As muffins are to cupcakes, so are smoothies to shakes. You know, the substitute that people can claim is part of a healthy breakfast but ordinarily has just as much sugar as the “junk food” they’re standing in for.
Or, as Jim Gaffigan says, “you know the difference between a cupcake and a muffin? Nothing. A muffin is a bald cupcake…and WE KNOW IT.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. A muffin is technically a “quick bread” and can easily be made with a whole lot of goodness and very little junk…no, I’m not talking about YOU, Mr. Chocolate Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Delite muffin that’s the size of a grapefruit and has more calories than the average person needs for an entire meal. Hmm. I shouldn’t compare you to a grapefruit, even when the comparison is merely based on size. It makes you look healthier, you sneaky devil. How about…the size of a SOFTBALL. There ya go.
Smoothies are the same way. For some reason, it’s a word that carries power. Smoothie? Why, that’s like drinking Healthy straight from a straw! All the fun of a frozen drink with none of the guilt of, say, ice cream and chocolate and little blended up pieces of candy! I’m awesome! Win-win! When we lived in Greenville, I made a habit of stopping by the coffee shop next to my work to pick up a smoothie as part of a healthy breakfast or for an afternoon snack. It was delicious. I was health-conscious. Awesome.
But then, I started paying attention and realized that for $4 a pop I was paying for the privilege of ingesting syrup and ice. Wait a second……..syrup? That doesn’t sound real healthy. I wouldn’t be surprised if, somewhere on that container, there’s a little note that says something like, DOES NOT CONTAIN ACTUAL FRUIT JUICE. Traitors! Deceivers! Talk about empty calories.
Then, I found out — just like with muffins, it doesn’t have to be this way. You know, the “empty calories” way. Around about the time that I was swearing off syrup + ice, I was also experimenting with eating healthier, less-processed food. Yes, marathon training had quite a bit to do with this. Yes, I was also reading through Nancy Clark’s book. At the end of her book, I found a smoothie recipe that looked promising.
In fact, “recipe” might be a bit of an overstatement. What I found at the back of Clark’s book was more like smoothie guidelines, or Principles for Healthier Smoothies. Her version was a bit too “liquidy” (Sidenote: My brother is going to love this…he tried to play this in a game of Scrabble once and pouted quite a bit when I challenged it as the non-word it is. Now I’m using it. Hilarious.) for me, but I adjusted the guidelines to suit my needs and inherent laziness (more on the laziness in a minute). The results were just what I dreamed of. Those smoothies made for a great “first breakfast” during marathon training. They’ve also come in handy during pregnancy. Back in the first trimester when I was existing on cheerios and crackers, I could usually sip one of these. Being able to keep down a couple of servings of fruit was a big achievement and made me feel better about providing decent nutrition for LilRunr.
In addition, they taste fantastic! In addition to that addition, they cost under $2 a serving! (Especially if you plan ahead and buy strawberries or whatnot on sale, then freeze them yourself. I don’t do that very often — again, lazy! — but it is an option.) Win-win-win-win.
Smoothie Guidelines (“borrowed” from Nancy Clark and the back of the frozen fruit bag)
1 c frozen fruit
1 container of yogurt
2 yogurt containers of liquid (I use 1 part juice and 1 part water)
This is where the laziness comes in — since I’m already going to have to wash the blender (yuck), I try to avoid adding anything else to my “things to wash” list. Measuring cups? Pshaw! I start with a cup of frozen fruit measured by the lines on the blender. Then, I add a banana and the single-serving size container of yogurt. I fill the yogurt container up once with water and once with juice, and then hit blend. Ahhh, deliciousness. You can use any frozen fruit/yogurt/juice you want. You could even use milk instead of yogurt, or skip the dairy entirely by increasing the water or juice. My favorite at the moment is a Tropical Smoothie. There’s a bag of frozen fruit at Target that has pineapple, mango, and strawberries. Add a banana, some strawberry yogurt, and some orange juice…it is good. Very, very good.