Smoothies

Good-for-You Green Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

With the start of a new year, and after the extra treats of the holiday season, I like to focus on filling my plate with more vegetable-packed meals. However, even while eating healthier, I do like indulgent-tasting treats. Fortunately, this creamy dairy-free smoothie is not only a wonderful start for your day or after workout pick-me-up, it also tastes fantastic. It may look green, but it tastes similar to a creamy, dreamy pumpkin pie.

Many dairy-free smoothies use frozen banana to give body and creaminess, however my low-carb eating husband challenged me to come up with an alternative ingredient. Instead of banana, Green Pumpkin Pie Smoothie gets it’s smooth texture from avocado, decreasing the sugar and carb content from what is found in the typical smoothie.  A  typical avocado has about 14 grams of fiber, much more than other fruits. The fiber, along with its healthy monounsaturated fat, and higher protein content than most fruits, make avocados a great energy source that keep you feeling full and satisfied longer.

Rounding out the ingredient list for this simple to blend smoothie are pumpkin and spinach. Rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps maintain blood pressure and kidney function, pumpkin is also high in fiber and contains a fair share of vitamin C, an antioxidant essential for healthy skin and gums. The dark leafy green of spinach is a nutritional powerhouse all on its own. There are few food sources that offer more vitamin K than spinach, essential for blood clotting and bone health. Recent research also shows that vitamin K may help decrease inflammation in the body. Other important nutrients found in spinach are beta-caroteen, lutein, folate, and magnesium.
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Strawberry Banana Oat Smoothie

I have been brainstorming and testing healthy back to school breakfast ideas for a few weeks now so that I am not stuck in a cereal rut when the school year finally hits. Our daughter, Eliza, is entering sixth grade this year. If her summertime “primping” schedule is any indicator of just how long it will take her to get ready in the mornings, then I better have quite a few “grab-n-go” breakfasts in my arsenal because I doubt she will be sitting with us at the breakfast table very much.

I love having homemade breakfast cereal bars, and fruits like bananas and apples on hand for quick grabbing, but sometimes a girl just needs a smoothie to start her day off right. This smoothie is packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein; it will stay with her until time for lunch and she won’t come crashing down from the high of sugar coated cereals and store-bought breakfast bars.  Besides tasting really good together I chose these ingredients specifically for what each of them has to offer Eliza.

  • Almond milkAside from offering lots of protein and vitamins, almond milk is rich in manganese, copper and riboflavin. These nutrients play an important role in energy production.
  • Bananas:  High in potassium and low in salt, they are officially recognized by the FDA as being able to lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack and stroke. Rich in pectin, bananas aid digestion and are a great natural energy booster due to all of that potassium.
  • Strawberries: One cup of strawberries contains a whopping 136% of the RDA of vitamin C, can help lower blood pressure and ensure a healthy immune system. Like almond milk, strawberries are also rich in manganese which is great for the bones too.
  • Gluten-free oats: Provide high levels of fiber, low levels of fat, and high levels of protein. Oats also are known to remove the bad cholesterol in your body without affecting your good cholesterol. All of that being said; they stick with you longer than other foods so I can rest assured that she will stay satisfied until lunchtime and can concentrate on learning rather than hunger pains.

Other Smoothie Recipes & Tips:

Strawberry Banana Oat Smoothie

Makes 1 large smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk, preferably homemade
  • 2 frozen bananas, broken into 3-4 pieces each
  • 4 large frozen organic strawberries
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free oats

Instructions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the order listed in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
  2. If the mixture seems too thick, add more almond milk 1-2 tablespoons at a time.

Meg van der Kruik of Beard and BonnetMeg is the blogger, photographer, and recipe developer behind Beard & Bonnet, a gluten-free vegetarian blog that celebrates style, design, food, and family. Along with her husband, she’s also one half of the duo behind award-winning eco-design studio Union Eighteen whose recycled rugs have garnered international acclaim. Her goal is to show others that gluten-free, vegetarian living can be easy and fulfilling, not to mention delicious! You can also find Meg on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Read all of her posts here.

Five Healthy Sources of Protein and Chocolate Protein “Frosty”

protein chocolate frosty

source: Alta Mantsch

I’m generally a fan of obtaining protein from natural, whole foods sources. After all, that’s what our body will recognize as food, right? But sometimes, we fall into a rut, and the same old protein options seem…boring. Personally, as much I love eggs, or tuna, or chicken, there are times I just cannot get excited about another hard-boiled egg for breakfast.

This is when I start to get creative. After all, there are healthy protein sources out there that aren’t just meat, eggs, or dairy – we just don’t always think about them. Some great sources of protein include:

  • Nut butters, such as peanut or almond butter - around 8 grams of protein per serving.
  • Greens, such as spinach or kale – 5-7 grams per cup of cooked greens.
  • Quinoa - 9 grams per cup.
  • Beans and lentils – depending on the variety, between 13 and 18 grams per cup.
  • Protein powders – if you shop around, many of the brands out there carry a respectable ingredient list. (Some are highly processed and have somewhat skeptical ingredients.) My favorites are Vega, Plant Fusion, and Sunwarrior. They are all gluten-free and taste pretty good. While I prefer getting most of my protein from whole foods, I feel these protein powders are a good way to keep the variety.

In fact, if you’re craving sweets on a hot day, this protein “frosty” might be just the change of pace you need. It’s a cinch to whip up in the blender, and really satisfies the urge for a cool, creamy, frosty treat. In fact, I might consider making this my new favorite post-workout “snack”!
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Freeze Your Smoothie for a Nutrition-Packed Ice Pop

Gluten-free, vegan ice pops

Smoothie Ice Pops. Source: Kim Lutz

Spring and summer mean loads of activities at my house. Baseball, swimming, biking, and playing outside are some of the fun times that make it a little more challenging to ensure that my family is eating well. It seems like mealtime can be hurried when there are a million more entertaining things to do.

How can I provide the treats we love while making sure that everyone is getting a wide range of fruits and vegetables?

By transforming our year-round staple, smoothies, into a dessert! If you freeze your produce-rich smoothies in an ice pop mold, your kids (and you) can lick up fruits and vegetables any time they like.

Not only can you blend up a batch of smoothie and freeze it all into ice pops, but you can freeze the little bit that’s left over in your blender after your breakfast into just one ice pop!

If you don’t have an ice pop mold, you can get started anyway.  Just freeze your smoothie in an ice cube tray, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and insert short craft sticks, straws or toothpicks through the plastic into the center of the cube.  Once it’s frozen, remove the plastic and pop out a mini ice pop!
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