Those of you who read my blog know that I LOVE to cook, but you probably don't know that one of my favorite pastimes is bike riding. In the warmer months of the year I usually ride eight to fifteen miles a day, four to five days per week. I love, love, love the vicarious thrill of sailing down a country road or through the winding trails and slopes of a greenway bike path with nothing but clear, fresh air between myself and God's beautiful creation. I love feeling the wind in my face and experiencing the freedom of self-powered motion. I sense the seasons in much more depth from a bicycle; the tiny hint of pale green in the spring as the foliage begins another new season of life, the first summer fragrance of honeysuckle, newly-mown grass or abundant wild flowers, the vivid, glorious colors of fall and the sound of leaves crunching beneath my tires....... I could go on and on!
Bike riding is so enjoyable to me because it doesn't feel like exercise, yet it burns lots of calories. Did you know that riding at a leisurely rate of twelve miles per hour can burn over 500 calories?! When I'm using up energy like this, I definitely need something to keep me going so today, I'm sharing one of my "secret potions" with you - Green Smoothies!
I know this concoction sounds a bit strange - spinach (lots of it), cucumbers, parsley, plus a myriad of other vegetable combinations blended together with bananas, peaches, strawberries...?! What in the world? You might be thinking, "this must taste awful!", but guess again! While this funny looking green drink is quite delicious, it's also loaded with natural vitamins, minerals, fiber and nutrients and keeps me sustained and hydrated for hours! You can read more about the benefits of Green Smoothies here but give them a try, you might just get addicted like I am!
Delicious & Nutritious - Green Smoothies
2 big handfuls of fresh, raw spinach
½ cup green tea or fruit juice
½ apple of choice
1 banana (like with banana bread the riper, the better, a great way to use bananas that are past their prime!)A handful of parsley sprigs or cilantro (or both)
2 inches of cucumber, washed well but unpeeled
About 1/4 inch ginger root, peeled
½ cup yogurt or 1 scoop of protein powder*
1 peach or 1 manago or nectarine
1 medium lime, juice of
honey,agave nectar or Splenda, to taste
lots of ice - I use about 2 cups
Wash and cut fruit. Leave skin on apple and any other fruit with edible skin. Chop ginger, just a bit and add it to blender along with fruit, spinach, parsley and juice or tea. Blend for a minute before adding ice cubes. Add ice cubes and blend well. Add a little extra juice or tea if necessary.
A few notes:
This is just an "example" recipe, feel free to use what ever fruit is in season on is on sale. Sometimes I use fresh pineapple, raspberries, nectarines and avocados. Keep the spinach, parsley, cucumber and ginger as constants, as much as possible but if you are missing something, don't worry about it, the smoothie will still be good and good for you!
You can freeze fresh fruit and/or vegetables and use them later for smoothies. I often do this with fruit that I can't use up but that will go bad if left unfrozen. This works with almost any fruit or vegetable and I even do it with spinach - I just freeze it in piles on a sheet pan, then bag it up once it is frozen. This is especially wonderful if you buy the big tubs of spinach which are so cheap at stores like Sam's Club or Costco.
*I like the 100% Whey Protein Powder from Trader Jo's - it has 18 grams of protein and only adds 100 calories per scoop. I'm sure you can find something similar at nutrition stores.