For the past year or more, I have started my day with this green smoothie. It is easy to eat on a just-woken-up stomach, nutritious, filling, and very tasty. It sets me up to have a strong and productive day, free from the distraction of a growling belly. On the days I don’t have this smoothie, I end up ravenously snacking by mid-morning, feeling out of sorts and not very satiated. Turns out there is a bit of science behind why I find this such a satisfying breakfast: there is research that indicates that the thickness of a beverage impacts how full someone feels, more so than calorie content. So make your smoothie thick and you’ll feel full longer!
If you are new to the smoothie scene, the wonderful thing about them are the endless possibilities. I happen to be a creature of habit, and since I found one that really works for me, I stick to my one favorite recipe. By using a simple, basic structure, you can experiment with different ingredients to find your favorite mix. The basic ingredients of the endless possibility smoothie are:
– Green vegetable, ~1 cup loosely packed
– Fruit, ~1.5 cups
– Protein, 4-5 heaping tablespoons
– Liquid to mix, ~1 cup
For the green veggie, spinach, kale, and watercress are my staples, but there are other options as well (beet greens, chard, collards as examples). Spinach has a pretty mild flavor in smoothies and is probably the best one to start with, while kale and watercress have very distinct flavors that shine through. I would imagine beet greens would also have a distinct flavor, whereas chard might be more subtle.
The trick, I think, to this smoothie is the balance between fruit and protein. The fruit adds fiber, an essential part of what makes this smoothie so long-lasting, as well as the sweetness. My preferred fruits are apple and banana—to me these fruits have a mild sweetness that adds just the right level of sweet. I am trying to consume less sugar after all. Some people might not find it quite sweet enough. Frozen mango, peach, or pineapple chunks would be alternatives that pack a little more sweetness in their punch. Strawberries, blueberries, or cherries might be somewhere in between. I personally think banana is an essential component of any smoothie—it adds texture as well as sweetness—so we stock up on a ridiculous number of bananas every week.
The protein is the other essential part of this smoothie. I like to put real protein in my smoothie in the form of greek yogurt and/or nut butter. I also like these proteins because they happen to have fat in them too. I like fat—fat, in the right forms and quantities, is essential for our bodies to function. I also find that the full-fat yogurt and almond or peanut butter I put in these smoothies make this a meal that sustains by body well into lunch – after the fiber has been digested my body still has the fat to keep it going.
Your blender will need a little bit of liquid to put all these ingredients together. I use straight up water, sometimes with some ice if it’s a hot day. You could also use milk to create a creamier smoothie (cow, almond, soy, etc depending on your diet and preference – or experiment to find the one you like best in smoothies). I find the yogurt adds all the creaminess I need but there was a good stretch when I put a little vanilla almond milk in my smoothies. My husband likes to put orange juice in his smoothies. This adds more sugar which some people may enjoy :). Again, there are a lot of options depending on your flavor preferences.
Some people like to include other ingredients to their smoothie. Some things to consider as you become a smoothie master: chia, dates, oats, lemon juice, cinnamon.
Everyday Green Smoothie
1 cup water or other liquid
½ cup ice
1 cup kale
1 medium apple
2 heaping tbs full-fat greek yogurt
2 heaping tbs peanut or almond butter
1 medium ripe banana
Place ingredients in blender – I add one ingredient at a time with the blender running to ensure a smooth mix. Adjust as needed depending on your blender. Pour and enjoy!