MY FAVORITE GREEN SMOOTHIE & PREP

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When life is really busy, every minute counts. Even five or ten minutes spent putting together a smoothie can seem like too much, and deter you from wanting to make it. 

A few weeks ago we had a GIANT bag of spinach, leftover from holiday gatherings, that was teetering on the edge of not edible. You know how greens get before truly going bad? It's still safe to eat, but not delightfully crisp anymore.

So, I made up a bunch of individual freezer bags with several generous handfuls of spinach, perfect for smoothie use. 

And guess what? Don't ask me why, because it's sort of ridiculous, but it was a million times easier to make a smoothie this week. My previous go-to method was just grab a handful from the bag or bin of spinach. So it's not like I saved myself any more than 10 seconds - but, it meant I wasn't wondering if my spinach was still fresh, cleanup was easier, and everything was premeasured. And even though it truly doesn't make much sense, it worked for me. THESE are the types of tricks you've got to find to make healthy living work for you. Whatever gets you eating veggies, working out, going to bed earlier, etc. easier for you, do that. Even if it makes zero sense or seems bananas to someone else. 

This week, I took it a step further, and added all my mix-ins to the bags as well. I chose not to add anything further to flavor it, like cocoa or additional fruit, because I like having a blank smoothie canvas to work with. If I make 5 chocolate pb smoothie bags but only feel like drinking 3 that week, I'm not gonna have a smoothie. 

I also know from experience, that I don't really enjoy other greens in my smoothie. Kale, romaine, swiss chard, they all have their place in my diet (I'm working on loving kale), but I do not enjoy them in my smoothie. And guess what? THAT's OKAY. I eat romaine in salads, love sauteed swiss chard with eggs, and like small amounts of kale in salads or dishes. Spinach is incredibly mild, and almost totally unnoticeable in smoothies. AKA as long as something other than spinach and almond milk go in, it's not going to taste like spinach. That's not true for the other greens, in my opinion. But if you love smoothies with other greens, feel free to throw them in!

BLANK SMOOTHIE CANVAS:

2-3 Handfuls spinach (will smash down and condense when frozen)
1 T of each: flax seed, hemp seed, and spinach
1 scoop collagen (I use Further Food)

These are ingredients that I add to every smoothie. They don't alter the taste, just the consistency a little bit, and they are freezer safe (aka not gonna be weird frozen). Feel free to add one, none, or all of the mixins. 

Separately, I have a huge bag of frozen, overly ripe bananas, an ice cube tray of frozen overly ripe avocados (measured in 1-2 T portions), frozen berries, and cashews and extra hemp seeds, in case I need to quickly whip up some milk as base for a smoothie. I've commited to keeping these things stocked, so that I can always have my staples for a smoothie on hand. 
 

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MY FAVORITE GREEN SMOOTHIE
-One premade freezer baggie (see above)
-1/2 to 1 c. almond, cashew, or hemp milk (add more if serving more people or prefer a thinner consistency)
-1-2 T natural peanut butter (no added oils or sugar. the ingredients should just be peanuts and maybe salt) // can also use powdered pb for less calories and fat
-2 tsp cocoa powder (use a sustainably harvested brand)
-1/2 to whole banana (depending on portion size, desired calories and sweetness)
-optional: chocolate protein powder
-optional: a few drops of vanilla stevia
-1 ice cube of avocado

The BEST thing about this recipe? It's good no matter how you vary the ingredients. If you're looking for a lighter snack, you can reduce amounts for less calories. If you're looking for a meal replacement, you can use more ingredients and add protein powder. 

(If you're wondering why I don't portion out the bananas and avocados in each bag, it's for two reasons. One, my blender is a little wimpy, and so if I have fresh bananas or avocado, I prefer to use those or a frozen and fresh combo. Two, sometimes I make a smoothie for myself, or sometimes it's for the whole family. It's easier to scale a smoothie if the ingredients are separate). 

PS - the time you saved making in means you might now have time to enjoy your smoothie as a bowl, like you're at a fancy restaurant.

Katie Buchanan