link. Let me know if it doesn't work for you.
laura on March 13, 2013 at 7:43 pm — Reply
This post came just in time! I'm often in a hurry in the morning to start writing, and a smoothie sounds like the best solution. I'm a big fan of rice milk- have you tried making that at home?
amin Ahmad on March 14, 2013 at 12:14 am — Reply
Amin, I've made the Mexican beverage, horchata, which is essentially rice milk. Stay tuned for details...
laura on March 14, 2013 at 8:28 am — Reply
How much protein would be in a serving and what quantity would be considered a serving? Thanks!
Allison on May 31, 2013 at 10:31 am — Reply
Allison, I'm not really sure the precise amount of protein, but bearing in mind that there is some in the sesame, the almond, the chia, the hemp and even the green powder, I would say about 3 grams per tablespoon. You can adjust the serving size according to how much protein you need and whatever else is in your smoothie; I usually use about 3 tablespoons.
laura on May 31, 2013 at 10:42 am — Reply
Hi there - thank you for this! I'll be participating in Sara's spring cleanse too, how fun! Question re: vegan protein powder: Do you think I can use whole cacao beans and grind those up? I happen to have some that I want to use up, and figured that would be fine, but thought I'd ask. Thanks again for the great post!
Charleneq on March 22, 2014 at 9:50 am — Reply
Hey, fellow cleanser! If you mean roasted and hulled cacao beans then, yes, those would work just fine. "See" you soon!
laura on March 22, 2014 at 10:08 am — Reply
Yes, that's what I (think) mean - great, thank you! Yes - "see" you real soon. :)
Charlene on March 22, 2014 at 12:21 pm — Reply