I’m in two minds about smoothies.
On the one hand, they contain a boatload of nutritious ingredients and can be prepared in a flash — that’s all great.
But on the other, they tend to lead to rushed breakfasts and mindless eating. I mean, who hasn’t slurped their smoothie in the car or in front of their computer? Not only is mindless eating “un-Mediterranean,” it can also cause digestive upset and make meals less satisfying (and when we’re not satisfied, we tend to want to eat more…).
Nonetheless, I will share my smoothie recipe with you if you promise me you’ll sit down at a table (not a desk or driver’s seat), sip it slowly and savor its flavors, aromas, color, texture. Yes, you can find those 5 minutes!
The reason I’m such a fan of this breakfast — which I myself eat at least twice a week — is that it’s quick and easy to prepare and contains pretty much everything the body needs:
- A substantial serving of protein, which keeps you full until lunch and helps stabilize blood glucose levels and mood
- Healthy plant and animal fats, ditto re. satiety and mood
- Fiber to help regulate bowel health and feed our gut bacteria (more mood benefits!)
- Probiotics, those very bacteria, which play countless beneficial roles in our bodies (mood-enhancement, anyone?)
- Anti-inflammatory compounds in berries, fermented dairy, nut butter and avocado (yes, that too — inflammation is linked to depression)
It’s versatile, too: You can vary yogurts and kefirs (vegans can use cashew yogurt, for example, and if you’re lactose-intolerant you can use lactose-free kefir and yogurt), fruits (stick to the low-glycemic ones that don’t spike your blood sugar: all berries, peaches and apricots) and fats (I alternate between avocado, almond butter and walnut or olive oil). These are all classically Mediterranean ingredients.
If your mornings are crazy-busy you can prepare this the night before, pour it into a leak-proof container (Mason jar or protein-shaker bottle), store it in the fridge and grab it on your way out the door the next morning. And if you’re tired and depleted by health issues or other disasters, you’ll love how little energy this recipe takes.
Lastly, did I mention it’s delicious? Creamy, tangy, fruity — a delight for the taste buds. And, unlike so many commercial drinking yogurts, this smoothie is free from artificial colorings and flavorings (unless you count vanilla or almond extracts — which you’re welcome to omit if you prefer) and added sugar. If you’re not used to the tartness of unsweetened yogurt, you can start out by adding a smidgen of maple syrup or non-glycemic sweeteners like stevia or erythritol and wean yourself off them over time.
- 1/2 cup whole, plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup whole, plain kefir
- 1 serving hemp protein powder I like Wilderness Poets' hemp protein powder
- 5 oz strawberries, frozen This is equivalent to about 1 cup. Can be replaced with 5 oz ripe peach, nectarine, apricot or mixed berries (frozen).
- 2 tbsp unsweetened almond butter Can be replaced with 1/4 ripe avocado, 1/4 cup walnut halves or 1 tbsp olive, walnut, hazelnut or almond oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract optional; I use vanilla with berries; when I use stone fruit like peaches, nectarines or apricots, I add a few drops almond extract)
- If using frozen berries, place these in a ceramic or glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.
- Combine berries, yogurt, kefir, protein powder, nut butter (or avocado, walnuts or oil -- whichever using) and vanilla extract in a high-powered blender. Seal lid tightly and process for about a minute until you obtain a smooth, creamy liquid. Add 2-3 ice cubes if you want the drink to be refreshingly cold.
- Pour into serving glass if drinking right-away or transfer to a protein shaker bottle if you're traveling. If you make this in advance, keep well chilled.