Morning Coffee Break

How do you spend your mornings before work?

Morning Coffee Break

As I tend to be more of a night owl, my mornings are usually a bit rushed. I hit snooze a time or two too many, and the next thing I know, I’m running behind, often rushing out the door with a meager breakfast bar for eats.

I’ve recently learned that two of my tech friends who I really respect and look up to have a weekly, if not daily, habit of visiting a local coffee shop. They use these morning coffee breaks to relax, reflect, plan, and be creative.

Morning Coffee Break

I met one of my friends for a pre-work latte (and slice of quiche) the other day, and it was such a nice way to start the day. I thought about how great it was to catch up, and how it would be good to do that more often and to see more friends. I wondered if a morning wouldn’t be a better time than 11pm to write a blog post for The Chic Life. And all that has me thinking even more that I’m doing things wrong in the morning. If I could just wake up a little earlier, I could enjoy such a break, too.

On top of this, I’ve heard tips from others about spending a few minutes each day planning out the days to-dos and appointments. Not only would I feel more prepared for the day, but I think I’d feel more confident and organized, too. And then there’s the obvious bonus of not feeling like I’m pressed for time and having a few minutes to make a quick breakfast.

It’s definitely food for thought. Guess I’ll have to work on getting to bed earlier, too!

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Thirsty for more? Here’s a great article from the Harvard Business Review about the two lists you should review every morning (click to view).

Do you rush around or do you have a nice mooring routine down?

My Balanced Approach to Clean Eating

Since I’m planning to blog a little bit more about healthy living, I thought it was important to share where I am these days, specifically around diet. And by “diet,” I mean my “diet” as in what I eat. Although I totally understand that diets are very effective for some people, I’ve learned that they don’t work for me. I’ve struggled with restrictive eating in the past, so I choose to focus on a more open approach. For the last couple of years, I’ve turned my attention towards eating clean, which I like for many reasons. For starters, clean eating reminds me of the way my dad encouraged us to eat growing up. He was always big on avoiding processed foods, growing our own vegetables, and supporting local farmers. I also like how clean eating is pretty simple, flexible, and tends to focus on the positives of healthy eating – enjoying beautiful, whole foods that make you feel great.

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My approach to clean eating is a non-restrictive strategy that balances choosing whole, organic, local foods with everyday stress, money considerations, and a busy schedule.

If time and money were no object, I’d eat clean, locally-grown, organic food all the time. I’d grow my own vegetables, have my own chickens in the backyard, and shop the farmer’s market daily. I’d make everything from scratch. Chicken broth à la Ina Garten? Done! Homemade gnocchi à la Mario Batali? Done! Grind my own wheat to make bread? Well, maybe I wouldn’t take things quite that far.

But, I’m a busy, working woman with one too many hobbies on her hands. I’m in the office Monday – Friday at my 9-to-5, and after hours, I teach Zumba, blog, and am trying to re-learn how to program. Did I mention that I’m so not independently wealthy? So, I’m constantly trying to balance my schedule and money with my desire to eat clean, local, and organic food.

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I’ve done the extremes…on both ends. I’ve eaten almost all processed foods (from fast food to even when I was even eating in), and then I’ve eaten almost no processed foods. I’ve found that I’m not happy with either extreme. I probably ate the most processed foods during or just after college, and since then, I’ve worked my way towards eating more and more clean. But, there was a time I went too far…at least, too far for me.

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Spending too much time and money to eat clean became overly stressful. It made me reach a point where I almost wanted to give up. Have you been there? Where you find yourself thinking, “I just can’t do this…why do I even try?” When you find yourself wanting to quit, you may have just pushed yourself to an extreme. Instead of quitting, I believe you have to find the level of clean eating that works for you…and by works for you, I mean, the level that makes you happy and has you enjoying eating clean.

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To me, the key to happiness with clean eating is striking a balance between eating as clean as possible and not driving yourself crazy by being too prescriptive. I just don’t see things as black and white. It’s not eat processed food or eat clean. I don’t think to enjoy eating clean that you have to eat clean 100% of the time. I think there are levels. Over time, I try to work towards eating more and more clean and I try to make the best decision possible on a daily basis. Though I prefer to not use them, I do use some processed foods. It’s just that over time, even my processed foods have become more clean. The trick is paying attention to the labels and learning how to check and read them so you can make the best choice for you. I have an upcoming post with some label-reading shortcuts for busy people, so hopefully, some of you will find that helpful.

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My everyday approach to clean eating:

  1. First and foremost – strive for doing your best, not being perfect. No rules. No restrictions. I just focus on doing the best I can at any given time. I try to eat as clean as possible, but I don’t beat myself up about not being perfect.
  2. When time/schedule/money allows, make things from scratch using whole (unprocessed) foods/ingredients. Bonus points for using organic and/or local ingredients!
  3. If you need help, take as little as possible. if you can grill some chicken and steam some broccoli but just need a little help, then a box of rice pilaf can go a long way. Or if you want to make soup with fresh, local vegetables but don’t have time to make your own vegetable broth (Who does?! If you do, make me some!), then use a boxed broth. It will still be 10 times better than cracking open a can of soup.
  4. If you use processed ingredients, make the best choice you can find and afford. Not all processed foods are equally processed or are the same by level of quality. One box of macaroni and cheese is not the same as the other. Canned beans can vary greatly, as can boxes of vegetable broth. Learn how to read ingredient lists, and pick the cleanest you can.
  5. If someone else makes it, it can still be clean. I like to take a little help from grocery stores with similar eating philosophies to mine. Whole Foods, Earthfare, Healthy Home Market, and local health food stores often offer prepared foods. I’ve gotten pre-made chicken salad and put it on Great Harvest bread and called it a day for lunch. Yea, I didn’t pluck any of it from the ground, but I look at it as them making food the same way I would, I just paid for the time-savings and their expertise.

Any other clean eats enthusiasts out there? What’s your approach to clean eating?

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Perfect Eating is an Illusion – Be a Qualitarian

Vegetarian, flexitarian, vegan, carnivore, pescatarian…there are many words to describe the way people eat.

I finally found a word that accurately describes my eating style: Qualitarian

One of the best things about this style is that it can be combined with others. You could be a Vegetarian Qualitarian or a Carnivore Qualitarian. It’s a simple, but effective concept and one that I’ve followed for awhile now, though I never had a single word to describe it.

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I discovered the above snippet in my January/February 2013 copy of Vegetarian Times. I know it’s April, and I’m a little late sharing, but better late than never, right?

In case the the above photo gets broken or isn’t view-able for some reason, it’s a photo of a snippet from the magazine, and it reads:

Be a Qualitarian: “The best change you can make in the New Year is to become a qualitarian,” says Ashley Koff, RD, founder of the ashleykoffapproved.com (AKA) Stamp of Quality Nutrition. “That means making the better-quality choice – note, I never say best quality – for everything you put in your body.” Aspiring to eat perfectly all the time isn’t practical, but in most situations, there’s a better choice, she says: “For example, if you’re at a convenience store grabbing something on the go, that could mean buying water, unsalted nuts, and a piece of fruit. If the fruit isn’t organic, aim for organic next time.”

This pretty much describes my eating style from the last couple years to the present. I like to say, “it’s about choosing the better choice…not the perfect one.” But, it hasn’t always been this way.

I have perfectionist tendencies, so I used to beat myself up about not getting things just right. I found that this type of thinking led me down a negative path that was not conducive to my goal of healthy living. Worrying about not making the perfect choice was stressful and would sometimes make me feel more like quitting than moving forward.

“Perfection is an illusion. Imperfection is beautiful.” -Tanya Beardsley

When I started focusing on a more positive approach, thinking about making better choices instead of perfect ones, I really started feeling more confident and happy about healthy eating. Mostly, when I started focusing on choosing better over perfect, I found a certain sense of freedom…like the weight of perfection had been lifted. It was wonderful.

We all have different budgets, time constraints, and resources available. What works for one person may or may not work for the next. Personally, I strive to eat clean, local, and organic food, but I take help from processed foods sometimes and I definitely don’t eat 100% local and organic. Do I beat myself up for eating boxed mac and cheese? Nope. Not any more. But, I do try to purchase the ones with cleaner ingredient lists. To me, this choice is better in two ways. It’s better than eating a more processed version, but mostly, it’s better than giving up completely and just getting fast food. Grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and boxed mac and cheese > fast food

Bottom line – my current eating strategy is to do what I can, focus on the positive, and make the better choice. Yup, I’m definitely a Qualitarian, and I’m loving it.

What better choices have you made recently?

Overcoming 5 Common Workout Obstacles

Raise your hand if you made a New Year’s Resolution and/or goal related to getting your fitness back on track. It’s so much easier said than done, right? I know what you’re thinking. But, Diana, you don’t get it because you’re all crazy about Zumba and you’re a Zumba instructor…so, yea, you don’t understand. Trust me, it hasn’t always been this way.

I struggled hard during and post-college to get into shape. Between eating poorly (hello, fast food!) and rarely working out, I wasn’t in my healthiest state. I won’t go into the full story, but it took me about 4 years after graduating (almost 8 years after stopping training as an ice skater) to find something that worked. I tried common workouts like walking, running, and using cardio machines at the gym. They all felt too much like work, and I was very unmotivated to continue. I went on a brief yoga stint (loved it!) until I hurt my wrist. And then, in 2007, I finally found Zumba. What clicked for me was that Zumba reminded me a bit of skating. I love how I don’t really feel like I’m working out when I do Zumba. Instead of focusing on the workout, I focused on the choreography and other (more fun) distractions. After taking classes for about 3 years, I became an instructor in 2010, and I’ve been having a blast ever since.

I don’t consider myself a fitness/exercise expert, which is why I rarely blog about fitness. But, I was browsing through my latest Real Simple when I stumbled upon an article called The Workout Whisperer by Dimity McDowell. In the article McDowell gives solutions to common exercise obstacles. I found myself reading each headline and then thinking about the advice I would give. Then, I’d read what McDowell wrote. I thought it was interesting that I thought of some different ideas from what she wrote, so I thought I’d share those thoughts with you. I won’t give away her article, so be sure to check out the February 2013 Real Simple to read it – she has some great tips! I just thought I’d offer some of the tips I thought of while reading McDowell’s article. And, I’d love to hear from you guys, so please feel free to chime in with tips of your own in a comment.

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Obstacle #1: I don’t have time

This is an excuse I am most guilty of using…in life, not just in fitness. At least, it was until I read a cool article (can’t remember where) that set me straight by saying that we all get the same 24 hours in the day. You have the time, you’re just using it on different things. Now, you guys know I have a crazy schedule. I pretty much always have. And there was a time when exercise wasn’t part of it. Now, it is. It wasn’t easy, but eventually, I squeezed it in. And now that I’m an instructor, it’s become an important component of my life.

If you think you don’t have time, I’d suggest doing a couple things (individually, or a combination):

  1. Make small changes. I used to use some common tricks you’ve probably already of like parking far away (when it’s safe), taking the stairs, etc. Take a short break (in the afternoon or use part of your lunch break) to go for a short (15 minute) walk. Walk the dog. Every little bit helps.
  2. Change your schedule, but start small. The biggest mistake I see people make is that they go all in and try to go from working out 0 days a week to working out 7 days a week. I guess that works for some people, and if it works for you, go for it! I recommend a more gradual approach. Try scheduling something for 1 day per week. When that’s going well, add another in. Find a schedule that works for you.

Bottom line – if something is important to you, and I think exercise should be, you need to make time for it. Start small and see where you go from there. By starting smaller, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. And when you feel successful, you feel encouraged to continue and to grow.

Obstacle #2: I’m excruciatingly bored

The answer is obvious. Do Zumba. Everyone loves it. No, I’m kidding. Many people do enjoy Zumba, but it isn’t for everyone. The key is to find something that motivates you and something you enjoy.

Here are some categories I’ve noticed:

  1. Love to do things solo? Taking up running or walking may be better for you. Consider signing up for a race (maybe a 1-miler or 5k) so you have a goal to work towards. Maybe download a yoga podcast.
  2. Do you feel motivated by a group? Try a group fitness class. The energy can be so fun and encouraging.
  3. Do you need need someone constantly pushing you and keeping you on track? Maybe hire a personal trainer?
  4. Do you love competition? Why not join an adult league of something? Try tennis, basketball, soccer, or one of the many other teams out there. There are many recreational leagues, so you don’t have to be a prior high school star. In fact, I’d always wanted to play tennis, so when I was on assignment for work, I found a local tennis club and started doing group lessons and playing recreational games after work. It was great for de-stressing and kept me social and not cooped up in my hotel room.
  5. Do you like to be distracted by learning or doing something rather than thinking about your workout? Because of my skating background, this one fits me the most. This is also why I love Zumba so much. Part of the reason I don’t feel like I’m working out is because I’m thinking of other things – how to do a particular move, how the choreo goes, etc. If this is you, try Zumba, Masala Bhangra, or another dance fitness class.
  6. Would you love something that would also help you de-stress? Try yoga. I always felt like I had a great workout after yoga, but I also felt more at peace and like I really de-stressed after a long day of work.

Bottom line – I used to incorrectly think that a workout had to be a struggle. It doesn’t. I look forward to my workout (almost) every time I go. Like 99% of the time. I believe there’s a great workout for everyone out there. You just have to find it. And you may have to try a few different things before you figure out what works for you. Who knows, maybe you’ll have fun in the process?

Obstacle #3: My workout buddy dropped out

I love the idea of workout buddies. But, it’s good to not be 100% dependent on them. Life happens – that doesn’t mean your workout doesn’t have to. Here are some ideas:

  1. Make your workout part of schedule. When you get into a routine, it’s easier to keep it up, regardless of whether or not your friend will be there.
  2. Find another workout buddy or two. If there are other people around (and it’s not just the two of you on a lone running trail), get to know some of the other people doing your workout. I’ve met many of my current friends through Zumba. Who knows, maybe you’ll make new friends, too? If nothing else, you’ll have others who can help motivate you to workout.
  3. Join a group. There are many running, cycling, etc. groups out there. If you think the group is expecting you, you’ll be more likely to go.
  4. Tell the instructor when you’re planning to come to class. I love to hear when someone says they’re excited to come to my class in a couple days. And if you tell the instructor you’re coming, you’ll be less likely to back out.
  5. Enlist your SO. Ask your significant other to help you stay on track. My husband was very encouraging when I wasn’t into the full swing of working out. He’d remind me of what a good time I have and help give me that extra push I needed.

Bottom line – you’re a big boy/girl. Workout buddies are fabulous, but try to not be 100% dependent on them. Find others who can help keep you accountable, if you really need the extra motivation.

Obstacle #4: It’s too cold/hot/rainy/snowy

I have one hashtag for you – #firstworldproblems. Okay, just giving you a hard time. But, seriously, i get it. I’ll admit, every once in awhile, it will be a rainy and gross day outside, and I think to myself…oh no…I have to teach today. But, you know what? I fight the weather and teach my class, and I have a flippin blast. I get to see my friends and regulars, meet new people, and dance my a$$ off. I remind myself of this every time I doubt whether I should go to Zumba and I go anyways, I always have a blast. I saw a funny graphic the other day that said something like, “I really regret doing that workout said no one ever.” Oh wait, I found it here. I made my own version of the graphic to share with you guys:

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Bottom line – remind yourself how good you feel after your workout, and that despite the weather, you’ll feel that positive energy again if you go. I’ve done that before, and it’s worked well (even before I was an instructor). Also, see the tips in obstacle #3 to hold yourself accountable. And if you don’t feel fabulous after you workout, please see obstacle #2.

Obstacle #5: I’m not seeing results

This is the obstacle I’m least comfortable discussing, mostly because I don’t have any education or training on the human body, etc. I will say that most of the people in my classes have seen gradual progress. And it can take time to see progress in certain areas more so than others. I know I got really focused on losing weight in my stomach area, and that was an area that went last for me.

Bottom line – change take time. Be patient, and you will see results. Side note – I would especially love to hear from any personal trainers, etc. on ways people can measure success or when to expect results.

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Charlotte friends – are you purging your closet but you’re too busy to take the clothes to the consignment shop? Check out my Green Jeans giveaway by clicking here – this could be the solution you’re looking for!

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Oh, and here’s a preview of something coming your way next week. Stayed tuned for details! Remember, you can get free The Chic Life updates delivered to you via email or RSS feed by clicking here.

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Reader question: What are some workout obstacles you’ve overcome? How did you do it? And feel free to chime in with your comments, advice, and tips on the obstacles discussed in this post.

The Forgotten Component of Health: Wellness

The Other Component of Health

I bet a lot of you reading think a lot about your physical and nutritional health, but do you ever think about your mental health? I remember when I first started doing Small Changes, Big Results by Ellie Krieger, almost four years ago now (click here to read about my journey), that wellness was my weakest area (nutrition and fitness were the other two). And this is likely a common problem, not just for me.

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According to Ellie:

“The third component of the program is often overlooked by fitness-minded people. They realize it is important to eat better and move their bodies more, but they’re surprised when I tell them there is one more key factor – to examine their lives to determine the biggest stressors, and figure out ways to reduce or eliminate them. You can learn to eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly, but if you ignore your mental health and emotional well-being, you won’t feel good.”

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Oops. I know I’m guilty of this. What about you?

Stress: Pain in the Neck…Literally

I found myself rethinking my approach to healthy living when I woke up at 6:30am this past Sunday with excruciating neck pain. My neck had been sore most of the weekend, but on Sunday morning, I could barely move, and I felt sharp pain radiating from my neck even though I was just laying there. Not fun.

As I lay there, I wondered how to remedy my situation. I felt like traditional medicine would only focus on treating the symptoms with pain medicine. And though I did take some, I really wanted to think about my situation from a more holistic perspective. What was the cause of the pain? That was what I needed to fix, maybe for the present but mostly for the future. I didn’t have to think long before I came to the conclusion that I’d been working myself into the ground the past few weeks without giving de-stressing or relaxation a second thought. Heck, I couldn’t even make myself get a decent amount of sleep. Sound familiar?

Later that morning, my dad (we were visiting my parents) decided to turn to Dr. Weil for some advice, so he consulted his copy of “Spontaneous Healing.” I’d quote the book, but it’s at my parent’s house, and I just ordered it on Amazon today. Hopefully, I can share more later. But, basically, the book confirmed my suspicions. We read that neck pain, even if tied to a previous injury, is usually related to stress. Hmm…

I knew I’d been pushing myself a little (way?) too hard, but what was I doing about it to counter that stress along with other, everyday stressors? I tried to think back to the last time I’d paid any attention to relaxation and de-stressing. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d thought about either of those things. I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d gotten at least 8 hours of sleep. In fact, as I tie all of this together, I’m reminded of how I didn’t pay as much attention to the wellness challenges of Small Changes, Big Results. I guess I’m stubborn like that. Always pushing rest and relaxation to the side burner. In some ways, I don’t feel like I deserve it. Like I haven’t earned it or something. Who knows.

Going Forward

But, I think it’s time to re-evaluate things. Healthy Living is about more than just food and fitness. And I guess I could just pop some pain medicine every time my body flips out, but I’d rather fix the cause than treat the symptoms. Stress is going to happen, but what can I do to minimize it? Additionally, what can I do to better handle it?

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According to Dr. Weil from this article:

“While it is always worth trying to change external situations that are destructive, keep in mind that you have a choice as to how situations affect you. In time, you can learn to change your reactions to them – simply making changes to what you see as the external aspect of stress (such as getting a new job, moving, ending a relationship) does not give people tools for managing future problems any better. Therefore it is also important to learn how to relax and protect yourself from the harmful effects of stress.”

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re good at relaxing and handling your stress, then, probably not much. And I’d be surprised to see you’re still reading this, though maybe my train-wreck-workaholic-self does lend some entertainment value. Either way, I hope to be more like you one day. But if you’re stressed out like me…if you’re paying little or no mind to rest and relaxation, then I invite you to start doing so.

My Plan for Better Managing Stress

My plan is to spend more time (even if only 5 minutes a day) focusing on relaxation and learning how to better handle stress. I think I’m going to take another look at my SCBR book and maybe do just the weekly wellness challenge for the next 12 weeks. But, I’m also planning to do additional research to find more helpful info. It’s time to pay more attention to the third aspect of healthy living – wellness. Care to join me?

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You can start now.

Challenge: The first challenge in SCBR is to spend 5 minutes focusing on your breath. Pay attention to how it changes. Do you feel more relaxed? I tried this last night right before bed and fell asleep. Not sure if that’s what Ellie was going for, but I did feel more relaxed, at least. I’m not going to give away all of Ellie’s challenges, but this 5 minute breather is one that is simple enough, anyone should be able to include it in their daily activities. If I can do it, you can too!

Ready for more?

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Reader questions: Do you devote time to relaxation? How do you handle stress? Do you have any recommendations for further reading on relaxation and stress-management? Please share in the comments!

Green Monster Smoothies 101 + Basic Recipe

It’s sweet, it’s refreshing, and it’s…GREEN? Yup, it’s a Green Monster Smoothie!

If you’re a Green Monster (GM) expert or enthusiast, you may be wondering if you could learn from this post. I don’t think you’ll learn anything you don’t already know. But, I do think you could offer your GM expertise. You can share tips for those less familiar with the wonderfulness that is the GM.

This post is actually written more for my other friends and readers who are new to GMs. Many of my Zumba participants, “real life” friends, and blog/twitter friends aren’t as familiar with Green Monster Smoothies.

So, if you’re wondering what the heck a “Green Monster Smoothie” is, then read on. And if you’re a Green Monster guru, then leave some comment love. Please share some of your tips and favorite GM recipes.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

{So beautiful and green}

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

What is a Green Monster Smoothie?

A Green Monster smoothie is a healthy smoothie. It is bright green in color, thanks to the star ingredient: spinach! Yes…I said “spinach.” Don’t cringe. Honestly, once it’s all blended up with other ingredients, you cannot taste it! Have you ever tried eating just a spinach leaf plain? I have. It didn’t taste like much of anything. So, especially when you blend the spinach up with fruit and milk, you won’t taste it. Mmmkay? ;)

Some people use kale instead, but I prefer spinach.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Green Monster Smoothie Ingredients

There are endless combinations, but the most basic and common ingredients are:

  • Spinach/Kale – This is the KEY ingredient. You can use fresh or frozen (I’ve tested it – check out this post).  And, as I mentioned above, you can substitute the spinach with kale.
  • Bananas – usually 1 to 2 are used per smoothie. I go with 1 per serving, and I prefer frozen bananas because it makes the texture thicker. This is also a good way to save bananas before they spoil. Simply freeze and save for a smoothie later! Brown bananas aren’t just for banana bread!
  • Milk of choice – dairy milk, soy milk, vanilla rice milk. You can use your favorite milk, but  a sweetened milk will yield a sweeter smoothie. I prefer to use unsweetened and add a natural sweetener, like honey.
  • Ice – to help make the smoothie cold and frosty.

Other common GM ingredients:

  • Yogurt – makes the smoothie thicker and provides protein and add probiotics.
  • Honey/Agave – liquid sweeteners if you need more sweetness in the smoothie. I think the bananas are sweet enough. If you use a sweetened non-dairy milk, you probably won’t need either of these.
  • Chia Seeds – a health-food ingredient. If you let it sit in liquid for several minutes, it will plump up and become gelatinous (like a tiny tapioca pearl, for bubble tea fans).
  • Nut Butters – peanut butter, almond butter, etc. Add this for creaminess and healthy nut nutrition.
  • Other fruits – feel free to add your other favorite fruits. See the next section on ingredients to avoid when selecting (mostly for color).

Ingredients to use in small portions when making GMs:

*Edited: After reading some of the comments, I decided to edit this. Instead of avoiding them all together, I’ll warn against using too much of these ingredients. Thanks guys! :) *

  • Berries – blueberries, raspberries, etc. If you use too much, the berries will change the color of the smoothie. It won’t be green or as green. Sometimes berries turn the GM brown!
  • Other – Pretty much anything with a lot of color that will change the color of the smoothie away from green. Trust me, a brown smoothie is not as appealing visually, even if it still tastes amazing. Not to mention, I wouldn’t call a brown smoothie a “Green” Monster Smoothie. I’d call that just a smoothie with spinach in it. :lol: We should come up with a name for these, right?!)

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Once you’re ready to blend, there are a couple tips to keep in mind.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Green Monster Smoothie Blending Tips

I like to layer my ingredients in the blender in the following order*:

  • Spinach/Kale – putting this at the bottom helps ensure the leaves are blended instead of flying around the blender and sticking to the sides. If I use frozen spinach/kale, I don’t always add that first since it doesn’t have the same texture as fresh
  • Dry ingredients – like flaxseed meal, matcha, etc. Add first for the same reason as spinach – so it doesn’t get stuck to the sides/lid
  • Nut Butters – so it’s less likely to fly up and stick to the sides
  • Liquid Sweetener – same as nut butters
  • Other small fruits – goji berries, etc.
  • Bananas – to weigh spinach down
  • Other large fruit – cantaloupe, etc.
  • Ice
  • Milk of choice

*All of these ingredients are not always used, but if I were using them, this is the order I’d follow.

And every blender is different, so settings will vary. I usually just blend away until all the fruit/ice is smooth and all the spinach leaves are blended so small. Instead of seeing individual pieces, I look for smooth greenness. This usually only takes 1 or 2 minutes for me.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Why Drink Green Monster Smoothies?

First of all, they’re fun to look at and just plain delicious.

I spent a month with my Project Veg-Up challenge focusing on eating lots of fruits and veggies every day. I know that it can sometimes be a struggle to “eat your greens.” This is especially true on your busiest days. Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to consume fruit. And now thanks to the GM, they can be the easiest way to consume some vegetables, too!

So GM smoothies feature spinach, and here’s why spinach is good for you – a quote I’ve shared before from whfoods.com:

Spinach is an excellent source of bone-healthy vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and calcium; heart-healthy folate, potassium, and vitamin B6; energy-producing iron and vitamin B2; and free radical-scavenging vitamin A (through its concentration of beta-carotene) and vitamin C.

Side note: This is just general info. I know some people are supposed to avoid spinach (doctor’s orders), so obviously, you may want to avoid the GM if this is true for you, too. And, you should always consult with your doctor before making dietary changes. But, I trust that you know what’s best for you. ;)

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Basic Green Monster Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Green Monster smoothies are beautiful to look at and delicious to drink. And if you’re not sold yet, they’re good for you, too! Drinking GM smoothies is the easiest way I know to get a vegetable serving in for the day. Also, I don’t typically add extra sweeteners to my smoothies, but I’ve included directions below in case you would like to add some to yours. :)
*Vegetarian, Vegan if you use vegan milk* Serves 1
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1½ – 2 cups loosely packed spinach (or sub ¼ cup frozen spinach or sub kale)
  • 1 banana (a frozen banana will give you a thicker consistency, but non-frozen works, too)
  • 1 cup milk of choice (dairy, non-dairy, vanilla non-dairy, etc.)
  • 2 cubes ice
  • sweetener of choice, to taste, optional (liquid sweeteners, like honey or agave, will work best)
Instructions
  1. Place spinach, banana, milk, and ice in the blender.
  2. Cover and blend until banana/ice is processed and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Taste test and if desired, blend in sweetener of choice to taste.
  3. Enjoy!
Notes
This single serving recipe is easily multiplied to serve more!

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Here are more fabulous GM smoothie recipes you may enjoy:

*And be sure to check out this site for hundreds of other tasty Green Monster recipes: http://greenmonstermovement.com/ *

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Green Monster Virgins: Are you scared of Green Monsters or do you think you’ll try one soon? Why or why not?

Green Monster Gurus: What are you favorite things to add to your GM smoothies? And if you have any GM smoothies (of your own or of others) that you love, please leave the link in a comment! :)

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