Banana Nut Spinach Breakfast Smoothie

Yesterday’s smoothie was so disgusting that I refuse to share it with you. In a disappointed and gagging manner, I drank nearly the whole thing.

Blegch!

I made up for the nastiness today with my…

Banana Nut Spinach Breakfast Smoothie

Banana Nut Spinach Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 handful organic spinach
  • 1 medium organic banana
  • 6 strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 organic broccoli florets, stems removed
  • 1 spoonful-ish almond butter
  • 1 smaller spoonful-ish ground flax seed
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup almond milk

Directions
Blend and enjoy!

The taste of this smoothie surprised me! I almost expected it to taste a little green-y because of the spinach and broccoli, but my pallet only picks up the banana and the almond butter. Super delicious plus super nutritious!

I changed the look of my blog! What do you think? It was the same for so long, I thought it was about time for a change.

Pomaveggie Spinach Breakfast Smoothie

Naming my spinach breakfast smoothie this morning was difficult.

When you make a smoothie with several berries, you have a “berry” smoothie. When you make a smoothie with oranges and grapefruit, you have a “citrus” smoothie. When you make a smoothie with peanut butter… well… you get the idea.

What do you have when you make a smoothie with apples and pears?

fleshy smoothie?

Gross, no.

So I looked it up. Apples and pears are part of the pome family of fruits. Hence!

Apple-Pear-Spinach Breakfast Smoothie

Pomaveggie Spinach Breakfast Smoothie (a.k.a. Swamp Thing)

Ingredients

  • 1 handful organic spinach, chopped
  • 1 organic apple, peeled
  • 1 organic pear, peeled
  • 3 organic broccoli florets, stems removed
  • 1 cup organic orange-carrot juice
  • 1 spoonful-ish ground flax seed

Directions
Blend and enjoy what I describe as nearly-the-same taste and texture of applesauce!

I searched the grocery store for carrot juice. I don’t have a juicer, and carrots don’t really… blend. Couldn’t find simple carrot juice without fruit in it so orange-carrot juice it is.

I can only do so much.

Organic Orange-Carrot Juice

However, the next time I have to peel apples and pears, I’m doing this.

Strawberry-Broccoli Spinach Breakfast Smoothie

I eat a cup of Greek yogurt with granola nearly every morning.

Eating the same breakfast gets boring so some mornings I cave to cravings for something different and get… Pop-Tarts… out of the vending machine.

Bad, Shae. Pop-Tarts are bad… except, maybe, these hand pies. They look both delicious and adorable.

One of my coworkers comes to work every morning with a smoothie, filled with fruits and greens, for breakfast, which has inspired me to update my breakfast routine.

So I tried to mimic my healthy coworker and bring a smoothie to work for breakfast but kept running out of time in the morning. A cup of yogurt and granola are so easy to grab when you’re in a rush.

So I took some inspiration from the Lean Green Bean and did a Sunday Smoothie Prep!

Sunday Smoothie Preparation for the Week

Sunday Smoothie Preparation for the Week

I pre-prepared my weekly smoothies on Sunday for quick and easy morning preparations!

I chopped up spinach, broccoli, apples and pears, mixed them with frozen fruits, almond butter, ground flax seed and a variety of Greek yogurts.

Yes. Broccoli. I knew you were thinking it.

Broccoli is my favorite green food. I ate nearly half a pound (I’m not joking) of raw broccoli on Thursday.

Over the next five days, I will share my spinach smoothie recipes!

Strawberry-Broccoli Spinach Smoothie

STRAWBERRY-BROCCOLI SPINACH SMOOTHIE

Ingredients

  • 1 handful organic spinach, chopped
  • 3 organic broccoli florets, stems removed
  • 6 strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 spoonful organic almond butter
  • 1 smaller spoonful of ground flax seed
  • 1 cup-ish organic almond milk
  • 3 oz. vanilla Greek yogurt

Directions
Blend until smooth… smooth-ish. I have spinach and broccoli chunks in mine… (I need a Vitamix!)

Now, even though broccoli is loaded full of nutrients in seriously high doses even in relatively small servings, I know there are people (like my husband) who hate broccoli.

Sub another handful of spinach, some baby spinach, kale or carrot juice and reap the vitamins and minerals you need without the broccoli you hate.

(But you should seriously try the broccoli. You can barely taste it.)

Bet you can lose weight with DietBet

My motivators are not always healthy motivators.

For example, my motivator in my professional life is my want to be successful. I want success. Why is passion for my career unhealthy? Because I often let it take over other aspects of my life. “I’m working” is an often-uttered phrase even when I’m “off the clock.” I manage all things social media at work so I check Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis… when I’m not at work. It’s hard for me to detach.

My motivators to lose weight, eat right and exercise are not clear.

I want to eat right, but I also want to eat French fries.

HomefriesI want to exercise, but I don’t want to spend money on a gym membership, and I have very little desire to work out in my living room.

Index cards with workouts to take to the gym or on a run

I want to lose weight, but it was easier to buy a new pair of jeans instead of melt away the inches that prevent me from buttoning my old jeans.

My healthy motivators are not strong motivators if I can defeat them with cravings, laziness and new jeans.

But there is something that motivates me to accomplish nearly anything…

…and it’s money.

Greed shines in the heart motivated by money, but I guess I can be greedy for weight loss, and DietBet makes it possible.

DietBet is a social dieting game in which players bet they can lose a certain amount of weight within a certain time frame, and players put their money down as commitment. While the website, DietBetter.com, claims that the game isn’t about making money, I’m only attracted to the game because of the opportunity to win big.

There must be a gambler living in my heart.

When I stumbled across DietBet in December by way of a Women’s Health Magazine article: Get Paid to Lose Weight, I immediately wanted to join the game.

Lose weight? Get paid? Um, yes.

The Transformer, the game I considered (and am stilling considering) joining, starts January 7, lasts six months and requires a $25/month bet.

DietBet screenshot

I’m not an impulsive person, which is probably why I’m not a gambler, so I went through all the fine print and made some calculations to see if it was worth the $150 investment. I calculated that the most I could win would be about $132. And that’s before the company takes its percentage. In order to “win big,” other people have to fail at losing weight.

And that made me sad in my heart.

I don’t want to bet that I can lose weight while secretly hoping other people fail so I can make money! Which might be why DietBet isn’t supposed to be about the money. It’s supposed to be about the community.

Looking at the game from the perspective of a social dieting platform, it resembles something like Weight Watchers, and it makes my heart a little less greedy and a lot less sad.

I am still considering joining The Transformer, but my thriftiness and inability to wish failure on others will likely prevail, and I’ll have to find some other motivator stronger than the pull of an unbeatable craving to lose weight.

What are your weight loss motivators? Have you ever participated in a DietBet game? What were your experiences?

Countries across the pond eat more and weigh less

Husband and I are moving.

Probably to Italy. Maybe France.

He doesn’t know yet.

I dream of living, dining and drinking under the Tuscan sun or along the river Seine. Uncorking wine bottles for my daily fitness, eating pasta and homemade tomato sauce for lunch and dinner every day and desserting on gelato well past my bedtime. And I have no intention of gaining a single pound!

Doesn’t that sound dreamy?

I could die living life like that in America!

I am not in La La Land, and my head is not in the clouds. This dream is not a dream.

According to MensHealth, countries across the pond eat more and weigh less. European countries like Italy and France do not have the high obesity rate ruining American health. These countries do not struggle with portion size and don’t have as many problems with processed food and empty calories like America struggles.

But, why?

In order to find the truth, I have decided to leave my homeland and explore foreign cuisine. I am going undercover in Europe! Who wants to fund my trip? In the name of investigative reporting, of course. Anyone? Any takers? Please… No one, then? Oh, fine.

I guess I’ll just do as the Americans do, and Google it! (I went to college. I know Google. We’re besties.)

SIGH.

According to the MensHeath article, Spaniards eat slowly, taking their time with each bite. Italians avoid processed food (and I am a sinner eating pasta sauce from a jar). The French, much like the entirety of Europe, do not eat in front of a television. Meal time is a respected tradition: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Of course, European countries are not the only nations eating real, whole food and keeping their figures trim. According to a Diets In Review editorial intern, southeast Asian fare is better than the Chinese takeout most Americans are used to.

I should know.

I snarfed down Great Wall’s Chicken and Broccoli with fried rice (not ALL of it) Monday night, and I am still feeling the after effects.

Ah, hindsight, you devious fiend!

Comparing my eating habits to those of the individuals living in European countries identifies a jarring reality. struggle with portion control. don’t get the nutrients I need from the often processed foods I eat. eat in front of the television… and I don’t even have cable to distract! (But I do own every season of Charmed.)

From now on, I am going to make a conscious effort to control my portion sizes, eat less processed foods and stay away from television when food is in my hand.

I am also going to stop fearing food.

Another little tidbit in the MensHealth article: in other countries, people respect food. I fear almost every calorie I eat and drink, but I don’t have to.

What are some of the most insightful things you have learned from foreign cuisine? Please share so that we, too, can learn for our neighbors.

How to make healthy food taste good

I am an aspiring cook.

I enjoy chopping, dicing, mixing, spicing, saucing, baking, roasting, grilling… All the -ings. You know?

Unfortunately, I am also aspiring to lose a little weight so I have been chopping and dicing healthy meals.

Problem? It is HARD to make healthy food taste good, which is probably caused by my taste buds being accustomed to added salt, fat and other bad-for-me deliciousness.

Who doesn’t looooove French fries?

Because of my tainted tasters, a regular old bell pepper doesn’t seem to make my recipes work. A simple tomato, balsamic vinegar and a touch of homemade chili powder… I am not getting the flavor I need when I make healthful, full of nutrient meals.

And nothing is worse than eating something that tastes like cardboard simply because it’s good for me.

EatingWell’s test kitchen put together cooking tips to make our favorite foods healthier, and I am putting my faith in them that their tips will make my food taste good, too. I summed up a few I liked.

Tip #3: Get crispy fried chicken in the oven

When I was 16, I waited tables at the only sit-down restaurant in my home town. Our specialty? Fried chicken. Having grown up in that town, working at that restaurant and eating that chicken… I love fried chicken. Who doesn’t? It’s just like French fries.

Husband and I have tried and failed to oven fry chicken. Every attempt has been just a bit off so that the chicken is almost inedible. We ate it. Begrudgingly.

The test kitchen advised dipping the chicken in milk, buttermilk or egg, dredging in seasoned flour or breadcrumbs, and then spraying with canola or olive oil cooking spray. The last step might be the step we were missing. Who knows how important spray can be? We also might not have had the oven hot enough. The test kitchen advised to bake at 425-450 degrees F. I think we’ve only gone as high as 400.

Tip #4: Add flavor without adding salt

My husband and I are cooks with the belief that salt is a wonderful ingredient. Without salt, meat isn’t even worth cooking and certainly not worth eating. I will never take the salt away from my meat.

The salt can come right out of the other food I cook, though, especially if I can get flavor from anything else. The test kitchen advised to add flavor with lemon and lime or fresh herbs. I don’t know which recipes I can add lemon and lime to, but I think now is a good time to start my indoor herb garden.

Tip #9: Add grains and vegetables to meaty dishes

My husband has already implemented this tip into one of our favorite meals: turkey burgers. He adds red and green bell peppers and jalapeno to the meat before cooking, and then we load on onions and tomatoes like people who enjoy bad breath.

The test kitchen advised, though, to add at least three-fourths of a cup of grains, such as brown rice, and vegetables, such as mushrooms, for every pound of meat.

Bonus: If we shmoosh the mushrooms, and then stuff them in our meatloaf, we might actually be able to eat them. Otherwise, they are disgusting.

The test kitchen’s other tips are basic tips to reduce calories and fat, such as reducing the amount of oil we cook with and removing the cheese from our meals. (Getting rid of cheese is easy for me.)

How do you make your healthy meals flavorful? How do you escape the bland without adding calories, fat and sodium?

I need all the help I can get.

Sweeteners for a healthy New Year

I stopped drinking Diet Coke because it is sweetened with aspartame, which is an artificial sugar. I read that artificial sweeteners can cause weight gain by raising glucose levels in the body, which prompts the liver to turn excess glucose into body fat.

Problem: EVERYTHING has artificial sweetener. Coffee creamer, chewing gum, cough drops, yummy chocolate, applesauce… It is the most impossible thing to avoid.

Here’s another problem: I want to lose weight so I have to cut real sugar out of my diet. Not completely out, but I have to eat less of it. The hard part is that real sugar (in its many different forms) is also in everything. Ketchup, salad dressing, yummy chocolate again…

Ugh.

I am on a quest to satisfy my very rare sweet tooth without rotting out my teeth out or adding to my waist line.

Honey is one of my favorite sugar substitutes. Raw honey is best because it isn’t filtered or heated. Heating honey causes the healthy enzymes to break down and not really work. I have yet to substitute honey for sugar in any recipes, but it has become a regular addition to my first morning coffee. One tablespoon of raw honey contains about 60 calories, but I have never needed a whole tablespoon to sweeten my coffee. I use approximately a drop.

Maple syrup is another sweet option, which I am considering substituting for sugar in my baked goods. The straight-from-the-tree sap is sweeter than sugar with fewer calories and with more antioxidants and minerals than honey. According to Crown Maple Syrup, featured in an article on Women’s Health Magazine, Grade B Maple Syrup is the best to use for cooking and baking. For my love of maple syrup, I would gladly substitute it in place of sugar in all future baking.

And have you ever had Crown Royal Maple Finish? It tastes like breakfast. I love.

I will cut granulated sugar from my diet by swapping in honey and maple syrup in my morning coffee and in the sauces I make to add flavor to my meat dishes, such a honey mustard sauce I use on fish and pork and the steak sauce I have yet to make.

I will sugar, in general, out of my diet by making my own salad dressing, marinara sauce and ketchup. I have already mastered a tasty Italian vinaigrette (recipe coming!), and I will make my own ketchup and marinara sauce as soon as I run out of the stuff I have. No need to be wasteful.

How do you cut sugar out of your diet? Find more natural sweeteners from Prevention Magazine.