The Beginnings of the Great Smoothie Experiment
Confession: I don’t like eating fruits and vegetables.
Okay, I like some of them. Well, one or two of them. This is a problem when it comes to proper nutrition. I’ve learned to tolerate eating some over the years out of necessity but, according to the latest blood work and my doctor, that is not nearly enough.
Worse, my youngest daughter has the same taste and texture issues with fruits and vegetables that I do. She’s young enough to change, so the smoothie experiment began because her nutritionist gave us several smoothie recipes and she agreed to try them.
This is a teen who used to spend almost an hour trying to each spinach slathered in way too much creamy ranch dressing. An alternative was clearly needed.
Onward we went, me armed with Google and a recipe sheet from her nutritionist, her armed with a willingness to try.
Soon, however, I would get pulled (mixed?) into the smoothie experiment.
Step 1 of The Great Smoothie Experiment: Finding Our Favorites
Originally, we started out with a peanut butter smoothie recipe offered by the nutritionist.
That was met with less than an enthusiastic reception. Powdered peanut butter was not gonna be a thing for my daughter. Next, we moved onto the smoothie mix packets offered by Fresh Success. And that’s where I became involved. I needed to be the taste tester for the kid. Or, rather, the texture taster.
After much trial and error, we can up with this:
The Daughter’s Favorite Smoothie
Her base and much-loved smoothie recipe:
- 1 Banana/chocolate Fresh Success mix
- Ice cubes
- Fresh spinach
- 1 teaspoon of Hershey’s syrup
- Skim milk
Total calories: approximately 220.
Note: the mix says “chocolate banana.” That’s a suggestion. Turns out you can drop the chocolate mix into basically any kind of smoothie. The only item we don’t use in the mix is banana. Because my daughter doesn’t like them in such large quantities, I hate bananas, and my eldest son, who does like bananas, doesn’t like chocolate with them.
In short, you can use this Fresh Success chocolate/banana mix with any fruit or veggie combination.
Yes, yes, I know. There’s sugar in it. There are also two helpings of spinach in it. Two helpings. Which she drinks down happily. Sometimes she asks for two shakes a day. Plus, it has less fat and calories than the creamy ranch dressing she used to get the spinach down before and she’s getting twice the amount.
Don’t judge me.
The best part? Her nutritionist is pleased. She struggles with weight (as a result of some medical issues) and she’s lost ten pounds. Her latest blood work shows that her good cholesterol is terrific and her bad cholesterol is down, to the point of it not being a problem any longer. Not to mention her blood sugar has edged back from being close to the line and now is completely normal. Part of this is the result of some minor diet changes (no more white bread, cutting back on snacks) and an exercise routine. But the added vegetables helped.
So, all a success. Even if I can’t get her to eat fruit-based smoothies. She will at least eat apples every day.
My Favorite Smoothie
When I started this, I seriously had no idea what fruits and vegetables I liked, taste-wise.
When you can’t stand the thought of them squishing around your mouth, taste is secondary. But I like certain fruit juices, so I started with those type of fruits: all kinds of berries, cherries, melons, peaches, and pineapples. On the vegetable side, I went with kale, spinach, and carrots.
Kale was a MISTAKE. Ugh. More on that later. But my favorite base smoothie:
- Any kind of frozen berries
- 2 tbsp of peanut butter powder
- Skim milk
- 1 tsp of the Fresh Success Strawberry mix OR a serving of protein powder
Total calories, approximately 70 from the fruit, 50 from the PB powder, 60-70 from the mix, 50 from the milk.
Doing this, I have eaten more fruit in the past month than in my LIFE.
I usually substitute a smoothie for lunch, which has the effect of cutting down my carbs.
However, a word of warning: watch the Fresh Success mix nutrition labels. It lists calories/nutrition for 1 oz. The packet is 2 ounces. It took me a few weeks to notice this, which may explain why I have not lost weight. Now I’m using less than a quarter of the packet each time. I don’t have my blood work back yet to report on the effects of my cholesterol but I’ll update this post when I do.
You can vary the types of peanut butter powders. Some contain flax & chia seeds, some have cocoa, some are organic, others have vanilla, etc. But they contain very little fat because they are powdered. Peanut butter taste, low to little fat.
I also often add a few carrots or spinach to the berries. I also like my daughter’s smoothie (c’mon, who wouldn’t?) but I sometimes add peanut butter powder to it. I’ve also used her base smoothie and added carrots, rather than spinach.
As for the prepared blends, Dole has a number of great combinations. The kale one tastes good but has some other issues (see below). I liked the mango one with butternut squash added to milk and only a quarter of the Fresh Success strawberry packet.
I’m working now on cutting the sugar contribution to my smoothies by seeing how little sugar or protein powder that I can tolerate.
The Rejects From the Great Smoothie Experiment
I read all about kale. It’s a superfood. Awesome for you, all the literature says. Okay, how bad could the taste be, compared to spinach? So I bought a bag of fresh kale.
One, kale smells like cut grass. Or seaweed. Or both. That flavor ends up in the smoothie, no matter how much it’s masked. That means the sugar content had to increase to the point where it wasn’t worth the nutrition. Seriously, how does anyone eat this? You all must have different taste buds than I do.
I did try *frozen* kale, which cut down the flavor. But the frozen pieces stuck to the blades of the mixer, which made it a fail. I’ll stick with spinach for my leafy greens.
The Superfood Powders
I researched these and thought, hey, maybe I should put a teaspoon of a superfood powder in every smoothie, especially since my daughter needs a better variety of smoothies.
Once again, we found the taste just plain awful, yes, even the ones that promised “berry” or other flavors. First, the cut grass smell is strong. Then, in the smoothie, the chemical taste overwhelms.
Plus, this is processed food. Wouldn’t it be better to eat the food in its natural state as much as possible? That seemed logical to me. I resolved to try more types of veggies, fresh or frozen, and say good-bye to these powders.
There are a zillion kinds, all promising one thing or another. I tried the super-expensive kind ($29.95 for one packet) from GNC. So much chemical taste! How can that be good? I finally settled on the cheapest alternative, from my local grocery store. I bought a can each of chocolate and vanilla shake mixes made by Stop and Shop. They’re 110 calories per scoop and contain protein, which the Fresh Foods mixes do not.
Bottom line: don’t overspend on the protein powders unless you have a nutrition plan from a nutritionist.
Other Fruits and Vegetables I Discovered I Disliked
I tried all the frozen fruits. Turns out, I hate peaches. Loathe them. Wanted to spit out the smoothie because of taste, not texture. That was a surprise. Also a surprise was my intense dislike of bananas. I’d eaten banana bread. I thought I’d like them in smoothies. Nope, nope, and nope. Too much. That means I can’t buy any prepared frozen fruit/vegetable mixes with bananas, which wipes out about half of them.
Other dislikes? I’m indifferent about melons. Cucumbers are a no. Mangoes are okay but a whole smoothie with them is too much.
Good to know.
The Great Smoothie Experiment: The Equipment
I used a Magic Bullet, the cheapest model, shown below, though a little worse for wear. You can find them from between $30 and $40.
It does the job nicely but there are some flaws, some inherent in this particular device and some, I would guess, would be a problem with any of these juice/smoothie blenders.
The first is that certain foods get stuck on the blades. I mentioned kale but strawberries and oranges also sometimes stick to the blades. The solution is to check the blades halfway through blending and eliminate the debris but that is messy.
The second problem is if the container isn’t filled all the way, the blades can spin helplessly while the frozen fruit sticks at the top. The solution is to either add more liquid or remove the mixer apparatus and tap it on the counter so the heavier fruit falls to the bottom.
But, most of the time, it produces an utterly liquid product, perfect for anyone with texture issues.
And for drinking them? The Magic Bullet came with its own cups but I do like my Wonder Woman Colossal Tervis Tumbler. Tervis has them for many types of fandoms but, if you’re like me and want to keep the kids away from your favorite cups, maybe the Mom cup pictured above one should be for you.
The Great Smoothie Experiment: What’s Next?
I continue to try any of the fruit/veggies blends that I find in various frozen food sections at my local grocery stores. But I also have a plan to switch over somewhat from smoothies to juices. Surely, those blueberries would taste great mixed with my unsweet ice tea or another kind of fruit juice.
And I also vow to attempt other kinds of vegetables in my chocolate/peanut butter smoothies. Cucumbers are out but that leaves a whole host to try.
For that, I turn it over to you! Any suggestions?