It's been a MONTH since my last blog post. I'm so sorry for taking such a long hiatus, but I needed it. December was a crazy month! Work was really busy, I was spending a lot of time (and money) Christmas shopping, and I picked up some freelance work to make some extra money. Plus, the weekends were filled with family and friends and parties and PLENTY of snacks and drinks that shouldn't even be mentioned on Lighter Bites - oops. Dieting is HARD around the holidays, you guys! But the new year is here and with it, a time to start fresh.
Speaking of fresh, THIS SMOOTHIE.
I may not strike you as a smoothie kind of girl, and you'd be right. This is new to me. I've had them in the past, but it was never a regular thing for me. But now? With this smoothie? Yes please.
Let me back up. The path that led me to create this smoothie wasn't so straightforward. First, I've probably mentioned here that I'm a member of Weight Watchers. I've had a lot of success with this program in the past. I'd say I strictly follow the program 80% of the time - the other 20% (usually on weekends) I allow myself some leeway, such as an extra snack or drink. Well, Weight Watchers revamped their program last year - you'll see my recipes now list the Smart Points value instead of the PointsPlus value. I'm still figuring the Smart Points out, but a lot of the things I eat regularly have gone up.
Another factor: I don't eat breakfast at home. It's just not realistic for me. I get up early, get ready, and rush to make the train every day. In the past, I'd keep oatmeal packets in my desk at work and make one with hot water around 9:30 every morning. If you know anything about oatmeal, you know it's easy and convenient - and not very filling. I'd be satisfied for a couple of hours, but my stomach would start rumbling for lunch before noon.
The oatmeal I usually eat went from 4 PointsPlus to 5 Smart Points. I didn't feel like spending 5 of my daily points on something so small and unsatisfying, so I began brainstorming different ideas for breakfast.
The criteria? It needed to be easy. Healthy. Satisfying. Something I could prepare at home in advance and bring with me. And ideally, no more than 4 Smart Points.
I thought a green smoothie may be a good idea. I was never a regular smoothie drinker, but I did a juice fast before my wedding and it did not end well. I was all gung-ho to go 10 days on juice only, but after 3 days I just couldn't stomach the juices that tasted like vegetables. Smoothies are different - green smoothies, at least the ones I've tried, are FULL of veggies (like spinach) but you can't even taste it. Bonus!
The hard part was perfecting the smoothie. I've tried recipes that were Greek-yogurt based, but I don't think I could drink this every day. First of all, Green yogurt can be bland, and when it's overpowering everything else in the smoothie it just tastes thick and blah. Plus, too much yogurt equals higher Smart Points.
So I turned to Google and searched for "green smoothies with spinach." (Spinach is my green of choice for smoothies - I know kale is super trendy right now, but I have not been able to jump on that bandwagon. I just don't like it that much, you guys.) I read through a bunch of the results, and it seemed that a lot of green smoothies had the same few ingredients in common:
- a banana (frozen or not)
- a nut milk
Then, depending on the smoothie, other extra ingredients were added in. So I started my smoothie with those three ingredients and played around with quantities and add-ins. I've been wanting to experiment with vanilla protein powder for a while, so I decided to see if I could figure out a way to work it into my smoothie.
WELL. After a few failed attempts (nothing inedible, thank goodness, because I still drank the ones that didn't make it here), I came up with a green smoothie that I really, really like. I've been back to work for a week since the holidays and I've brought a smoothie for breakfast every day. I plan to do the same this week. And hopefully for many weeks to come (#newyearnewme, right?).
And did I mention it's filling? My stomach hasn't started growling for lunch until after 1:00 all week long.
I really hope you like these! If you're looking for a quick, easy, delicious, and filling breakfast that you can prepare in advance, this smoothie is for you.
- 1 1/4 cups unsweetened vanilla-flavored nut milk (I use Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Cashew mix, vanilla flavor)
- 2 cups baby spinach (or 2 large handfuls)
- 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (I use 100% Natural Only Protein)
- 2 tbsp plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp PB2 powdered peanut butter (mixed with 1 tbsp water)
- 1 banana, frozen
Serving size: 1 smoothie
Weight Watchers Smart Points value: 4
- Add all ingredients to a blender and liquefy. Serve immediately, or refrigerate overnight and enjoy for breakfast.
- I read that putting the liquid (the milk) into the blender first helps the blades move and not get stuck, so I recommend doing that.
- The banana doesn't have to be frozen, but freezing it beforehand helps give the smoothie a thicker consistency. I like to peel a bunch of bananas and put them in a Ziplock in my freezer so I can grab one when I need it.
- If you're planning on drinking this immediately, try adding 2 or 3 ice cubes to the blender to make the smoothie extra cool and delicious.