Green Smoothie Ideas

IMG_4287I’ll save the health lecture this time. We all have heard about these mysterious, lean, mean, and green forms of liquid that are associated with “superfood,” “cleansing,” “glowing,” “energy,” etc.  There is in fact a lot of science behind what makes these drinks so nutrient-filled and good for your system.  Doesn’t it make sense that our bodies would appreciate the break from having to work and break down all the crappy food we hurriedly chew and scarf down? Liquid calories chock-full of healthy goodness that cover all the bases of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and the right kind of fats can be absorbed more efficiently. (Oops, health lecture). I happen to love green smoothies and try to incorporate them into my regular lifestyle at least a couple times a week. It really is a great way to boost up that daily fruit and veggie count goal that seems somewhat impossible to reach.  I make them different every time deepening on my taste buds that day and what I’ve got hanging around that needs to be eaten. They’re perfect for an on-the-go breakfast, other meal replacement (if you make sure to include enough calories of carbs, protein, fats), or a pre/post-workout boost. If you’re skeptical, I PROMISE you will not know there’s spinach in there if  you just close your eyes and ignore the color.  I have tried other greens such as kale, but to be honest I don’t know if you could get away with sneaking that into a picky critic’s drink. Feel free to experiment with different greens and decide what you can honestly enjoy drinking versus trying to finish a glass of something you’d be fine going the rest of your life without having again.  (Keep in mind depending on ingredients, a green smoothie might not turn out “green.” Don’t be afraid if it’s an odd color. Like I said, just ignore whatever color it is and drink up!) If you make them right, I guarantee you one day you will actually CRAVE green smoothies.  If you’re still completely against the idea, these are great without the “green,” too! Here are some of my concoctions that always turn out great:

PB Banana Mocha

1 cup unsweetened (original or vanilla) almond milk

1 frozen banana (if not frozen, just add a few ice cubes)

2 T PB2 powder

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1-2 t instant coffee granules

1-2 t cocoa powder

1/2 T ground flax

1-3 cups fresh spinach (I use a small personal blender so I fill it to the top)

Truvia to taste

Tropical 

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 frozen banana

1/2 c frozen peaches

1/2 cup frozen pineapple

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 t almond butter

Spinach (again, LOTS)

dash of vanilla

Truvia to taste

Optional – 1-2 T coconut flakes

Berry Blend

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 cup frozen mixed berries

1/2 T flax

Fresh spinach

Dash of vanilla

Truvia to taste

Optional: to make creamier – add a couple T of plain greek yogurt. For added tartness – a squeeze of lemon juice

Chocolate Strawberry Banana

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 frozen banana

1/2 c strawberries

1 T cocoa powder

Fresh spinach

Dash of vanilla

Truvia to taste

Advertisements

BBQ Sweet Potato Chip Nachos

Call me crazy, but these three glorious things good on their own came together as one incredible unit of major flavor that can still be enjoyed guilt-free.  This was one of those nights when I didn’t really have a real meal prepped or even thought up in advance, and it was already getting pretty late.  I knew I wanted to watch the NBA finals game, so of course my mind and cravings went straight to sports-related unhealthy snacking food perfect for vegging out on the couch. After looking in every cabinet and fridge drawer, I somehow managed to put this concoction together in my mind and immediately ran with it.  I’ve been having a recent obsession with combining two of my favorite flavors – sweet potato and BBQ – and it never turns out bad. Why not eat an entire plate’s worth of sweet potato chips (but just from one medium potato), top it with some tasty vegetables and cheese, and call it dinner?

Ingredients

1 small/medium sweet potato

1 T olive oil

Spices of choice to taste for chips (I did S&P, cumin, garlic powder, Adobo blend, truvia)

1/2 small onion, sliced thin or chopped

1/2 bell pepper, chopped (any color)

1/3 c chopped red cabbage

1/2 oz shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar

1/2 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella

1/2 oz reduced fat feta crumbles

1-2 T BBQ sauce

1 green onion, chopped

Handful of chopped fresh cilantro

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 (I started here and ended up turning down to 400 towards the end to try to keep them from burning too quickly). After washing potatoes, slice uniformly with a mandolin on almost the thinnest setting.  You want them to crisp up but be able to hold the toppings. Rinse with water to remove some of the starch and dry thoroughly.  Place potatoes in a gallon ziploc and add 1/2 T olive oil.  Close and shake the bag to coat evenly.  Add spices and shake again.  Spread out onto one or two sprayed baking pans in a single layer and bake for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on them and flipping halfway.  Heat the other 1/2 T oil in a skillet over low/medium heat.  Add onion and seasonings (I did same as chip flavorings) and let caramelize a few minutes.  Add peppers and cook another couple of minutes.  Finally add the cabbage right at the end just to soften it a bit.  In a microwavable bowl, add all the cooked veggies, BBQ sauce, and mix of cheeses.  Microwave on high 30-45 seconds or until cheese is melted and BBQ sauce is warm.  Arrange the sweet potato chips on a plate (yes, ALL those are for you) and top with cheesy BBQ veggie mixture.  Top with fresh green onions and cilantro and sit down to a seemingly unhealthy, “snack-y” meal full of chips and cheese that’s actually good for you! After all, the sweet potato has been deemed “the perfect food.” Don’t feel bad for eating nachos for dinner because in reality it’s tons of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats!

P.S. You might need a fork 🙂

After

After

Before

Before

Snacks for Success

I’m a big fan of snacking.  I was always that girl in school with the lunch box or backpack full of countless Ziplocs of healthy snacks to fuel those never-ending days of volleyball away games or night band practices.  You would not find me spending money at the concession stand or vending machine (since when are nachos a good pre-game fuel anyway?) buying an after-school “snack” that had more than enough calories to count as a meal but lacked any kind of balanced nutrition. To this day, I usually throw something quick together in the morning before I head out, so I’m never without a healthy nosh for in between cycling class, chemistry lab, or long hours at the library. Snacking the right way is so important to keep your metabolism humming throughout the day instead of overloading your system only two or three times a day to feel bloated and full then sluggish and hungry.  Eating smaller amounts every 3-4 hours will keep energy levels up, your brain happier and functioning at its peak with fresh glucose, and you won’t have to endure the desperate stomach growls nagging with unhealthy cravings.  If you are into counting calories, I’ve found it’s best to try to keep your snacks around 150-250 calories (keep in mind your level of workouts and if additional protein or carbs are important to you).  This will keep you satisfied and give you energy to last until a meal a couple hours later.  It’s also good to think about a balance of protein, carbs, and fats in your snacks just like you would for meals.  Whenever you can, focus your snack around a fruit or vegetable to amp up your daily count.  I thought I’d give you some snacking inspiration and make a list of some of my go-to foods.

Sweet 

Apple or banana with 1 T nut butter

Smoothie with milk (I use unsweetened almond) and frozen fruit (plus any other healthy add-ins you want)

Smart Pop popcorn 100 calorie mini bag kettle corn with cinnamon and 1 T dark chocolate chips

1/2 c nonfat plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a few chopped walnuts

1 orange with 1/2 serving cocoa roast almonds (Emerald brand)

Salty

Carrots and broccoli and any flavored hummus

1 piece of toast with mashed avocado and dash of Siracha or salsa (if you need more calories top with a fried egg or egg whites- SO good)

6 Triscuits (recently obsessed with the new sweet potato/onion flavor) and light string cheese or Laughing Cow cheese

1 serving Blue Diamond Habenero BBQ almonds (another new obsession)

Smart Pop popcorn 100 calorie mini bag butter flavor with a sprinkle of parmesan and italian herbs

1 small corn or wheat flour tortilla filled with avocado, sharp cheddar, and salsa