I have to admit, as much as I love cooking, at just about any time of day, sometimes I don't do so well in the breakfast department. On mornings when I'm just trying to get out the door and perhaps the kitchen sink is still full of last night's dishes (and this is more often than not, as I'm not the most efficient dish washer), I've resorted to a number of poor choices. Everything from a piece of whatever I've baked last - sometimes this isn't completely terrible (bicottti) other times there's no hope (cupcakes, pie, cookies) - while some days I just try to fill up on coffee and maybe a spoonful of peanut butter. But continuous consumption of strong, black coffee on an empty stomach will do a number on your digestive tract.
OK, I'm exaggerating a little. I was on a consistent oatmeal run for awhile and on weekends I take the time for eggs or fresh fruit topped pancakes. But for the past couple of weeks or so my breakfasts have consisted of green smoothies.
Before you click away in disgust, bear with me for a minute, especially as I tell you that these fruit and vegetable filled beverages don't taste anything like spinach. Also of equal importance: they're filling, as in I can last until lunch without starving.
And unlike some mornings, these drinks provide a healthy source of energy to get me going for the day. If breakfast really is the most important meal, then it makes sense to start off with foods that are actually going to have some nutritional value to offer. It's also much easier to carry around a smoothie than a bowl or oatmeal, as I'm often walking or driving somewhere.
While a green smoothie isn't a revolutionary concept, I have enjoyed the enhanced version that Katherine Natalia calls a "green thickie" over at greenthickies.com. Personally, that doesn't sound like the most appetizing of names, so I'll just stick with smoothie. But you should really check out the many many smoothie combinations she has posted about, as well as other topics like making your own coconut milk and peanut butter.
Her base recipe - which contains spinach (or any other green you like), also includes grains, nuts/seeds, liquid, bananas and an optional sweetener like dates - is great. It results in a nice blend of flavors and complete proteins. You can then customize with whatever additional flavors you like, as the many suggestions on Natalia's site suggest.
I like that I can quickly make this either in the morning or the night before. The recipe makes two servings, which means I only need to pull out my immersion blender once every other day - saving half of the smoothie in the fridge for the next morning. If you're still using a traditional blender, that is fine, of course, but I certainly don't need an extra, multi-pieced dish to wash.
Before I share the recipe, a few thoughts:
- Frozen berries, if you choose to play around with the recipe, made this really watery. I'd suggest using fresh or well defrosted berries.
- Surprisingly, I like the taste of the smoothie better with quinoa than oats. I've noticed that quinoa also keeps me feeling full longer (perhaps because of the extra protein it contains).
- Another surprise: Romaine lettuce works really well. Though you miss out on some of the extra nutrients from the spinach. I'm betting kale would be nice too.
- Give dates a chance. I stocked up on dates awhile ago and then never got around to using them. They are excellent sweeteners, though, in baking as well.
- Stick with the two bananas. Any less, and the smoothie isn't all that thick. And I read once that the thicker a beverage is, the more it will tell your mind you're full. In other words, a thin smoothie may not fill you up as well.
- 2 cups water (or milk or dairy free milk like almond or coconut)
- 1 cup oats (or grain like quinoa)
- 2 cups greens
- 2 bananas
- 1/4 cup dates
- 1/4 cup seeds or nuts
Blend everything together and enjoy. Then check out greenthickies.com for more ideas. Let me know what you've tried and recommend. Also, check out this beet smoothie from our intern Maegan from last year.