Friday, March 7, 2014

Berry Spinach Smoothie

Do you follow me on Instagram? If not, you should! I love new followers and I always follow back! Anyway. If you do follow me, you've probably seen me post a photo or ten of my smoothies. Whether online or in real life, people are always asking me what I'm drinking! I drink 2-3 smoothies a day, so preparing and drinking a smoothie like this is a daily thing. Smoothies, such as this one, also helped me to finally kick my soda addiction for good. I've been soda free since New Year's and I definitely couldn't have done it without smoothies.


1 handful baby spinach, washed - fresh or frozen
5 vanilla ensure ice cubes - see link below for more info
10 blueberries - frozen
2 raspberries - frozen
2 blackberries - frozen
1 small banana - frozen
4-6 small strawberries - frozen
1 cup Cranberry Cherry Juice - 100% Juice, no sugar added

I spent a huge chunk of my life (almost 30 years) drinking way more soda than I'm happy to admit. All of that sugar finally caught up with me and my triglycerides were through the roof. While I eat a ton of healthy food, fruits, and veggies, my most unhealthy habit was all of the soda. It wasn't easy. I had to really power through the caffeine withdrawal headaches and resist the constant desire to nap. This is where the smoothies really and truly saved my life! It satisfies my craving for something sweet since it has natural sugar. The healthy ingredients and the ensure I add really give me an energy boost. I haven't felt this great in years. Seriously.

This healthy smoothie recipe is another version of my very first smoothie that I started drinking last year. It's basically the same but now includes some extra berries and spinach. Check out this link for info on how I prepare and freeze my Ensure. I buy all of my ingredients fresh from the grocery store. I also wash them thoroughly (except the bananas) and freeze them in freezer-safe plasticware or freezer-safe plastic bags. For strawberries, I always use 4-6 small strawberries or if the giant ones are on sale, two large ones. Speaking of which, I seriously stock up on strawberries when they're on sale. Two for $5 is okay, 2 for $3 is even better, but I will buy like 20 when they're 97 cents a package. Unless it's some kind of emergency, I really never pay $4 or more for one pkg of strawberries. I stockpile to avoid that.

The spinach I use is Simple Truth organic baby spinach. I usually get a pound for four dollars and change or less. I use about a handful in each smoothie and also make most of my salads with baby spinach, so this package really lasts me longer than I ever imagined. It comes prewashed, but I wash everything since there have been E coli issues with produce in the past. If it's approaching the expiration date, you can also freeze it. Fresh spinach will make your smoothie a tad bit runny while frozen spinach yields a thicker smoothie. For bananas, I use one small banana or half of a large one. The banana makes this beverage very smooth and helps balance out the spinach flavor. If a handful of spinach is too pungent-tasting for you, try adding an additional half of banana. The most important thing about this smoothie is the juice. Since some juices can have just as much if not more sugar than soda, I always make sure I get juice with no sugar added. Any sugar content should be naturally occurring sugar.

On a side note, I also gave up refined flours and similar evil white stuff. All brown, all the time now. This might seem like a death sentence, but I really love my new diet. I've always preferred darker, healthy breads, so that wasn't a drastic change for me. The big changes were switching to whole grain bagels, tortillas, and English muffins, whole grain pastas and rices, and whole grain waffles. If you're eating these items naked, then of course you might notice a difference in taste. While I don't hate any of these things, I can understand why someone might have a hard time with this dietary switch.

Cream cheese isn't something I should be eating either (BTW, working on lowering my cholesterol too). I could eat a bagel with cream cheese every day. In fact, I used to. Switching to whole grain and only having a bagel every now and then (and only rarely with cream cheese) has even helped me lose weight. Whole grain tortillas taste different when eaten plain, but when used in a wrap, I actually prefer them. Whole grain English muffins taste amazing when toasted and with a little peanut butter and jelly. I don't notice a huge difference when it comes to pasta since I've been eating it with sauce. My husband says he notices, but I think my husband has a heightened sense of taste and is definitely a picky eater either way. I have yet to try my favorite cold pasta salad recipes with the whole grain alternatives.

For waffles, like today, I completely skip the butter/maragarine and use just a little syrup. I've been happy with sweetening them up with fresh fruit. I like to throw a few on my waffles and nuke them in the microwave for 30 seconds. The blueberries get ooey-gooey and it tastes amazing.

I'm excited to experiment with new flours and ingredients to share some healthier ideas with you. I was really scared that this transition was going to, well, suck. But thankfully, it hasn't. I feel amazing, and I have so much energy. I can't complain about losing weight either (although I'm also exercising, so this isn't just from diet alone). Some days I splurge and have something I shouldn't-- because otherwise I might just lose my mind. Cheating every now and then has also helped me from derailing completely.

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