During November and December I find I have to make a little more effort to maintain a healthy equilibrium. Even though winters in the Bay Area are mild, there’s no denying that they are still the darkest and coldest time of the (local) year. Last winter, between moving further north and starting a new job/office with less natural light exposure, winter hit me pretty hard. I started a few new habits to help me through, and I’m working to pick them up again this year. One of these habits? Making a green smoothie part of my daily routine:
I know, smoothies seem like summer food. But I find a green smoothie habit actually benefits me more during the winter. In the summer, I’m just generally more likely to be eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, and more of them in raw form, so a smoothie is a drop in a bucket. In the winter, I tend more towards cooked and starchier vegetables (not to mention that my officemates are more likely to be bringing in a box of fudge than the overflow from their vegetable garden or backyard orchard to share).
Since it’s the winter, common fruit smoothie add-ins like berries or peaches are not all that readily available (and in either fresh or frozen form, expensive!), so I’ve been going more seasonal and using a mix of a granny smith apple and a navel orange, both of which are currently cheap and plentiful in our area. Then the fancier ingredients: spinach (and soon kale from the patio!), protein powder, and flax meal. Plus a touch of vanilla, because why not? On a 1 to 10 scale of sweetness, with 0 being not at all sweet and 10 being a lump of pure sugar, I’d rate this smoothie perhaps a 4. It feels like drinking health (in a good way!).
For years, I’ve been using “milk” of some kind in my smoothies. Recently I’ve decided to stop. Why? Because for me, one of the big benefits of a spinach and orange combination is the boost to my iron intake. However, calcium can inhibit iron absorption (though more recent research says maybe not), and most milk alternatives are fortified with…calcium. Why spend money on fancier and supposedly “healthier” foods if the health benefits potentially cancel each other out, right?
Winter weekday smoothie
makes ~30 oz
1. In a blender, or food processor fitted with the metal S-blade, process the spinach with 1/2 c. water until it has at least halved in volume.
2. Add the remaining water, apple, orange, protein powder, flax meal, and vanilla. Blend for at least 30 seconds. Blending longer will produce a smoother end result, but if you’re like me you probably get impatient also!
3. Pour into a quart jar or glasses. Can be drunk immediately or refrigerated overnight. I usually make mine the night before while I’m getting dinner together, then bring it to work the next morning for drinking.