I thought I would begin my recipe-sharing the way I begin every single day: with breakfast.
Specifically, by discussing my approach to breakfast. I used to be very much Pro-Milk-and-Cereal. I ate cereal for breakfast every day growing up and throughout college. In my last year of college, however, I read Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and the one thing that truly stuck with me was his advice to shop around the perimeter of the supermarket. After all, that’s where all the fresh/frozen/refrigerated foods are. In other words, real foods. The types of food that don’t need to advertise how they are good for you because they just are. This is in stark contrast to my beloved cereal boxes, which are chock full of claims of wholesomeness like, “Now with fiber!” You know what else has fiber? Fruits. Vegetables. Food.
So, when I started law school, I began to rethink my breakfast plans. Unfortunately, I had a…thing about eggs for a very long time. I could eat them for a day or two, but after that, I would just get so tired of them. Because I was also in the middle of my sugar addiction at the time, that meant that I always tended towards sweet breakfasts. I could eat me some waffles (never been a big fan of pancakes, except my mom’s banana chocolate chip ones) and french toast like nobody’s business. Of course, those things were typically reserved for weekend brunches, but my weekdays had to stay in the “sweet” category for me to feel satiated. So, I spent about 3 months having a giant fruit smoothie for breakfast every day. Sometimes I would make oatmeal, but mostly it was smoothies, with some “grown up” cereal in between (bye bye Reese’s Puffs).
My weight loss journey that started at the end of law school, however, seriously reset my sweet cravings and gave me a newfound appreciation for eggs. And so I learned balance. My current approach to breakfast, therefore, is now to rotate breakfasts on a weekly basis. For example, one week I will decide that I am going to do eggs, so I will cook two sunny side up eggs every morning and eat them either on top of veggies or with turkey bacon. The next week, I’ll have smoked salmon on cottage cheese with cherry tomatoes and red onion. The week after that I’ll decide I’m craving something sweeter so it will be smoothie week (with greens in them). And then finally, because one of the things I can’t give up for Paleo is oatmeal but unfortunately grains do contribute to weight gain a little bit for me, I’ll do a week of grains every once in a while. The key for me for breakfasts is finding which combinations of foods keep me full until lunch.
And so, this week was smoothie week. I have a couple general rules when it comes to my smoothie-making:
1. Blend liquids with greens first. There’s nothing worse than biting into a piece of celery that didn’t blend well enough. So before adding in all the other fruits, I make sure the greens are very well-blended.
2. Make sure one of your fruits is frozen, so you don’t have to add ice in addition. I get brain-freeze easily, so I don’t like my smoothies too cold. If you do, you can always add the ice.
3. Put some sort of protein source in there to keep you full longer. This can include liquid egg whites, full-fat Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese. Cottage cheese really thickens it up, so it can come down to a textural preference for you.
4. Put a healthy fat to also keep you full longer. Good sources: coconut butter or oil, avocado, and nut butters.
This week was a special smoothie week because it also happened to be the week that I made a smoothie, with greens no less, that not only was my own concoction but that I also really really liked. I know, a smoothie hardly qualifies as a “recipe,” but although most of my smoothies tend to be good in that they taste like fruits, they aren’t ever anything I would, say, offer a guest. This is one of the first smoothies I’ve made that was so delicious, I was compelled to immediately write down how I made it. And if you are skeptical about putting greens in your smoothie (which, to be fair, so was I until I tried it), it is a perfect introduction. And so, without further ado:
Tropical Green Smoothie
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (store-bought or homemade)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup frozen mango pieces
1 stalk celery
3/4 cup spinach
2 tbsp melted coconut butter (optional) (RECOMMENDED: how to make your own)
Blend almond milk, orange juice, yogurt, coconut butter, celery, and spinach until smooth. Add mango pieces and banana and blend until smooth.
NOTE: On days where I have a smoothie for breakfast, I don’t eat fruit for any snacks during the day to manage the sugars. Balance, friends, balance.