Sunday, January 22, 2012


I thought I would post again about green smoothies! A quick google search will bring up a ton of recipes for green smoothies, as well as hundreds of blog posts and articles with information about the benefits of drinking green smoothies. I love them because they are nutritious, easy to make, refreshing, and filling. I like them better than trying to chow down on a huge salad every day - plus, I don't need to add any fatty dressings or cheese to make them palatable!

My favorite time to have a green smoothie is right after a run. They quench my thirst, as well as refueling me with good carbohydrates. I add raw almonds and flaxseed for protein and omega 3 fatty acids. They also make a great breakfast (along with a hardboiled egg for a little more protein), or a snack.

I keep either a large bowl with a lid or a Ziploc baggie with the fruits that I am currently using for my smoothies daily and it stays in the fridge. The fruits in my fruit bag or bowl vary all the time. Right now my fruit bag has parts of an apple, a pear, a banana, and a clementine; other times I may have pineapple, mango, and strawberries. I also have several bags of frozen organic berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) in my freezer.

You do not need a recipe for a smoothie - just your favorite fruits (fresh and/or frozen) and a bunch of greens.  I never add juice to my smoothies, because I want the health benefits of whole fruits.  Even 100% fruit juice is very high in sugar, and will raise your blood sugar as quickly as drinking a sugary soda. Whole fruits are what our bodies need!  Sweeten your smoothie up with sweeter fruits if you like a sweet smoothie, but try to avoid using juice. (Remember that sweeter, riper fruits will also raise the sugar content of your smoothie - but that's still better for you than using juice.)

This is a picture I took of making a smoothie about a year ago. I think it has oranges and pineapple, maybe some mango in there. You can also see the almonds on the bottom. The first layer of greens is kale, and then baby spinach.

OK, so here is...

How to make a green smoothie:

1.  ICE: Start with the harder ingredients, and then add softer ingredients on the top. First place a handful of ice cubes in your blender.

2. NUTS FOR PROTEIN: If you would like to add some nuts for protein, add them next (about 1 or 2 tablespoons of almonds is what I use).

3.  FRUITS WITH SKIN: Now add your favorite fruits. If you are using frozen fruits, add them first, then add the fresh fruits. Don't peel your fruit - buy organic and include the skins because they're good for you, and contain lots of fiber! Fill your blender about 1/3 of the way up with fruits with their skins.

4. FLAXSEED: If you would like, this is the time add some organic flaxseed - about 1 tablespoon ground. This is an easy way to get Omega-3 fatty acids for the day!

5. GREENS: Now it's time for the main ingredient - GREENS. I always use spinach, and sometimes a little kale. But, use whatever greens you want! If you want to include kale - which is very good for you - keep in mind that it has a much stronger flavor than spinach. I recommend a using little bit of kale, and a LOT of spinach. :) Whatever you use, just fill your blender all the way to the top with greens. Push them down a little, and then add some more. This is the point of the Green Smoothie! You want LOTS of GREENS. :)  Spinach is very mild, and if you use it, you will be surprised at how the taste of the fruit will overpower the spinach flavor - despite the bright green color.  Get creative!

6. WATER: After your blender is filled with greens, pour in at least one cup of filtered water, more if you want it a bit thinner. Not juice, not milk. Don't undo all the good you're doing making a fresh fruit and green drink by adding juice or milk! This is a time for simple, clean, pure, filtered water - nothing less.

7. BLEND: Secure the lid, and push the smoothie (or high) button. Blend until nice and smooth and ready to sip with a straw. My blender takes about one minute to get to this consistency. I usually clean up the little mess I made while the smoothie blends. I figure it's good use of my time. :)

Enjoy!  This makes one big smoothie or two small ones. I drink the whole thing by myself! Sometimes I pour half the smoothie in a glass, and place the blender pitcher in the fridge. After getting a few things done around the house, I come back and finish the pitcher for a snack.

Rinse the pitcher out as soon as possible, or it can be hard to clean later in the day. (BTDT!)

My favorite fruit combinations for green smoothies:

Banana & strawberry

Mango, pineapple & orange

Peach & strawberry

Strawberry, blueberry & raspberry

EDIT: I have also discovered that adding nonfat Greek yogurt to a green smoothie is delicious! It makes a creamy consistency and adds some protein. Just substitute the Greek yogurt for the water (or do 1/2 Greek yogurt and 1/2 water) and do everything else the same. Of course, the calorie content will be higher, but it will be more filling and satisfying. I can drink a Greek yogurt green smoothie for breakfast and not need anything else.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Running again

My running route

Sometimes I am embarrassed that my blog address is "motherunning", especially when I have been slacking as much as I have been lately. My last real run (that I can remember) before today was on December 4, when I participated in the Las Vegas Rock 'n Roll half-marathon. I got so busy with the holidays and my daughter and her family moving here to Olympia, that my running took the back burner. No, actually, it was more like set aside on a cooling rack.

But I'm back. One of my New Years resolutions is to get back into the habit of a daily run through the week, plus one on the weekend. Now that the kids are back in school, Christmas is over, and the decorations have been taken down, I have no excuses. I am getting settled back into the routine.

My 10yo's favorite running term is "fartlek." Of course. Fartlek, if I recall correctly, is a Swedish word that means "speed play." So, this morning, just for fun, I sort of did my own version of fartlek.

One thing I want to do this year is learn to run faster. This fall, while training for the half-marathon, I stepped on a piece of glass and got it stuck in my foot. I couldn't get it out for a long time, and it was too painful to run for several weeks. Of course, this put me way behind in my training, and when I finally got the glass out and started running again, I was slower than ever. Which is really, really slow because I am already slow to begin with.  I was averaging 12 minute miles by the time I went to Las Vegas! Ugh! My foot is all better, but I think I actually trained myself to run slowly. So I'm going to try to retrain myself. I figure this starts with me attempting to run faster, much faster than I am comfortable, for short periods of time.

So this morning, I did two versions of fartlek. I only ran two miles (hey, I'm starting over! Don't laugh!). For the first mile, I started out at a sprint. (I was already warmed up since I had been up for a while and had walked my daughter to her bus stop.)  I sprinted until I couldn't go any farther, and then I walked. OK, so my sprint most likely isn't your sprint - I was running a 6-minute mile pace according to my Garmin - but I could only do that for 0.25 mile. LOL! After I walked and recovered for a few minutes, I started running at a comfortable pace. I looked at my Garmin and I was running an average of a 9:46 mile. I was happily surprised! I continued that, and finished my first mile (including the walking time) in exactly 10 minutes. I haven't done that in months!!

The second mile I did something different. I ran as fast as I could until my Garmin got down to a 7:30-minute mile pace. Then I ran at that pace, for as long as I could sustain it, and when I was about out of breath, I walked, watching my Garmin. When I got to where I was walking at a 13-minute mile pace, I started running again until I got back down to the 7:30 pace. I did this over and over until my second mile was over. It was fun, in a weird sort of way. It sure kept me panting!

Hopefully, doing something like this a few times a week will help me break the habit of running 12 minute miles!