One of the key lifestyle changes I have made that is helping me stick with a “less processed” eating plan is the regular use of smoothies as an “initial breakfast” in the morning. A smoothie is now a go-to breakfast for me about six days a week (Sundays through Fridays. On Saturday I tend to have a “regular” breakfast.) It’s especially easy to stick with this habit when the smoothie is already made and good-to-go in the refrigerator, and I thought it might help you to learn a way to build a super healthy breakfast that you can grab and down pretty quickly!
There are so many smoothie recipes out there, that it can be overwhelming to select and keep track of recipes to use, and make sure I have all the needed ingredients. So I’ve found that rather than try a bunch of different recipes, it’s easier for me to make three smoothies at a time, using the “Seven Layer” method.
I fill my blender with seven layers of healthy ingredients, blend, and save in pint size jars in the fridge. (I have a special cap that I can put on when I take the jar out in the morning. It has an opening for a straw.) This means I must make smoothies about two times a week. I may do this in the morning, drinking one right away and saving the other two, or in an evening, getting them ready for the next three mornings.
Here are the seven layers that guide me in the process, and at least three suggested ingredients for each. I use what I have on hand, so the smoothies can taste different each time. I haven’t found that to be a problem.
Layer 1: Fruit
I include fresh and frozen fruit, and often use berries because they are so full of goodness. I grab a handful or two of frozen fruit (a full cup for those who like measurements) and throw that in first. This allows the hardest items to be closest to the blade, and begin to defrost as you gather the other items. I top this off with a piece of fresh fruit like a banana, an apple, or an orange…whatever may be on hand.
Suggestions: berries, banana, apple, dates or figs (for sweetness—use sparingly), pineapple, mangos
Layer 2: Vegetables
I’m trying to incorporate two vegetables, one of which is always some sort of greens. I grab a handful of whatever greens I have available, which can include spinach, mixed greens, and/or kale. Then I may add another vegetable such as cut herbs from my herb garden, or even tomatoes or leftover vegetables such as squash. (You can add just about any vegetable you want, just be aware that some have stronger tastes like kale, broccoli, or onion.)
Suggestions: mixed greens, spinach, shredded carrot, sliced or chopped tomatoes, herbs, avocado, leftover cooked squash or sweet potato or exotic veggies like kombu or seaweed, if you are brave!
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”
[biblegateway passage=”Genesis 1:29″]
Layer 3: Supplement Powders
I add a scoop of a protein powder and three-day’s worth of scoops of my chosen vitamin powder as well as a fiber powder. Sometimes I’ll add some sort of powdered greens.
Suggestions: protein powder, vitamin powder, spirulina, nutritional yeast, powdered greens
Layer 4: seeds, grains, nuts
I throw in a combination of items like these to pack in some more nutrition.
Suggestions: hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats, pre-cooked grains like quinoa (small amount), mixed nuts.
These add a bit of flavor and sometimes, an extra nutritional punch.
Suggestions: dash of cinnamon or ginger, a dollop of local honey, a squirt of agave or some cacao nibs or cacao powder, shaved coconut
Layer 6- Thickener
To give the smoothie some substance, I add ingredients that would thicken it.
Suggestions: almond, sun or natural peanut butter, tahini, Greek yogurt, a spoonful of coconut oil
Layer 7 – Liquid
This is critical and I tend to add it as the last ingredient because it will help all the other items blend. I add enough so that when my ingredients are blended, the blender will be full to within one inch of the top. This fills three approximately pint-sized jars. There are several liquids you can use. I almost always use some sort of milk along with either plain or coconut water. I like to add some kefir also, for extra probiotic benefit.
Suggestions: almond, coconut, soy, or from-the-farm cow’s milk; coconut or plain water, unsweetened juice (watch sugar contents of juices), kefir, crushed ice. (Crushed ice is nice if you are going to be drinking one of the smoothies right away.)
There’s nearly an endless variety of healthy ingredients you can add to a smoothie. By following guidelines such as “Seven Layers” instead of specific recipes, I still get a tasty treat packed with lots of healthy ingredients to start my day, plus I use up leftovers.
Note: some tastes are acquired, particularly if you are trying to eat more “whole” foods. If you are just starting out with smoothies, start with basic ingredients that don’t have as strong of a taste, then slowly try some of other fruits/vegetables that you may not be sure you’d like at first. For example, try the following substitutions when first starting out. Don’t get discouraged by trying to force yourself to drink something you don’t enjoy!
Instead of kale, use spinach.
Instead of avocado, use sweet potato.
Instead of sugar, add some local honey.
Use chocolate flavored protein powders or cacao nibs to help cover the flavor of stronger veggies.
Instead of tart berries, use strawberries, banana or apple as your main fruit.
As always, you are responsible for your food intake. Check with your doctor or a trained nutritionist if you are going to try something you aren’t sure about. Pay attention to any reactions and stay away from anything you might even think could cause a reaction should you have sensitivities (i.e. nuts.) Better to be safe!
[Tweet “Forget the recipes. Try a 7-Layer Smoothie with Ingredients You Have on Hand”]
Question: What types of ingredients do you like to add to smoothies?
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