Posts Tagged ‘ green smoothie ’

Green Smoothies, Green Smoothies all the time!

On June 23rd my family headed to Japan for six weeks.  My wife and two kids flew to Japan where my two kids were each able to enroll in at least three weeks of school, and then have a few weeks of summer vacation in Japan before they come back on August 5th.

Today is the 41st day since they got on that plane, and it’s been rough.  I expected it to be rough six weeks, but it got significantly more challenging than I expected after I broke my arm badly early in June.  I’d say I’m normally in decent shape; I’m a healthy weight, love mountain biking, enjoy road biking as well, and my wife cooks incredibly healthy and tasty, usually Japanese, meals.  My expectation, prior to breaking my arm, was that during these six weeks I would be able to ride my bike to and from work most days, go out for long rides on the weekends, and have a lot of free time to exercise to offset whatever unhealthy diet decisions I made because of eating out.

Boom.  Break my arm, plans change.

My arm was broken badly.  It was an intra-articular, displaced, open fracture of my distal radius with multiple large fragments.  Multiple doctors told me to expect surgery following the break, expecting the bone fragments to shift after an initial reduction and plaster cast that set the bones well.  In other words, while I’ve had a CT scan and seven sets of X-rays since the break with an eight set coming up Tuesday, I’m extremely lucky that I managed to avoid surgery.  I managed to escape with just the excitement of a bi-valve, antibiotics, multiple casts and a now a split.

That said, the break was bad enough that for the first several weeks I was told not to use the hand, keep it elevated and not move it any more than necessary, which I took very serious to maximize my chances of avoiding surgery.  But long after the injury, I’m home alone.  A long handled bath brush helped with bathing, but I still needed to take care of feeding myself, except now I had to do so with one hand while also needing to cut back on calories to account for my lack of physical activity.

As a result, my Vitamix has seen basically daily use for the last month and a half.  My green smoothie recipes have basically all followed this pattern:

Green Smoothies, Green Smoothies all the time!

Green leaves (choose one):

Baby Spinach or Spinach (I use this the most often)
Turnip Greens
Baby Kale or Kale
Arugula
Daikon Greens (I’m growing daikon in our garden, otherwise I don’t know how you’d get this)

Vegetables (choose four to eight):
Carrots

Broccoli
Cucumber
Celery
Bell Peppers
Vidalia Onion
Green Onions
Sugar Snap Peas

Flavor Vegetables (optional, usually none or just one):
Cilantro

Garlic
Ginger
Shiso Leaves

Fruits (choose one or two):
Frozen/Fresh Banana

Frozen Mango
Frozen Berries Mix
Frozen Strawberries
Frozen/Fresh Blueberries
Frozen/Fresh Cherries
Fresh Apple
Fresh Apricot
Fresh Peaches

Other Addtions (usually all three):
Plain Yogurt

Almonds
Flax Seeds

 

A good amount of leaves, small bit of each vegetable, a flavor vegetable or two, a handful of fruit and then yogurt, almonds and flax seeds along with a mix of ice and water blended to make a frozen green smoothie.

That list includes all the ingredients needed for the permutations I can remember off the top of my head.  A coworker I’ve been sharing my green smoothies with was most impressed with one that used shiso leaves, as that seemed to be a surprisingly good addition to what would have otherwise been an unremarkable green smoothie.  Yogurt and almonds also help more than I would have expected.  I’ve also occasionally enjoyed a banana milk for breakfast or lunch, which are especially enjoyable on the hotter summer days, and are hopefully giving my healing wrist that much needed calcium.

I’ve managed to keep working through this injury, and I’ve managed to avoid gaining weight during this injury.  If I didn’t have my Vitamix, I’m fairly certain I’d have been eating out more, gaining weight, spending more money and getting less nutrients.  Staying at my current weight means one less hurdle to deal with as I go through my recovery.

I won’t lie and say I’m in great shape now.  I tried jogging after moving from the cast to the splint.  Jogging was tougher than it used to be, and I’ll need to exercise regularly to get back in shape.  But an almost daily green smoothie helped me ensure that I was constantly getting a good mix of vegetables and other healthy foods in a quick, enjoyable, low-calorie way.  Even when my arm was aching and I didn’t feel good, I could whip up a green smoothie without too much trouble and ensure I was eating well.

My family will be home this week, and I should be able to gradually do more and more with them as the wrist continues to heal.  Hopefully my recovery will continue to make steady progress, and I’m looking forward to getting back into shape.

Dill Green Smoothie (★★★★☆)

We ate at Five Guys for an easy dinner yesterday, and had cereal this morning, so I wanted to make a green smoothie to go with lunch, but didn’t have the ingredients for any of the mixes I usually make, but stumbled upon a nice mix as a result.  I used my Pro 300 (aka 7500), since it’s the blender I’m most comfortable with.

The only fresh herb we had in the vegetable drawer was dill, and my wife makes a nice yogurt and dill sauce.  That coupled with the half of an apple left over from breakfast and the peanut butter I made yesterday gave me the idea for this.

Dill Green Smoothie (★★★★☆)
The ingredients go well together, and the results is one of the most drinkable green smoothies to come out of randomly throwing ingredients together

2 medium handfuls of spinach
1½ apples
2 celery stalks
1 cucumber
fresh dill
two heaping tablespoons of plain yogurt
one heaping tablespoon of homemade peanut butter
tablespoons of flax seeds
lots of ice

I turned the Vitamix up to speed 5 until it got going, then turned it up to speed 10.  I used the tamper on the ingredients for the first 15 or 20 seconds until everything was mixing well.

Definitely a good mix, and something I’d be happy to make again with no changes.

Find a way to improve on the above mix?  Let me know in the comments!

Mild Baby Kale Green Smoothie (★★★★☆)

We had friends over today for breakfast who stayed for lunch.  I told them to bring over whatever they wanted to blend up in the blender, and that breakfast would be green smoothies and waffles.   I was looking forward to mixing things in both the my new Blendtec Designer Series and my tried and true Vitamix Professional Series 300. (The Pro 300 is basically the same as a 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.)

While we made a reasonably good green smoothie in the morning, I was shocked by how good the green smoothie I made for lunch was.  Unfortunately, I can’t ever replicate it, at least not exactly, because the fruit portion of the green smoothie was the left over fruit from that morning.

Here’s the recipe, as close as I can remember:

Mild Baby Kale Green Smoothie (★★★☆)
This was really, really easy to drink, and while no one else seemed to enjoy it quite as much as I did, I was very, very impressed with how good this tasted

2 medium handfuls of baby kale
4 oz of blueberries
2 strawberries
2 pieces of mango (similar in size to the strawberries)
2 orange wedges (seeds removed)
1 small carrot
1 celery stalk
1 small piece of cinnamon stick
ice and water (approximately 16oz, half ice, half water)

Added everything together and used the tamper on speed 10 on the Vitamix Pro 300.  Blended for approximately 40 seconds.

I don’t know how accurate that is, but the veggies are correct, and the fruit was mainly blueberries, but the small amount of mango really helped.  I was shocked by this because I was just using the leftovers we had, and I’m not usually a fan of kale or blueberries, but this particular mix was something I would definitely make again.

Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothie (★★★☆☆)

We had friends over today for breakfast who stayed for lunch.  I told them to bring over whatever they wanted to blend up in the blender, and that breakfast would be green smoothies and waffles.   I was looking forward to mixing things in both the my new Blendtec Designer Series and my tried and true Vitamix Professional Series 300. (The Pro 300 is basically the same as a 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.)

The first thing I made was whipped cream for the waffles.  Following that, I decided to make a green smoothie using baby kale, based on a recipe I received from a co-worker.  I am not a fan of kale, but I wanted to change that.  My coworker makes this green smoothie regularly in a Health Master her husband received as a gift using extra water and peanut butter and cinnamon powder instead of peanuts and cinnamon sticks, and leaving out the flax seeds.

I’ll go into more detail on how the two blenders matched up below, but here’s the recipe for anyone who’s interested:

Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothie (★★★☆☆)
The ingredients go well together, and the results is one of the most drinkable kale based green smoothies I have had.  I do not have a high degree of confidence in the ratios of the ingredients below, but the ingredients themselves work well together.

2 medium handfuls of baby kale
1 large banana
3-4 tablespoons of unsalted peanuts
cinnamon stick pieces (to taste)
2 tablespoons of flax seeds
ice and water (approximately 16oz, half ice, half water)

I used the smoothie button on the Blendtec, and used the tamper on speed 10 on the Vitamix Pro 300.  I started the Vitamix just after the Blendtec, turning it off just before the 40 second smoothie program ended.

The smoothie itself was a little better than I was expecting, but not as interesting to me as how the Blendtec would compare to the Vitamix.

I tried to make both sets of ingredients as equal as possible:

Getting ready to make Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothies in both blenders simultaneously

Getting ready to make Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothies in both blenders simultaneously

Adding ice to both blenders

Adding ice to both the Designer Series (left) and Professional Series 300 (right)

I broke out both the two “B” and two “V” cups that I made for blind taste testing the Banana Milk I made in my first side-by-side test of the two blenders, and served the green smoothie to my guests, and got two votes for the Vitamix with texture the only reason that either friend could articulate. I noticed that the Blendtec mix was slightly warmer, which is a trend I’m seeing, an issue that could be easily rectified in this recipe by using more ice and less water. Regardless, the difference between the blenders for this particular mix is small.

Bachelor Man Green Smoothies (★★★★☆) and I ordered a Vitamix 7500!

My family is finally back home after spending five weeks in Japan without me.  (I will be able to get time off work to accompany them year, but work kept me from being able to go this year.)

While they were gone, I used my blender a lot, as my cooking skills are limited when it comes to recipes that don’t involve a blender.  I made a frozen mocha drinks, peanut butter, banana milk and the like, but what I made almost every single day was a particular combination of vegetables that I figured I’d share the recipe, as I’m pretty fond of it.

Bachelor Man Green Smoothies (★★★★☆)
2-3 cups of spinach
half a green bell pepper
half a large cucumber
3-4 stalks of celery
cilantro to taste (I was using a lot)
small slice of fresh ginger
1 apple (I wasn’t very particular on what kind, but not huge)

I’d blend all that up, and by the end of the five weeks I found myself adding water to start because it made the blending easier, but early on, I’d try to blend it with as little water as possible, bike in to work with a biking water bottle filled with the dense mix and mix it about 1:1 with cold water from the water cooler at work to enjoy throughout the day.

I am sure that that mix does not sound attractive to people who haven’t had green smoothies, but as a fan of ginger, cilantro and spinach, the above mix seems to be the ingredients that consistently hit the spot.  The four star rating is basically only because I recognize that other people won’t be nearly the fan of this that I am, but it is my favorite green smoothie.  (For whatever reason, apples seem to work better than everything else as a light sweetener.)

Now, the other news is that I actually did go ahead and order a Vitamix 7500.  On a lark, I called up the person at Vitamix that I bought my blender from, and was asking about the 7500. Turns out that she’s actually had a few people mention that they called her because of the post I made in 2011, and she said she’d love for me to share her details again:  Brenda Kilbane at Vitamix, 1-800-848-2649, extension 2305, and free shipping code 06-006651.

Turns out that if you’re an existing Vitamix 5200 owner, you can trade in your 5200 for $100 off.  Now, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to do that, but it’s cool that there is a trade-in option. Another available option was that I can try the 7500 for 30 days and return it without paying anything, which makes trying out the 7500 risk free.  Since that’s the case, I decided I’d like to try the Vitamix 7500 and 5200 side-by-side and see how they both perform in different mixes.  One of the main things that prompted this is the amount of using the tamper and/or adding water that I was using for the Bachelor Man Green Smoothies above, and I did decide I want to try the 7500 out for myself and see how it might perform.

If the 7500 is a better blender, I’ll likely keep the 7500 and give my 5200 to my folks for Christmas.  They were crazy about my blender the last time they visited, so I know they’d like it and get a lot of use out of it, and I’d be happy to keep the blender I’m most comfortable with.  If the 7500 doesn’t seem like an improvement to me, I’ll probably return the 7500 and keep the 5200.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get my parents a refurbished Vitamix 5200, since it’s substantially cheaper than the 7500.

Expect to see some updates in the near future on how the 5200 and the 7500 stack up side by side.  If anyone has any specific questions about the 7500, just let me know!

My posts get me money? Sounds good to me. Also, Dandelion Dirt Drinks (★☆☆☆☆)

So, I’m now enrolled in my new job’s health insurance, and they have a healthy rewards program where you can get money from them for filling out a diary of things you eat (that are healthy) and exercise you do.  It seems like a perfect way to find those extra minutes in a day to post about what I’ve been mixing.

Among other things, I continue to make a lot of green smoothies in my blender, and while there are some good mixes and bad mixes with the rainbow chard I bought, I do not think I’m much of a fan of dandelion greens.

I made a variety of green smoothies with the dandelion, but most of them are along the lines of:

Dandelion Dirt Drink (★☆☆☆☆)
Gritty and bitter, but hey, it’s good for you.

Lots of dandelion greens
Some cilantro
one fresh apple from the local orchard
one banana
some water, to water it down
and a dozen ice cubes, to water it down.

So yeah, blend it all up on high, and drink it.  It’s not going to kill you, but I’ve had green smoothies I would definitely look forward to again.  In fact, I felt like the taste was probably growing on me for health reasons, and that they probably hadn’t gotten as good as I thought that had.  Then dandelion based drinks made me reconsider that some of my other drinks probably really were decent, as the dandelions based drinks just…weren’t.  They’d range from 0 to 2 stars.

In addition to three large glasses of the above, I also had three more apples, half a raw onion, a banana, some cabbage, cilantro, asian pear and a pickle to go with the lettuce, onions and salsa in our taco rice tonight.  Hopefully that’s good enough for some healthy rewards. ;-P

World’s Best Hot Chocolate (★★★★★), Jalapeno V6 (★★★☆☆)

Didn’t post yesterday, but definitely used the blender for a few different things today and yesterday, so I’ll just post the first half of the recipes here:

World’s Best Hot Chocolate (★★★★★)
This is unbelievably good and highly recommended

2 cups of whole milk
6 tablespoons of cocoa powder
3 tablespoons of sugar
a small splash of vanilla extra
salt (just the tiniest amount)

Blend everything on high until the Vitamix 5200 heats the milk enough to turn it into hot cocoa.  Steam will rise from the top.  Drink immediately.  You can tweak the cocoa and sugar, but this is the mix I like, and it’s easier to make with larger portions, harder with smaller portions.

(Feb 2013 EditHere are some things I learned the hardway in experimenting with the above recipe:

  • Don’t use stevia as a substitute for part of the sugar
  • Don’t throw a Hershey’s Kiss in thinking it will improve the taste of the cocoa
  • Don’t add too much vanilla (granted, that was on accident.)

The other thing I’ve learned is that rather than heat it in the blender, mixing it thoroughly, then heating it in a sauce pan, taking care to not boil it, seems to be the best way to make this.)

Jalapeno V6(★★★☆☆)
This is better than I expected, but probably not for most people.

¾ cup of tomato puree
¼ celery stalk
1 romaine lettuce heart
several sprigs of cilantro
½ green pepper, with seeds and white insides spooned out
1 jalapeño pepper, halved length-wise, with seeds and white insides spooned out
1 fresh Ginger Gold apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
salt (to taste)
2 dozen ice cubes

Blend everything but the ice cubes, then add ice cubes through the top of the lid while the blender is on high.

Hopefully I can post about the Banana Milk variant and other green smoothie later today.