Earlier this year, I made the decision to be more health-conscious with my breakfast choices. That meant I had to put down the granola bar and find something with some lasting nutritional value. Since my job is one where we report well before 8 AM and I’m unwilling to get up earlier to get a “proper” breakfast, my answer seemed obvious: smoothies!
It turns out that getting an easy, healthful breakfast can be made even easier with a little planning and a little freezer room. It’s as simple as starting with a “base” recipe” and getting as funky as you like.
Basics of a Breakfast Smoothie
¼-½ cup frozen fruit
½ cup fruit juice (real fruit juice like OJ, not one of those “fruit cocktail” abominations)
½ cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 tablespoon flax seed
Place all ingredients into a blender. Push play. Whiz until everything is well blended. It is called a “smoothie” after all, not a “chunky”. Pour delicious breakfast into a large travel mug. Grab keys and hit the road knowing that this breakfast routine just got healthier.
An indispensable tool in our kitchen is the immersion blender. I literally use it every day. If you have one, skip the regular blender step, put everything in your travel mug and whiz it up right in there. It’s great; no blender to clean. I love this thing so much that one year I gave half the people in my family immersion blenders for Christmas.
Another way I have streamlined the process is by mixing all my wheat germ and flax seed together in a shaker or something with a seal-able pour top. That way, when I’m spending three minutes to make a breakfast smoothie, all I do is pour in what looks like three tablespoons of “Hippie Mix”, as C calls it. No measuring, no extra steps.
Now, let’s go back to the freezer bit. This is where you get to be creative. What C and I like to do is look for deals on fruit. Many cities have “past-prime” produce outlets or parking lot produce trucks. We’re fortunate enough to have the latter. Once a week, there’s a truck that sells trays of slightly overripe fruit and veg at ridiculously low prices. We show up with our market bags and think freezer! So ask around, check with your grocery store, or find a friend with too many fruit trees.
The more fruit colors represented in a smoothie, the better. My rule of thumb (totally unscientific and un-researched as I am not a doctor or a dietitian) is to get at least three. Banana, peaches, blueberries. Strawberries, blackberries, kiwi. Go with what looks good.
After choosing, hauling and washing the fruit, the key to making mornings easier later is to prep as much as possible now. That means cutting the fruit into pieces and putting it into freezer containers. It’s easiest to mix or layer the fruit as you go and make one container with a week in mind. For me, one container equals one week.
Only put fruit in the freezer container. I once tried cutting out a step and freezing the fruit in orange juice, but it just made things messier later. I also tried making “ready to blend” containers – everything already frozen together, just thaw and toss in the blender, right? – but found that yogurt and orange juice don’t have a good freezing/thawing relationship. So, prepping and freezing the fruit beforehand is a great start to an easy breakfast smoothie. I have to insert a disclaimer that this is the most beautiful your fruit will look before it comes out of the blender later. Freshly frozen fruit loses its firm, fleshy nature and tends to come out of the freezer looking, um, not like it did when you put it in there. Let me assure you it still tastes great and once it zips around in the blender, you’ll hardly know the difference.
The fun part is being creative and thinking of all the ways to pack flavor and nutrients into something so easy. I have a friend that throws spinach in with the fruit to boost iron. Only vary the fruit and the juice – don’t use blueberry-flavored kids’ yogurt and lie to yourself that you’re doing a good thing. There is no need for added sugar. The fruit is sweet enough as it is, just like your new breakfast routine.