I’m recovering from oral surgery. Due to years of braces (and genetics?), I have to undergo a series of gum grafts to repair receeding gums. Yes, it is fairly painful and bloody. Mostly it’s inconvenient. Limited activity, 4-5 days of mushy foods, and chewing limited to a small area of your mouth. Enter the smoothie: an easy way to ingest my quota of fruits and vegetables during the immediate post-op days. And now, let’s get to know each other on a happier note.
By the time my husband, FHE, and I were college students in the early 2000s, smoothie love was in full swing. On the West Coast, people had been lining up at Jamba Juice for years. At school, I recall friends filling their dormroom fridges with Odwalla and other bottled vegetable and fruit concoctions. FHE discovered the smoothie station at the student center and enjoyed his share of the “Sunrise Smoothie.” Now if you’re envisioning an amalgamation of the freshest and finest fruits, think again: these two words evoke nothing but creamy decadence. We’ll never know the ingredient list, but I’m pretty sure the Sunrise Smoothie was comprised of passionfruit juice (or some other tropical fruit), canned fruit (pineapple, peach) with syrup, and orange sherbert.
About this time, my mother-in-law, who is a nutritionist by training, began warning us about the smoothie trend: don’t overdo it – it’s all sugar. Fruit, fruit juice, and fruit sorbet or fruit yogurt. Sugar, sugar, and more sugar. Her message was particularly relevant to my husband, since my father-in-law is a lifelong diabetic. Since the end of college, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve consumed a smoothie. And then Rice Kernel came along.
After his first birthday, I discovered that my fruit-fiend son didn’t enjoy milk. But if I froze fresh fruit and pureed it with milk, voila! And for a creamier, thicker texture, Greek nonfat yogurt worked wonders. Rice Kernel never had a problem downing his share of vegetables, but I’ve been known to sneak in a little spinach or carrot into the mix as well. Healthy and easy to consume, my cleaned-up smoothie became an ally in the attempt to pump Rice Kernel with the requisite amount of vitamin D and calcium.
On weekends, Rice Kernel often joins my husband and I at the gym. He plays in the gym’s “KidsClub” while FHE and I break a sweat and catch up on bad movies and reality TV. The moment we pick him up he says excitedly (without fail), “I want a smoothie!” Fortunately, the gym shares my philosophy on smoothie ingredients. Comprised of lowfat Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, and ice, it is simple, clean, and delicious. Rice Kernel’s favorite? TriBerry – blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries - and Tropical (just like his dad) – pineapple, mango, and orange. For the adults, there’s an array of fruit and vegetable smoothies that incorporate kale, spinach, broccoli, dates, spirulina, etc. A little too “liquid salad” for me, but I have it on good authority it’s a sweet, complete meal on-the-go.
Next time you’re looking for a way to get your five-a-day, forget the Jamba Juice menu and consider blitzing together some protein-rich (low sugar) yogurt, fruit, and greens. It’s a complete snack (or meal) and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll fill your “rainbow” for the day. Best of all, there’s no worrying about recipes or seasonings. Just keep blending until you’re pleased with the flavors.
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