Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pineapple Blueberry Ginger Green-ish Smoothie

Ever since I picked up my Vitamix, barely a day goes by without another experiment in deliciousness. I may have enjoyed the exact same smoothie twice, but if I did, it was never in a row and almost never on purpose. There are simply too many combinations to try and fall in love with!

However, many of my smoothies have some things in common. I prefer fruit-based smoothies (unless I'm feeling like chocolate!), and there are a few things I use very often.

Two of the standard ingredients I almost always use include:

Unsweetened Plain Almond Milk - I've tried fruit juices, coconut water, coconut milk, and even plain filtered tap water as the liquid base for my morning breakfast smoothies, but I always return to good old almond milk. It blends up well and doesn't add any distinctive flavor. Plus it's low carb for when I'm doing that kind of diet, has only 30 calories per serving (only water beats that!), contains some great vitamins and minerals (sorry, H2O!), and even has a gram of protein. Sometimes I add the vanilla flavored almond milk, but it's always the unsweetened variety. If I'm going to add a sweetener, I want to be in control of exactly what it is I add and how much.

Flax Seeds - These little gems keep things moving along on the inside and are so easy to incorporate into your diet, including in smoothies - plus they're super inexpensive, unlike some health foods. Some studies show that flax seeds can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke, but I like them for the high fiber content and plant-based Omega-3 fatty acids. Like unsweetened and unflavored almond milk, they add no flavor, but they do make the texture a little thicker, which adds to the rich creamy goodness. I buy them in a big package and then store in a freezer bag in my freezer so they stay fresh. A bonus is I feel better when I have them in my diet. I've also used chia seeds and hemp seeds and like those as well, but flax seeds are my almost daily go-to ingredient.

With my Vitamix, these tiny bits of "super food" get ripped up and fully incorporated so the end result in the smoothie is as smooth as can be. I've not tried blending flax seeds with any other blender, but if you end up with a gritty result or even whole seeds, get a better blender if you're going to be eating smoothies regularly.

A note about green smoothies: They may not be as good for you as you think if you're making the same mistake I was. Last year I began using a large handful of fresh spinach leaves every single day in my smoothies, which after a few months led to painful kidney stones (and two surgeries!) due to a compound called oxalate in the spinach. These days I use spinach in smoothies sparingly and only very occasionally, preferring now to add a tablespoon or two of a natural mint-flavored liquid chlorophyll, available online and at health food stores. It's a punch of the green goodness that doesn't add unnecessary compounds that can lead to disastrous results.

So for this morning's "green-ish" smoothie - I call it that because I used the liquid chlorophyll today, but with the addition of blueberries it was a definite purple rather than green - here's what I added to my Vitamix:

1 cup unsweetened plain flavored almond milk
1/4 of a fresh pineapple (peeled, with core in tact), chopped in big chunks
1/2 C frozen blueberries
2 Tablespoons flax seeds  
1 Tablespoon mint-flavored liquid chlorophyll
1" piece of fresh ginger

Toss all into your high-powered blender starting with the milk and blend on high for 1-2 minutes so all the ingredients are fully liquified, smooth and delicious.  Makes enough for one large serving or to share two smaller servings. Enjoy immediately!