Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Secrets to Delicious Smoothies

My Vitamix Power Blender in action! Apples, carrots, cranberries & Acai Berry Blast Protein Energizer
Everyone has seemed to have gone smoothie crazy lately. Smoothies are somewhat of an off-shoot of the juice fast, raw food, gluten free & vegan lifestyles which I think are a step in the right direction.  It has already been noted that Americans eat far too much animal protein to be healthy. I remember having free range, hormone free chicken in Virginia (fried in lard no less) and noticed how little fat was actually on the fryer.  That was one lean bird! However, that's how most Americans ate up until recently.  Farms are more like factories today but I still remember what organic eggs from our free ranged chickens taste like as it wasn't that long ago.

So here I have some really good tips on making delicious smoothies that can start you on a healthier lifestyle, no matter how far you need to go.  I'm pretty experienced!  I got my first VitaMix nearly 20 years ago and began by serving my children whole fruit & vegetable juices back then....call them antique smoothies.

My first VitaMix.  It's still working but now it's in my son's family kitchen!
There are all sorts of blenders and juicers on the market these days such as The Green Bullet, The Breville Juicer, The Juiceman II etc. When choosing one for making smoothies from raw ingredients you'll need three things:

Power: A 2 horse power motor will take care of most anything you can throw at it.
No Waste: Any machine that requires you to throw away or pre-peel your fruits and vegetables is not worth it. Pick one that offers whole-food juices. 
Easy to Clean: This is really important because if you have to take the machine apart to clean it each time, you are not going to use it often enough to make a difference.

You don't need to cut fruits & vegetables into tiny pieces before putting them in the VitaMix
Another thing is that you shouldn't have to cut the fruit & vegetables up too much before processing them in your machine. I quarter my apples and break celery stalks in half but I use whole baby carrots and frozen produce with no trouble. In fact if that bunch of bananas is ripening too quickly to eat I simply peel and place them in a zip lock freezer bag. You can add them and other fruits and vegetables fully frozen to your machine.  You can use frozen blueberries, strawberries, peaches, kale, etc. which will be quite handy kept in your freezer.

My smoothies are actually a mini meal for me.  I usually drink one after my morning workout or bicycle ride as a recovery drink.  So to get the most out of my smoothie, I add a scoop of protein powder. I like berries a lot so if I'm making a smoothie with dried cranberries,(see lead photo), I'll add some Acai Berry Blast Protein Energizer by Rainbow Light.
Each scoop gives me 14 grams of brown rice protein (no bloaty soy), added fiber, digestive enzymes and antioxidants. It is sweetened naturally with Stevia so you only get less than 1 gram of sugar per serving. If I'm in a mocha mood, their chocolate version is so delicious and satisfying.  I often add some coconut and sunflower seed butter to some almond milk and add in a scoop of the Chocolate Protein Energizer.  Kind of like drinking a Reeses!  It makes a great after school snack or pick-me-up for the afternoon doldrums.

Chocolate and Acai Berry Protein Energizers can be added to whole food smoothies.
To avoid lumps and un-blended fruit and vegetable pieces, I load no more than two cups of water, ice and produce into the machine. I go from low then quickly blend up to the highest speed.  When it looks slushy but uniform in color, I add extra water and ice to get it to the drinkable consistency I want. If you store it in the refrigerator, use an air tight stainless steel water bottle and shake before drinking. The natural pulp will rise to the top after a while but shaking will mix it back in.

So these are just a few secrets I've learned to making nutritious, delicious blender smoothies every time.  It is easy to get your 5-6 serving of fruits and vegetables each day this way and as an added bonus, the VitaMix is self cleaning.  Just add a drop of dish detergent, fill with water, cap and whirl. A machine that is self-cleaning means you WILL use it, thus getting the full benefit of raw foods in your daily diet.

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