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Steph’s Super Immunity Smoothie is a versatile, make-ahead option for a power-packed breakfast.

“Ms. Hill, is that a green smoothie?”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the school for which I work offers early drop-off for students in order to stagger their arrival times; therefore, students begin entering my classroom at 7:30 a.m. Until 8:05, students in my middle school homeroom class gradually fill the room while I am typically setting up Google Classroom and other platforms that we use throughout the school day. Meanwhile, the students use this time to finish homework, study, read, or quietly chat with friends.

While going about my morning tasks as students arrive, I typically drink a homemade smoothie. I had not realized any of the students had noticed my habit until a few weeks ago when one of the earliest arrivals asked the question above. When I confirmed her question, she followed it up with another.

“Why do you drink that? Is it like a protein drink?”

I briefly explained the whole-food ingredients, including leafy greens and fruit, and how otherwise I don’t make time for breakfast; she nodded in understanding. Then the same student explained that one of her friends also drinks green smoothies, but that she, the student talking to me, never gets up early enough to make one.

I used to feel the same way, driven by authors who touted that smoothies must be blended and consumed within an hour of being made or vital nutrients would be lost. Then again, I used to feel guilty for even consuming smoothies due to other authorities who insisted that all food must be chewed. Eventually, I tossed both views aside and found my own nutritional middle ground that works best for me.

Smoothies, made with whole-food ingredients that I control, are my nutritional bombshells. They may not work for others, but they work for me. These breakfast cocktails are loaded with a serving of dark leafy greens (or riced cauliflower), a serving of fruit, and whatever nuts, seeds, and/or protein I choose to add — depending upon what nutritional need I want to address. I think of them as a blended breakfast salad.

Last month I began to wonder if I couldn’t freeze smoothies in order to make them in advance, and still keep them fresh. With a quick bit of research, I found several valid websites that shared the ins and outs of this technique! Therefore, this past month I began freezing my smoothies. On Sunday afternoons, I gathered all of my ingredients and blended enough smoothies for the upcoming week. I put one in the refrigerator for Monday morning and the rest were stowed away in the freezer. Then, each morning, as I packed for work, I grabbed a thawed smoothie from the fridge, and took another one down from the freezer to thaw for the next work day. As one who loves to food prep for the week ahead, this was a dream come true!

According to several manufacturing websites, when freezing smoothies, wide mouthed glass jars, like canning jars, work well. Be sure to leave a gap at the top of the jar to allow for expansion. Smoothies can safely remain frozen for up to three months and still retain their nutritional value. When ready to use, simply take one out of the freezer the day/evening before, and allow it to thaw overnight.

“All berries and their juices — including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, acai berries, goji berries, elderberries, and strawberries — are superfoods.” — Joel Fuhrman

Reading through my list of ingredients, keep in mind that I am a petite, older woman whose calories and nutritional needs are on the lower end. Additionally, I do not have one of the top of the line blender, like a Vitamix or Blendtec. Therefore, if you are larger and/or younger, and have a top-notch blender, feel free to double any of the ingredients according to your nutritional needs or taste preferences. (Personally, if my blender could handle it, I’d add a full cup of both fruits instead of ½ cup of each!)

“Indian gooseberry (amla powder) may promote heart health, provide anti-aging effects, improve immune function, and reduce heartburn severity and cancer risk.” — SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

I call this recipe my super immunity smoothie because every ingredient serves multiple nutritional purposes. Dark leafy greens, amla powder, and spices are important for heart/vascular health and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe gel is excellent for digestive/gut health, skin, and maintains blood sugar levels. Walnuts and flaxseeds are healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health and cholesterol regulation.

Berries and other fruits are full of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. Many of the ingredients are loaded with vitamin C, improve brain function, lower one’s risk for cancer, and boost the immune system. Plus, the recipe is versatile when it comes to swapping out choices of fresh or frozen fruits and greens, nuts/seeds and spices. Change up the amounts, swap out the ingredients, and even add your protein powder if desired!

“Dark leafy greens have been shown to help the endothelial lining of your blood vessels, cutting inflammation, and helping blood cells to glide through your arteries.” — Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep on saying it: If you don’t have time for a sit-down breakfast, then make your own whole-food smoothie. You can control the contents, you can make them ahead, there are no unpronounceable additives/chemicals, and no added ingredients that you don’t want. Best of all, you can make them in batches, freeze them, and have portable punch of nutrition at the ready. Homemade green smoothies check all the boxes for nutritional well-being. Even on the most hectic, crazy days, you can start your day with a smoothie and know that if everything else goes wrong, at least one step toward your well-being was accomplished!

From my home to yours, I wish you healthy, vibrant, and nutrition filled mornings!

Steph’s Super Immunity Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups of favorite liquid (I typically use water, but if you can afford the calories, pomegranate, blueberry, or cherry juice makes this recipe super sweet and full of antioxidants)

2 cups of favorite leafy greens (I typically combine kale and spinach, but any dark leafy green works!)

¼ cup aloe gel (preferably from inner fillet)

1-2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

1-2 tablespoons flax seeds (Can use chia, hemp or combination thereof.)

1-2 tablespoon alma, if you have it (powdered Indian gooseberries)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon matcha, contents of a cut-open green tea bag, or other favorite greens powder

1 ½ inch fresh or ½ teaspoon powdered turmeric, ginger, or both

¼ teaspoon black pepper (activates turmeric, but feel free to leave out if you don’t like its taste)

1 Medjool date (optional addition for sweetness, fiber)

½-1 cup strawberries or other favorite berries

½-1 cup pineapple or fruit of choice

½-1 banana (I keep these cut up and frozen. You could also replace it with ½ an avocado)

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (I keep sliced lemons on hand and toss in a couple of slices since the pith is full of fiber and vitamin C)

Dash of salt (I use ground pink Himalyan)

Add liquid, aloe gel, and greens first; then, blend well. Blending greens and liquid first works well for less pricey blenders, but may not be necessary if you own a top-of-the-line model.

Add the rest of the ingredients in the blender in the order listed, and blend until smooth.

Divide between glasses.

Can be consumed immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to two days, or freezer for up to 3 months in a jar with a wide mouth — be sure to leave some empty space at top to allow for expansion.

Makes 1 extra large serving or nearly fills 2, 16-ounce bell jar size servings.

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.

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