Ode to My Blender

Until a few years ago, my trusty blender had one purpose: to make margaritas. Mr. Blender and Mr. Quervo were very familiar with each other, and I thought it was the only thing a blender was good for. A hot summer day deserved a frozen margarita.

Like most of you, I have known about the world of smoothies since Jamba Juice and Fresh City entered the scene almost two decades ago, but I never fully trusted the health claims they boasted, even with all the funky supplement shots they could throw in to personalize it. These smoothies often contained ice cream, frozen yogurt, milk or some other dairy component, plus lots of added sugar, that in my mind negated the benefit of the drink.

Of course, I didn’t realize that added sugars and dairy were negatives until recently. Growing up, I remember my mom making Weight Watchers Shakes. She would add some fresh strawberries or bananas and calcium-rich cow’s milk to the Weight Watchers powder — and, let’s be honest, we had no clue what ingredients that powder contained. We would cheers to what we thought was a healthy, satisfying and filling drink. So, surely, you would have to use some dairy to give such a drink that smooth, frothy consistency.

Nope! I discovered that even in my rinky dink blender, a sad little blender compared to the Vitamix’s of the world, could whip up some pretty fantastic tasting smoothies without — wait for it — dairy or added sugars.

Instead of cow’s milk, ice cream, yogurt or frozen yogurt you can simply use almond milk or any nut milk. I try to stay away from soy milk because the jury is still out on how much soy we should eat. You can also skip the milk altogether and use coconut water, or any filtered water, and an avocado, banana or almond butter to thicken it. Instead of cane sugar or white sugar you can use agave nectar, stevia, a vanilla bean or even maple syrup if you’re not concerned with the glycemic index. I fill my blender with fruits and veggies and press play. The result is good enough that even my one-year-old begs for it. “Sip! Sip!” His little spider man cup has become his official smoothie sippy cup.

The best part of my blending practice is that even before school has started or I’ve taught my first yoga class, I have had five servings of fruits and/or veggies. That’s not a bad way to start the day.

I fully admit and acknowledge that the first time I saw a smoothie recipe that called for kale and almond butter together I wanted to throw up, but like Yo Gabba! Gabba! proclaims: “Try it. You might like it.”

Below are a few samples of my favorites concoctions. Happy blending.

1 cucumber, 1 green apple, 1 banana, 1 avocado, a big handful of kale, coconut water to blend and either stevia, agave nectar or cinnamon stick and maple syrup to taste.
1 banana, 1 orange, about a cup of pineapple (you can even do frozen), a handful of kale and almond milk.
1 cucumber, 1 green apple, 1 banana, 1 avocado, handful of kale, almond milk, 1/2 a cinnamon stick and maple syrup. (tastes like french toast)
1 apple, 2 to 3 carrots, 1/2 inch of ginger, lemon zest and coconut water, stevia or agave nectar.
meat from one coconut (get a workout opening that coconut), shaved vanilla bean or extract, almond milk and almond butter.
Play around with different combinations of fruits and veggies and try to add kale or spinach to almost every drink.

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