Monday, July 30, 2012

A Pinch of Sunshine: T.A.C.

Avocado...guacamole, kale salad, veggie burger and...smoothie? Here's a fun exercise. Think of a word––a food, a color, a place, anything––and list whatever comes to mind when you think of that word. Don't think...just go! What do you come up with?

I have a recipe that I haven't found on some other blog or health magazine. Every time I think I have some "ingenious" recipe idea and whip out my phone to take pictures for a blog post, I am disappointed to find that someone not only has my same idea, but that they make it better. But alas, as far as I know, this recipe is mine! It's really not that ingenious, and someone out there most likely has tried something either exactly the same or very similar, but I haven't read about it, and I quite frankly don't feel like trying to find out!

When I was in San Diego, I tried a very peculiar smoothie: an avocado and honey smoothie. That's it. Avocado, milk, and honey. Avocado-girl as a I am, I had to try it, but it was certainly an acquired taste. It didn't have much flavor. I'll admit I was a bit disappointed at first, especially as I looked at my brother beside me with his chocolate shake. But I wanted to like it; it had avocados! It was a smoothie that required concentration. I had to think about what I was tasting with every sip, and I found that the more I drank, the more I liked it. Alas, I didn't find this out until near the end of the smoothie. So, before the end of the trip, I made sure I made another stop by the little café to give it another go.

While on my school end-of-the-year trip, my friend decided to take advantage of all the extra avocados we had (That's kind of a strange many people have you ever heard say they have "extra avocados?") and make an avocado smoothie. We looked up recipes, and found one that used avocado, vanilla yogurt, and milk. I was thrilled to report that our smoothie did the one back in San Diego justice. As I said, it's an acquired taste, and no one else on the trip seemed to appreciate the taste. So, it was up to my mom (who chaperoned the trip), my friend and me to drink 12 servings worth of avocado problemo!

But, it still wasn't my own. However, I am proud to report that with the help of a few bonus ingredients, I have created a spin-off of the smoothie that adds additional health benefits while hardly impacting the flavor. Kale––a dark, leafy green–– is known as one of the healthiest vegetables, and is extremely rich in antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K, and high in iron. Follow the links below to learn more nutritional faces about the ingredients.

T.A.C.(Take A Chance)
You know the saying: "Don't judge a book by its cover." Well, don't judge a smoothie by its color! It will be green! But it should be a lighter, pale green. Personally, I think it's a pretty smoothie! 

Two 16oz. servings:
  • 2 avocados
  • Low-fat milk (can substitute for coconut milk, rice milk, etc.)
  • 1 banana
  • Kale
  • Plain yogurt*
  • Honey (can substitute for another sweetener, like agave or vanilla. Or, you can replace plain yogurt with vanilla yogurt.)
*Note: The yogurt gives the smoothie a frothier and smoother texture, as do nut butters. My mom doesn't tend to like the consistency of smoothies with yogurt or nut butter, so feel free to omit the yogurt. I like it because it adds additional protein and other health benefits, but the smoothie is still plenty healthy without it. If omitting the yogurt, don't omit the honey or substitute sweetener, as the smoothie will taste very bland.

Because everyone's taste varies, when it comes to making smoothies, it is best to prepare it by taste versus strict measuring guidelines. Some people blend ice in with their smoothies to make them colder, but I've found frozen fruits and veggies work better. (Before heading off for a run this morning, I prepared the banana and veggies and put them in the freezer. But, we were in a rush to leave the Cape, so they didn't have time to freeze fully and it was really humid, so we just added a few ice cubes.) There really is no "wrong way" to make a smoothie, but here's my recommendation for "T.A.C.": 

1) Add the avocados, banana, plain yogurt, and milk. As a rule of thumb, I usually use enough milk/liquid to cover 2/3 of the fruits/veggies. If the blender is getting stuck, add more liquid. I tend to like a thicker smoothie, but a thinner drink can easily be achieved by adding more liquid. 

2) Once you have your desired consistency, add kale and sweetener to taste. I've found the kale blends better after the rest of the ingredients have been blended. Kale can be bitter, so be careful not to add too much initially. You can always add more after!

(I wish my nails were green to match the theme.)

Something I didn't even consider as I was making this smoothie this morning was adding chia seeds. First introduced in my post "Oatmeal at Home," chia seeds are an easy way to add nutrients into your diet. Click here to learn more about the little omega-3 gold mines.

Do you have any smoothie recipes? What I love about smoothies is that there are endless recipes you can try, and they're an easy way to get in the nutrients you need to get through the day. 

Happy Cooking!

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