Monday, May 18, 2009

Green Smoothies and Muffins (Yep, that's right green and muffins)

Want to pack a high-powered-punch into you're breakfast? Try a green smoothie, a complete vitamin-fortified, healthy morning shake that guarantees to start your day off right.

Green? But how can a smoothie be green? It's simple.

For one serving (a large glass) or two smaller servings, combine the following ingredients into a blender:

- 1/2 apple (whatever variety you prefer)
- 2-4 large Kale or Collard leaves, or a handful of smaller kale/collard/spinach leaves (you can vary this amount according to personal preference)
-10-15 strawberries (blueberries can be substituted as well, or use a combo. But if you're just being introduced to green smoothies, your best bet is strawberries because they help to cut and balance out the taste of the greens)
-Approx. 8 ounces of water/soymilk/ or a combination

Blend until smooth. It helps if you have a blender with a sharp blade and little bit of oomph, but if not, just keep the ingredients dancing in the blender for an extra few minutes.

And it tastes good too? Yes, give it a try. Although it won't be as sweet as your typical strawberry and banana smoothie, the drink tastes pretty good. To say the least, it's definitely edible. Think of it as a vitamin pill, as you drink down an assortment of different health-boosters. You can also get creative and throw in any other kind of fruit you have lying around the house. The more fruit you add, the sweeter the drink will taste (but you will also be adding more sugar and extra calories, so be choosy).

Pair the drink with a muffin. Not one of those sugary, processed, high-fat muffins, but an English muffin (sorry if I got your hopes up for the dessert muffin, but no, that's not a suitable way to start your day). Toast a whole-wheat English muffin, and add butter (I like to use Smart Balance spread), jam, or both. You could also try topping your muffin with a layer of almond butter to provide a little punch of protein. Almonds are a great source of vitamins and minerals, including manganese and copper, two trace minerals that deactivate free radicals flowing around in the body that hinder energy flow. Almonds also contain riboflavin, which aids in the carrying out of oxygen-based energy processes. While they will add a bit of fat to your breakfast, lucky for you, the majority of the fat almonds contain is monounsaturated (the healthy kind).

Make sure you make your English muffin is whole-wheat or sprouted wheat. The whole grains provide substantial fiber, helping to make you feel full quicker and stay full longer. Make sure you choose brands that advertise "100% whole-wheat", not just "whole-wheat". Often times the first ingredient on supposedly "whole-wheat" products is enriched flour (or white flour) followed by several other ingredients, and then whole-wheat flour. This means there's only a smidgen of whole-wheat flour (the healthy, fibrous flour) in the product, just enough to label it as "whole-wheat" and to fool consumers. (I'll post later in detail about this issue.) I like Ezekiel Sprouted Grain English Muffins, which can often be found in the freezer section of grocery or health food stores. These muffins contain 6 grams (or 20 % of your daily needs) per muffin and 8 grams of protein. Also, there are not artificial or processed ingredients. You could also try Thomas 100% Whole Wheat Muffins. The first five ingredients are relatively pure, but this brand does contain some processed ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, so if possible, stick to the other brand.

Get your blender shakin' and your toaster poppin' and bon appetit.

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