Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Spinach & Almond Smoothie

Breakfast can be a tricky meal, particularly for those following a gluten-free diet. Before I was diagnosed with celiac disease I'd typically have a bowl of cereal (something filling, like Kashi), a piece of toast with butter, or a maybe even a bowl of oatmeal. And sure, there are a number of gluten-free cereal (although frankly, I haven't found any I like), bread (my favorite is Rudi's Multigrain, which I only eat toasted), and oatmeal options (Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Quick Cooking Oats) out there. But I still find breakfast challenging.  

Not long after my diagnosis I went to see a nutritionist and she encouraged me not only to look at my diet, but also at how the food I was eating was making me feel. And not just gluten. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that some foods were proving difficult for my body to digest. That was especially true in the morning. Gluten-free oatmeal, bread, and granola weren't sitting well, and I wanted something besides Greek yogurt or fruit. 

About a year ago I started experimenting with smoothies. Common sense told me it would be much easier on my body to digest liquid in the morning. Plus, I've always love smoothies. Fruit and yogurt seemed like the obvious choice to me, but I was finding myself hungry well before lunch and decided to introduce protein powder. Less than thrilled with the protein powder I purchased (it was really quite a disgusting green kind), I opted to take an alternate route. I'm sure there are plenty of perfectly fine protein powder options out there, but I figured throwing in nuts, chia and flax seed would give me a little added (and more natural) protein.

Around the same time, I started adding spinach for extra vitamins. Some people are completely averse to spinach smoothies, but spinach has a relatively subtle, almost sweet flavor when blended with the right ingredients. This has come to be one of my favorite recipes, and I love the way the spinach, almond milk, banana, pineapple, and almond come together. Plus, the chia and flax seeds give it a slightly extra nutty flavor. The flavors combine in a surprising, satisfying way. It's perfect for breakfast, and thankfully keeps my hunger at bay until lunch rolls around. So if you're looking for a little breakfast inspiration, may I suggest you try this? Something tells me you won't be disappointed.

Spinach & Almond Smoothie

Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1


2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 frozen banana
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds

While I can dream about it, I don't have a Vitamix. My blender is strong, but through trial and error I've found it's easiest to first blend together the spinach and almond milk, creating a liquid base. Then I blend in the pineapple, followed by the banana. Last I add the almonds, chia and flax seeds. Make sure everything is fully blended. Transfer to a glass and serve immediately (it tends to get a little grainy the longer you wait to drink it, as I sometimes do when I head to the gym first thing in the morning). 

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