With the holiday season in full swing, sometimes it is nice to have a healthy antidote on hand to help your body detox from all the tempting holiday treats available around every corner. I recently bought myself an early Christmas present to help me get a few more leafy greens into my daily routine … a Ninja Blender. A Ninja Blender is a much less expensive competitor to the super-pricey Vitamix but very, very good at blending frozen fruit, ice cubes, leafy greens, and more into your super smoothies.
Blueberries are pretty much a standard ingredient in every smoothie I make these days. I was able to purchase a couple of gallons of frozen organic berries from one of our local farms this fall and I also did my best to bring back gallons of my own hand-picked fruit from my parents’ house up in Massachusetts. I was even able to get a lot of them frozen before my children could eat them all. It was hard to restrict their blueberry consumption but I knew that I would really be needing those berries come winter!
Blueberries are truly a powerhouse fruit. The University of North Carolina has a research campus located not too far from us here in Charlotte and, on that campus, is the Plants for Human Health Institute where the director of the institute, Dr. Mary Ann Lila, focuses her research on the health benefits of berries. I am not joking. The Institute grows more than 8,000 acres of all different kinds of berries – blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Charlotte will even be home to the 2013 Berry Health and Research Symposium next summer. (For more information, click here.) Until I run out of my frozen supply, I can promise you that these amazing blueberries will be in every smoothie I make. ** In order to reap the full benefit of blueberries, you must eat them fresh or frozen – they might be tasty cooked up in a bread but they aren’t going to do your body much good.
The Purple Powerhouse Smoothie
I have made a lot of variations of this “purple smoothie” as my kids call it but the basic ingredients are blueberries, kale, banana, ice cubes, and water. Sometimes I leave out the banana and add a couple of medjool dates, sometimes I add plain Greek yogurt. Today, I replaced the water with coconut water. Blend up a smoothie, give it a taste, and adjust as necessary … Smoothies are really, really hard to mess up!
|Gorgeous Local Kale|
1 cup frozen blueberries
A large handful of kale – 8 to 10 large leaves, stems removed
1 small banana, peeled – fresh or frozen
2-3 medjool dates, pitted (optional)
1/2 cup (up to 1 cup) water
Splash of apple cider, to sweeten
1/2 cup ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in your blender. Blend on high speed to combine. Add more liquid if necessary. Blend again.
|A few of my favorite blueberry pickers … Picking berries at Tree Berry Farm in Scituate|
Notes about other greens … The more smoothies I make, the more of a smoothie adventurer I have become.If you don’t have kale on hand, you can use spinach or baby spinach. Once I started experimenting with more greens, I also started adding in cilantro and parsley, even celery, into my smoothies. I cut up leftover pieces of my kids apples and toss them in as well. A half-eaten banana? Wrap it up and freeze it for the next smoothie… Nothing is safe in my kitchen. I will fully admit that not all of my smoothies are kid friendly – they weren’t really loving the celery version I made the other day… (more for me!) but when I stick with my standard version, they drink it right up.
Why dates? Dates are another small, but mighty, fruit… An ounce of dates contains as much potassium as a banana as well as an excellent amount of fiber, magnesium, and . I found dates sold by weight at my local health food store but it might be a little tricky to find them at your neighborhood grocery – if you see them, I recommend you give them a try.
If you are interested in the Ninja… I bought my Ninja Blender at Macy’s but you can look around and see them everywhere. Kohl’s, Sam’s Club, and many online stores all carry them…
Click on the photo above to check out the Ninja at Kohl’s.