Thursday, March 7

Adventures in nutrition: Spinach smoothies 101

I told a few friends on Facebook that I was blending spinach into my smoothies, and they wanted details... So here we are! Details!

My stomach is yelling at me for a bad lunch choice, so I'm not running tonight... Instead, I'll blog one of my favorite spinach drinks for you. :)

My very best friend bought me the little blender you see pictured below for Christmas. The cup disconnects from the blender base and is a handy travel mug of sorts, even though it has yet to venture much farther than my living room... It's small, easy to clean, and blends up a storm when I command it. I've been able to crush ice, frozen fruits and veggies, and every other softer entity (yogurt, fruits, etc.), so it's really a great little addition to my kitchen. It's certainly prompted me to be more creative... because until a few months ago I definitely wouldn't have considered drinking spinach.

Begin with a clean blender and all of your supplies!

I start with about 1/4 cup of water in the blender with any drink. Otherwise things tend to get stuck down by the blades and don't move.

I bought a gigantic bag of spinach and I've only eaten it in liquid form... :) What's nice about that is if the spinach gets a little limp, it doesn't matter at all. If it's clean and edible, it blends.

It's quite reasonable to ask "How much?" when puréeing spinach the first time.

I had no clue. I just grabbed some and pushed it into the cup.

I've found that roughly 3/4 cup (or one hearty fistful) works really well in this size blender. If your blender is larger and you want to blend more, I say go for it! My blender cup measures up to 14 oz. on the side... but clearly there is room to go well over that. I could probably jam more spinach in there... But I'll leave that for another day.

Today's smoothie was made with the fistful of spinach in the photo on the left. (Also, enjoy my snazzy nail polish. Haha!)

Again, to help with visuals, here (to the left) is that spinach, along with the water, in my blender.

And here (to the right) is what that looks like all blended up!

Not really appetizing, I know. But it will be!

For today's smoothie, I'm putting a too-ripe banana to use. I am one of those folks who prefers her bananas to have some green on the peel... If it gets too ripe, I can't eat it straight. It's a compulsion. I have to find something else to do with it. Banana split, on cereal, in yogurt, or in a smoothie.

When I add fruit to my smoothie, I do it in chunks. For the banana, I added half first, blended, then added the other half. In between, I added a little splash of orange juice. Why? I like orange juice.

Personally, I like to add my *taste* fruit/veg (the things I want to *taste* over the spinach and other base ingredients) before I add yogurt, ice, or anything else to thicken the mix. That way, I can see the consistency and freestyle a little more or less, depending on the circumstances.

Okay, so this probably sounds too complex for a smoothie, but bear with me. It's for your good! (No, seriously... it is. These smoothies are good for you!)

Next up is yogurt! Today I have low-fat vanilla yogurt. (I bought this at Aldi's. For those of you who shop there and aren't sure about their yogurt: both plain and vanilla are delicious and worth the bargain price.)

I always freestyle this part, sooo if I had to estimate how much I use, I would say about 1/4 cup of yogurt. This changes if you're using ice, though; I would most likely swap out the ice for the yogurt, to be honest. I don't like to pack the darn thing too tight... I'm not adding ice today.

But I AM adding chia seeds! These are so small you barely notice them (like blending flaxseed, which I also use from time to time), but they add so much nutrition and you don't really need to use a lot! (If you're still stuck on Chia Pets, read this.)

Seriously, I paid like $8 for this bag of seeds (photo to the right; Bob's Red Mill) and for the amount of nutrition I get from each 1-2 tablespoons I add to my smoothies, it's like I bought a bag of gold!

Okay, so everything is all blended together! VoilĂ : spinach smoothie.

1/4 cup water
3/4 cup spinach
1 banana (blended in two halves)
1 splash (ha!) orange juice
1/4 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons chia seeds

Does it taste like spinach? No. It tastes like banana. :)

Last week, I made one with frozen strawberries. It was green and tasted like strawberries. It screws with your head a little--it's like ordering a Sprite and when you take a sip it's just the seltzer water. It catches you off guard at first... But it is delicious. I promise you won't regret blending your spinach!

I have a difficult time with food sometimes, like not having an appetite, which I am working on (especially since I need to fuel properly in order to run; I did see a dietician a few weeks ago). But getting things into a drinkable form makes food seem more do-able sometimes. Actually, usually once I blend up some veggies and drink it down, I want something else... so it helps me in a couple of ways, I think. :)

Have you tried blending anything that's a little unorthodox? Spinach? Other veggies? Tell me!

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