Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's a Smoothie Kinda Morning : Tips and Tricks

Almost every morning that I spend at home, I make myself a smoothie. I've never really documented the process, but I thought I might share a few tips with you...

When I'm not pregnant, I'm lactose-intolerant, so I used to skip any dairy elements in my smoothies. This pregnancy has made me able to drink milk and consume dairy products without any nasty consequences, which has been really exciting! While growing up, my dad worked on a dairy farm, so I had fresh cow's milk daily. My milk allergy developed a few years ago, after I started consuming pasteurized dairy products. Interesting, eh? I've been using yogurt regularly in my smoothies for those great little probiotics.

I like to start with a base of either orange juice or coconut milk. I've tried soy and almond milk in the past, but I'm only a fan when it's a combination of the two, not individually. Both have textures and flavours that I have to be in the mood for. During the summer, my coworkers and I would make a huge batch of smoothies and we blended soy milk and almond milk for the base. Delicious!

I then add whatever type of yogurt we have to my liquid base. Dan is the yogurt consumer in our house - I only have it in smoothies. He loves blueberry greek yogurt, so that's my typical choice, too. Once in a while, I'll splurge and buy some coconut greek yogurt for my smoothies, but not very often. Sage, our dog, always comes running when he hears me open the yogurt container. After I add several heaping spoonfuls to my smoothie, he has whatever's left on the spoon, hehe. Don't worry, it gets rinsed and washed right away :)

Since this past summer, I've been adding hemp protein and fibre powder to my smoothies. The bright green powder only has a slight taste (if you add in the perfect quantity) and it's easy to get used to. I used to add ground flax seed and/or wheat germ, but I've gotten out of the habit. Any extra source of added fibre that you can sneak into your diet is a plus in my books!

In the summer months, I love to purchase flats of fresh local berries and freeze them for the winter. Once I run out of my own stock of local berries, I purchase frozen bags of Canadian fruit from one of our favourite grocery stores. One local company offers a 1kg bag of Nova Scotian blueberries for a reasonable price, which is really handy. I like to watch the sales and stock up when the berries are a little cheaper. My favourite berries for smoothies are blueberries (yay for antioxidants!), raspberries, and strawberries.

I typically use a combination of fresh and frozen fruits. I'm not a huge fan of bananas, since they overwhelm all of the other flavours, but if we have bananas that are barely ripe in the house, I'll add half of one to my smoothie. I always like to check the fridge for any fruit that's not at it's prime - you can get away with slightly over-ripe fruits in liquid form more than while snacking. For example, this morning I spotted some grapes that we've been munching on for a couple of weeks. I added any plump ones to my smoothie and tossed the shrively-looking ones. I often add unsweetened applesauce (the individual portioned ones are perfect!) or a bit of fresh or canned pineapple if we have any leftovers. Also, when we have baby spinach in, I love to add a handful of leaves as well. You don't even notice the flavour unless you add too much, and then it tastes a little bit like dirt :)

Dan bought a Magic Bullet for me several years ago, and it's been going strong ever since. It's the perfect size for a smoothie for one, or if we're having a smoothie with our supper, I often split one with Dan. Last year, there was a bag filled with extra Bullet cups at the thrift store, so I purchased them to add to our collection. As long as you rinse your cup as soon as you finish your drink, they're easy to clean. Don't let them sit for any length of time though - the grooves can be a bugger to wash!

I hope that you found some handy smoothie making tips from my past experience. It's a quick and delicious way to get a healthy amount of fruit and veggies into your diet. If you add a cute straw, it helps, too :) Let me know if you have any smoothie tricks or favourite combinations. I'd love to hear from you!

Happy Wednesday!

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