Tuesday, June 3, 2014

UltraVeggie Smoothie Awards

For my inaugural improvement of the month I decided to challenge myself with manufacturing 20 new to me smoothie recipes throughout the month of May. I am always interested in improving my nutrition and I reckoned being well versed in the preparation of smoothies is a step in the right direction. Am I a master smoothie maker now? Hardly, but I did learn a lot and have a solid idea of what else I want to try in the future to adapt some of the current recipes to my taste preferences.

Among other things my self imposed smoothie ninja apprenticeship taught me that smoothies are meals. I always kind of scoffed at that idea, but many of the recipes I tried had plenty of wholesome ingredients and made me feel satiated for hours.
I was also quite impressed how many ingredients such as greens, ground flaxseeds or avocado,  you can "hide" in any given recipe without it being too dominant in taste.

I did use some recipes from the internet, borrowed books from the library, followed 2 different smoothie formulas and made some recipes up myself. Some recipes were simple, some more complex, but there are many different ways to end up with a tasty healthy smoothie.

High speed blenders seem to be the talk of the town right now. Throughout this project however my $ 50 department store blender impressed me time and time again. Would a $ 600 machine have produced smoother smoothies? Probably, but as I said I was thoroughly pleased with the results of my entry level machine.

I rated the taste and nutritional value of each smoothie I made on a scale from 1-5 with 5 being the best possible rating. I furthermore decided to double the taste score, because regardless how good the finished product might be for your overall well-being you want it first and foremost to taste good. Therefore the best possible score is 15 points (5 points for taste times 2 plus 5 points for nutritional value). I realize that both values are very individual since everybody's taste, nutritional needs and the perception of the nutritional value of the ingredients will vary.

For an extra boost of protein I used hemp seeds rather than an isolated protein powder. It's up to you to omit this ingredient or substitute your personal favourite protein instead.

Road trip without my blender. I had to outsource the smoothie making.
Shamrock smoothie at the Glover Street Market in Twisp.

The Awards


Best Smoothie Formula

I found 2 smoothie formulas for my recipes. The formulas are great starting point if you like to experiment, but you are not ready to work without any kind of guidelines.

The winner for this category is the Green Smoothie 101 from simplegreensmoothies.com. It is the more foolproof of the two formulas I used.

At it`s heart is the combination of 2 cups of greens, 2 cups of liquid and 3 cups of fruit, plus added ingredients to supercharge the smoothie.

The best result I achieved so far with the simple green smoothie formula is this:

Green Smoothie 101 Sample

Taste: 3.75 Nutritional Value: 4.5 Total Score: 12

2cups of greens:
1 cup kale
1 cup spinach

2 cups of liquid:
1 cup water
1 cup coconut water

3 cups of fruit:
1/2 avocado
1 kiwi
1 medium sized apple of your choice (I like gala or ambrosia)
1 banana
3/4 cup blueberries

Boost it with:
3 tbsp hemp seeds
1 tbsp ground flax seeds

Start by blending the liquid and the greens, before adding the remaining ingredients.

My No Meat Athlete Smoothie Formula sample smoothie,
which clearly needs a cooler name.

No Meat Athlete Smoothie Formula Sample

Taste: 4 Nutritional Value: 3.75 Total Score: 11.75

1 soft fruit:
1 banana

2 handfuls of frozen fruit:
2 handfuls of frozen blueberries

2-4 tbsp of protein powder:
3 tbsp of hemp seeds

2 tbsp of binder:
2 tbsp of almond butter

1.5 tbsp of oil:
1.5 tbsp of coconut oil

1.5 cups of liquid:
1.5 cups of almond milk

1 tbsp of sweetener (optional):
1 tbsp of agave syrup

Superfoods , greens and other ingredients:
2 tbsp of cacao nibs
1 tsp of cinnamon
6 ice cubes (optional)

I suggest you use either formula as a guideline until you become confident enough to create your own recipes.

Best 30 Second blenderless Smoothie

Taste: 3 Nutritional Value: 5 Total Score: 11

1 pouch of baby food (banana, blueberry is my favourite, but pick whatever flavor you like)
1 cup of water
1 scoop of Vega One berry flavor

Mix all ingredients in a glass or a shaker bottle.

Tip:
Add the Vega One after the water or else you will have trouble getting the powder on the bottom of your glass to dissolve.

Best Own Creation

UltraVeggie Delight

Taste: 3.75 Nutritional Value: 4.5 Total Score: 12


1 banana
1 medium sized apple of your choice (I like gala or ambrosia)
1 mango
1/2 cup of blueberries
2 tbsp of flax oil
6 ice cubes
3 tbsp of hemp seeds
3 leaves of black kale
1/2 avocado

Just blend and enjoy.

Best Smoothie for Junior UltraVeggies

Taste: 3.75 Nutritional Value: 3.75 Total Score: 11.25

1 1/2 cup strawberries
1 mango
1 banana
3/4 cup of coconut water
6 ice cubes
1 tsp of maple syrup (optional)

Out of the more than 20 smoothie recipes which I tried throughout the month of May this is pretty much the only one that both my kids liked. If you are feeling adventurous try to sneak some ground flax seeds - or other ingredients that boost the nutritional value - into the drink and see if they will still like it.

Bonus Recipe

Angie's Carrot Creation

Taste: 3.75 Nutritional Value: 3.75 Total Score: 11.25

1/2 cup packed shredded carrots
1 mango (we really like mangoes it seems like, we usually use Ataulfo mangoes)
3/4 cup of coconut water
1/2 cup of orange juice
1 tbsp of lemon juice

Just blend and enjoy.

Another creation in the making.


Links to more great Smoothies

Nice Chocolate Avocado Recovery Smoothie
Taste: 4 Nutritional Value: 3.75 (Maybe higher if you have it post workout) Total Score: 11.75

Oh She Glows Green Warrior Protein Smoothie
Taste: 3.75 Nutritional Value: 5 Total Score: 12.5

Oh my Veggies Pineapple Coconut Vitamin C Smootie
Taste: 3.75 Nutritional Value: 4 Total Score: 11.5

Healthy Blender Recipes Vegan Chocolate Spinach Shake
Taste: 4 Nutritional Value: 3.75 Total Score: 11.75

One Green Planet Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie
Taste: 3.75 Nutritional Value: 4.25 Total Score: 11.75
I used soy milk and a little extra maple syrup.



Here is the look ahead at my upcoming Improvement of the Month projects. I would be thrilled if you felt compelled to join me in my quest for more strength and flexibility staring on June 1st. If you do, let me know about your progress and challenges throughout the month, so we can commiserate ... I mean encourage each other.


June:

I will finally be more consistent about incorporating strength and stretching exercises into my routine.
I vow to strength train at least 2 times a week for a total of at least 90 min per week and stretch at least 3 times a week for a total of at least 60 min per week . Not huge numbers, but I am shooting for consistency here rather than a one time effort. This change shall be implemented permanently. I will share some of the exercises I subject myself to with you on my blog, but I always welcome new ideas for home or outdoor based core and strength workouts or stretching routines.

July:

I will be an UltraVeggie activist this month.
In the month of July I will take action by signing petitions, inquiring at companies and in stores about vegan friendly products and choices and generally promote a plant-based conscious lifestyle. I will take action a total of 31 times during July or on average once a day.

Happy Trails,

Marc Schmitz