I love a good smoothie in the morning. Fruit, greens, protein, more fruit — it’s a wonderful quick, gluten-free breakfast solution that’s healthy too! Here are some of my favorite tips on making great smoothies that you (and hopefully your kids) will enjoy.

Another reason I love smoothies is because they aid in digestion, and improving your digestion helps improve your pain.

Frozen Banana Slices

Frozen banana slices will thicken your smoothie and may keep you from needing to add ice. I buy large quantities of bananas and let them get just a little dark on the outside. This means they are really flavorful and delicious.

Bananas ready to slice

Ready to slice

Then I slice the bananas into a gallon-size freezer bag. Just pile the slices from 5-6 bananas right into the bag. Then close up the bag, squeezing out as much air as you can. Flatten the bananas into a single layer, as much as possible. And toss into the freezer!

Ready for the freezer!

Ready for the freezer!

Other Tips & Ideas:

  • Heavy duty blenders like Blendtec & Vita-Mix are worth the money. I also use my Blendtec for lots of other kitchen tasks! I chose Blendtec because it was important to me that the blender fit under my kitchen cabinets. Vita-Mix blenders are a little taller, and have some different available features.
  • Don’t mix red/orange fruits with greens if you want kids to drink the smoothie. The color combination makes a brown smoothie. It’s still tasty, but not as pleasing visually. (You can however add some cacao or unsweetened cocoa and tell the kids it’s a chocolate shake!)
  • My favorite source of information about green smoothies is Victoria Boutenko’s Green Smoothie Revolution book and Web site.
  • Most veggies are better ingredients for fresh juice rather than in smoothies
  • Don’t forget to add herbs & extras like parsley, garlic or ginger. They have great health benefits and are so tasty too!
  • Just a tablespoon of uncooked, whole, gluten-free oats will thicken your smoothie and make it more filling. Don’t add more than 2 tablespoons so as not to put a strain on your digestive system.

Some questions from Facebook friends:

Q: Is a smoothie a good way to wake up our body in the morning, or should we have ‘solid food?’

My thoughts: I believe there’s many answers to this question – each person needs different foods prepared in different ways to satisfy their morning nutrition and energy needs. There are many days when I crave a smoothie. However, if my body is asking for a bowl of oatmeal or a tofu scramble, I find it’s important to listen to these messages. When we start our day with a liquid meal, we are giving our body a few more hours to finish digesting dinner. If you had a late or heavy dinner, this can be a big help!

Q: How can I sneak extra nutrition into my smoothies?

My thoughts: The nutrition Americans are most lacking is minerals, and the best source for these is greens. Adding greens like spinach, kale, parsley, etc. will increase nutrition benefits. I also like to include some “superfoods” like raw honey, raw cacao nibs and goji berries to enhance both flavor and nutrition in my smoothies. And honestly, every smoothie ingredient is so much more nutritious than your typical sugary cereal or fast-food breakfast. So if you have a smoothie instead, you are way ahead!

Q: Is it ok to combine fruits and veggies?

My thoughts: Generally, I stick to fruits and greens with the added nutritional boost items. However, there are times when certain veggies can add a lot to a smoothie — I love a pumpkin smoothie in the fall!

Q: How can I get protein into my smoothies?

My thoughts: My all-time favorite source of smoothie protein is hulled, raw, organic hemp seeds. They have a buttery, nutty taste that doesn’t overpower other smoothie ingredients. They are less heavily processed than protein powders. And hemp seeds have nutritional benefits – Omega 3 fatty acids; amino acids and gluten-free. Another protein option is soft or silken tofu. When you spin this into the smoothie, it takes on the tastes of your other smoothie ingredients which is nice. However, some folks find that they need to limit the amount of soy in their diets. Soy isn’t always best as a regular or significant protein source. For the most part, I only use protein powders if I have no other options. But that’s just me …

My favorite time-saving tip

My blender cleaning secret!

My blender cleaning secret!

There’s really no need to wash your blender in the dishwasher every time you use it. Just put 1-2 cups of hot water in with a drop of dishwashing liquid. Pulse for 30 seconds or so and rinse thoroughly. I put my blender in the dishwasher if my smoothie had something oily like almond butter in it, or if I’ve made 3-4 smoothies since I last dishwashered it.

I hope this gives you some great new ideas! Please add comments with questions so I can keep helping improve your smoothies.

 

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