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Entries in health (2)


What's for breakfast? Smoothies

I’m not really what you would call a morning person. I like being up early, I just don’t like getting up early, and once I’m up it takes me a considerable amount of time, and at least one cup of coffee, to really find my feet. So on weekdays, when Jon needs to get out the door to work and our own morning subjects are calling us, we want breakfasts that are quick to make, and easy to clean up. 

For a long time that placed us securely on the cereal with milk and fruit team, but I always felt a measure of guilt about that. We avoided the traditional sugar cereals and I scoured nutrition labels to find the highest protein, lowest sugar options, but we were still starting the day heavy with carbs and were often hungry before the first hour was out. Various egg dishes solved those issues, but were more time and energy than we had on our busiest mornings. Then smoothie recipes started popping up on my Pinterest feed. Problem solved. 

Easy to make, quick to clean up, sugar free, high in protein, and surprisingly filling—smoothies, some of them at least, hit all my check points for breakfast necessities.

To speed up the breakfast routine, I assemble several smoothie bags that we keep in the freezer. On each bag I write the smoothie name, the ingredients that are in the bag, and the ingredients that need to be added (we wash and reuse the bags to cut down on waste). In the morning we add the liquid, the yogurt, and the bag contents to the blender. Breakfast!

To keep costs down we buy our frozen fruit, bananas, and spinach from Costco. Sometimes I buy overripe bananas from the regular grocery store.

Everything except the liquids and yogurt go in the bags. I slice the bananas to make things easier on the blender.

Clean up is as easy as running a squirt of soap and hot water in the blender, popping our glasses in the dishwasher. 

Our three favorite recipes:

Banana Bread Smoothie (adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
Servings: 3
In the bag:
2 1/2 bananas
1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
Added in the blender:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt (I use non-fat)
1 tsp vanilla (optional)

Breakfast Energy Smoothie (adapted from
Servings: 3
In the bag:
2 cups mixed berries
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 handfuls spinach
Added in the blender:
2 cups good orange juice
1 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (I use non-fat)
1 tsp vanilla (optional)

Blueberry Power Bowl (adapted from
Servings: 3
In the bag:
1 1/2 bananas
2 cups blueberries
3 handfuls spinach
1/2 cup oats
Added in the blender:
2 cups good orange juice
1 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt (I use non-fat) 


Healthy eating

The wind has been whipping around here with a force equal to the weather's fickle attitude. Forty degrees and sunny on Saturday, twenty degrees and snowing on Sunday, a high of six degrees today. It buffeted the house loudly enough to wake both Jon and me from a deep sleep in the middle of the night, and a minute later we heard Calvin awake as well. So far, whenever it's cold enough for us to enjoy a fire and marshmallows, it's windy enough that we just can't.

It may be 66 inside, but it's all of 4 outside.

But for all the weather oddities there is no doubt that the month is January when you're perusing the Pinterest boards or the Facebook feed—a majority of links are for exercise plans, healthy eating tips and recipes, or organizational techniques. I scoff at a few of them (why on earth would I put designer wrapping paper on the bottoms of my drawers? I'll never get to see it), but others have been just what we needed to get our own 2013 off to a good start.

Apart from my Pinterest reading, Calvin's growing interest in nutrition and cooking has really kicked our healthy resolution pursuits into high gear. Two weeks ago we sat down with the revised food pyramid given to us by his pediatrician. He drew a plate to demonstrate proper portions and food group distribution, then planned a full day's worth of meals and snacks so as to cover all the general healthy guidelines. It drove home how lazy we've been, particularly with breakfast, lunch, and snack, covering protein, grain, veggie, and fruit, but not getting more specific than that. Cheese and crackers with carrots and berries does not a good lunch make, at least not on a weekly basis.

That first week we revamped our snack habits, aiming to include nuts and fruits and avoid, for the most part, the refined grains we've often fallen back on. Last week we started reworking our entire lunch menu, zeroing in on greens, legumes, and fruits. This week we target our breakfasts, cutting out the standard store-bough (albeit whole grain) bagel, and leaning instead toward more noticeable whole grains, and homemade at that.

I hear, via Pinterest of course, that it takes 21 days for something new to become a habit. I'm not sure that's entirely true—I ran daily for forty-some-odd days between Thanksgiving and New Years and still had no problem last week, while I was down and out with this cold, reverting to my original habit of occasional running. The first day, even the second, was hard, but by this weekend it was more difficult to run than not, my only excuse being that I'm still finding it hard to breathe just sitting on the couch. Still, I'm hoping that our eating habits are another story.

So far, colds notwithstanding, it has been a very healthy new year. Every Sunday has found Calvin and me sitting at the table with a variety of new recipes (thank you Pinterest) and a grocery list, making out a meal and snack plan for the week that is full of bright colors, fresh flavors, and general homemade goodness. During the week he helps me prepare at least two meals from beginning to end, reading recipes, measuring, stirring, cracking eggs, even sometimes cutting. Since two nights of meal preparation usually feed us for at least four, he's helping not only plan, but prepare at least half the week's worth of edibles. This Sunday he helped make a mostly healthy breakfast casserole that we prepared ahead for the coming week. I can practically feel myself being healthier.

Making breakfast oatmeal casserole

Homemade oatmeal casserole

Homemade mac&cheese for lunch, with a large and colorful salad

Makeover tuna salad stuffed avocado