After the positive response I had to my recent article on Healthy Breakfasts, I thought I would explore a little further and give you some inspiration for a really healthy (breakfast) smoothie. These green smoothies may look strange but they leave you feeling SO glowingly healthy inside and out you won’t mind! They are a great way of getting in the veggies without even noticing it, and with a little work you will even get your kids enjoying them too. The main proviso being you do need a high powered blender of some description to deal with green veggies like kale and broccoli in your smoothie. There are many different types of high power blenders on the market these days, with prices ranging from about €120 right up to €600. My baby, a Vitamix “borrowed” from my sister, does come in towards the high end, but The Magic Bullet gets good reviews and is a more reasonable price at about €94-135. So if you are stuck for what to ask Santa for...
My focus for breakfast these days is to make something that is quick and easy, tastes good, and is really full of vitamins minerals and fats to keep me going through the entire morning. I want my energy to last. I don’t want to feel starving by 11am (which was a problem when I was eating toast for breakfast) and I want to boost my immune system to fend off the winter bugs. I love toast, but I think on days I am working especially I really need more that simply carbs in the morning. A Super Porridge (see last month’s recipe) is another good option, but these smoothies can make a healthy and tasty alternative breakfast.
The first step is to find a good source of fresh organic greens - different types of kale are good, spinach is good, and broccoli can also be used. If you have a garden this is of course much easier and smoothies are a great way of using up excess winter greens.
Next you need to stock up on some smoothie essentials. If you are trying to reduce dairy, then some nut milk, coconut or almond for example, is good for thinning out your smoothie. You also want some coconut oil or MCT (the concentrated form of coconut) oil. I often put some Bee Pollen in (do buy organic as pollen from non-organic flowers will certainly have pesticide residues). I like to add in some protein powder; your local healthfood shop will have a selection but I like the Life Powder by Terranova because it has a huge range of different foods in it. A cheaper alternative would be one of the Pulsin powders; Pea Protein perhaps. And finally I like to put in some seaweed; you can use a powdered seaweed but if you have a nice blender then you can rehydrate some Irish Kombu (one strip in a small amount of boiling water for 5 minutes or so) and pop it in; I often put the water in too so as not to waste the nutrients that come out in the soaking process.
The fresh ingredients include a banana, a ripe avocado. The avocado, as well as being full of vitamin E makes your smoothie lovely and creamy and thick and the banana adds a nice sweet background.
My blender has a large jug, and I am making a smoothie for 2 people. I start with a packed half jug of greens, kale or spinach most mornings. Then I add an avocado. Then about a medium glass of milk, coconut milk is my preference. Then a ripe banana. Then the goodies - a heaped tablespoon of coconut oil (or 4 teaspoons of MCT oil); a tablespoon of Bee Pollen, a measure of Protein Powder, the kombu and the water, and blend. I blend on the highest speed possible for a few minutes to make sure the greens and seaweed are properly broken down. I then taste it and check consistency; mine aren’t too sweet but if necessary you can always put in a second banana. In the summer you might like to put in other fruit such as ripe nectarines or peaches also. I add a little more liquid if necessary at this stage also.
Variations: some days I add in some frozen organico berries - a good handful of blueberries or raspberries are lovely. I leave the smoothie to sit a little those mornings to let the berries thaw. Fresh berries would also be nice, but in the off-season it’s more affordable to buy organic ones from the freezer. Passion fruit also make a delicious addition; as do mango and pineapple. You can also add in a little lemon juice if you have made it too sweet. And if you have one throw in an orange - especially if you need to keep the smoothie for someone as the vitamin C helps to preserve the other nutrients.
Other vegetables to experiment with include broccoli and carrots both of which can be blended into a smoothie; you can use herbs but be cautions with amounts and also make sure to blend for a while as herby bits don't taste great!
Toppings: I really like to put a topping on my smoothies and eat it with a spoon so I generally make it quite thick.I find this give me the sensation of eating a breakfast which seems to help psychologically. I like the toppings by Superlife, and Irish company making Superfood toppings for breakfast that include chia seeds, goji berries, mulberries, cacao nib and lots of other goodies and taste great (a bit chocolatey!). Obviously this also adds to the nutritional bottom line.
This smoothes breakfast is low carb; quite high fat (good fats of course!) and very high in nutrients and fibre (the kale of course is a nutritional powerhouse, as is the seaweed). It’s a good way to get started on your 7 portions of fruit and veg a day. It can also make a good afternoon snack and is a good way to eat healthily if you have a job that involves driving as you can make it up at take it with you. Try it out and let me know what you think!