Chocolate Protein Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Chocolate SmoothieYes, I’ve fallen into the “pumpkin everything” trap. I told myself I wouldn’t succumb to those sneaky marketing ploys from the big chains and ignore the fact that it’s already September, and we’re supposed to be falling in line (no pun intended) with the fall-themed script: pumpkin, pumpkin and more pumpkin. I wasn’t going to do it. Wasn’t ready. Wasn’t feeling the pumpkin everything vibe.

But then, you know, this funny thing called pregnancy got the best of me. I saw a recipe for a pumpkin smoothie somewhere and suddenly my mind could not stop thinking about making one. Maybe all the stealthy marketing campaigns got to me. But suddenly, my mind was all pumpkin, and there was no stopping me until I had my fix.

But still another thing happened this week to lead to the creation of this smoothie — another thing that I can definitively blame on my pregnancy. I got my results back for my 1-hour glucose screening test — something I thought I would pass with flying colors, given my pre-pregnancy history of actually having low glucose levels on all my blood tests — and the results were not as I planned. My glucose levels were high. Now, I realize that a lot of women actually have this happen and they do end up passing their 3-hour test when all is said and done, without a diagnosis of gestational diabetes (I take my follow-up test next week, just to be sure). But the initial realization that my glucose was fairly high, along with even the possibility of having gestational diabetes looming in my mind, had me really re-thinking my diet and trying to re-imagine a diet plan if a gestational diabetes diagnosis were in my future.

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Tropical Green Hemp Energy Smoothie

Tropical Green Hemp Energy Smoothie | Delectably FreeI am writing this post on the eve of my 29th birthday. It’s true that, the older you get, birthdays begin to lose some of their luster and lore . But I’m still fond of birthdays, perhaps mostly because I find that they implore reflection and introspection in a way that probably no other day of the year can. Lately, I am all about reflection. I am all about life giving me excuses to try even harder, to be even better, to learn from the past.

My 28th year was marked by personal growth (and really, what year isn’t?). As new homeowners and young adults trying to navigate financial independence, the past year threw us some curveballs and roadblocks, for sure. But I’ve at least learned to be better about one thing: not worrying so much. It’s a struggle, sometimes, to relinquish control and trust that the universe has a plan that is largely beyond my ability to manipulate. All we can do is be the best person we can be…and I’m working on that every day.

Now that I’m entering the last year of my twenties, I’ve had some time to reflect on how I’ve changed over the decade. I think those who know me well will say my personality and essence has remained the same. But I guess no one knows me as well as I know myself, and I can truly say that I have changed in immeasurable ways, and in ways I can’t quite concisely or articulately explain here. If I were to come up with a concise, one-line answer, it would be this:

I’ve become more selfish, and less selfish at the same time.

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Green Power Protein Smoothie

green power protein smoothieEver since hearing Rich Roll speak at the Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnstown, PA earlier this month, I’ve been in “ultra” mode. Essentially, I’ve gone from my usual Jillian Michaels and yoga DVDs and have tried to really push myself and my boundaries and get out of my comfort zone. This was one of the driving themes behind Rich Roll’s speech and his book, Finding Ultra. Of course, my ultra isn’t quite the “ultra” that Rich Roll found. He ran two Ultramans, which is comprised of 6.2 miles of swimming, a 261 mile cross-country bike ride, and then a 52.5 mile run over the course of three days (oh, not to mention running 5 iron mans in 5 days a bit later in his life). My ultra? Running a mere 2 miles. But I’m working my way up! Yesterday, I did a 2 mile run and 1 mile walk. Today, I ran 2.25 miles and walked another .75. So, Ultraman here I come!! (Totally just kidding right there, I am not coming for you, Ultraman. Not at all…)

And even though I am a far cry from ever competing in a marathon — let alone an Ultraman — immersing myself in this world works as a wonderful motivator, which is why I’ve been  listening to a backlog of Rich Roll podcasts on my recent runs. The “ultra” marathon world is all about leaving our comfort zones and pushing boundaries and limits to exceed what we may even think possible for ourselves. Before leaving for PA, I’d said many times (including on this blog) how much I hated running and that I only do it on rare occasions. So the fact that I’ve found myself on the track two days in a row has exceeded any expectations I may have had for myself in the past.

This protein-packed smoothie has been my new favorite after-workout treat. Not only does it actually taste like a treat, but it provides a nice boost of protein for those more active days, while still nourishing your body with fiber and nutrients. It would also make a filling breakfast smoothie or afternoon snack for those long days at the office.

Green Power Protein Smoothie (single-serving): 

Ingredients: 

1 cup soy milk (almond or rice milk would also work, but not as high in protein)

1 large handful baby spinach or baby kale

1 large collard leaf or curly kale leaf

1/2 large banana, frozen, or 1 small frozen banana

1/2 cup frozen diced pineapple or mango

1 tablespoon vegan protein powder (I used HealthForce Superfoods Purity Protein Enhanced)*

1 packet stevia

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender (such as Vitamix) and blend until smooth, or until desired texture is reached. If not using a high-powered blender, I would suggest using more soy milk to start and blending greens first, before adding other ingredients.

* Don’t have protein powder on hand? Try 1-2 tablespoons chia seeds instead for a natural protein option. 

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Blueberry-Mango-Carrot Smoothies

blueberry mango carrot smoothie

As many of you know by now from either following me on Instagram or reading this blog, my main go-to morning smoothie is a detoxifying green smoothie, made using greens, fruits, lemon and water. I may add chlorella or flax seed from time to time, but generally try to keep these smoothies to whole plant foods. However, I occasionally try to vary my morning smoothie from time-to-time, and when I do, I like to opt for a creamier option — usually with dairy-free milk and berries, and many times with avocado for added creaminess. Gennaro likes to refer to these as the “fun smoothies” (can you guess which he prefers?)

But as much as I love a “fun smoothie”, meals sometimes seem like a waste to me if I’m not making sure it’s providing ample health benefits as well. I designed this recipe to provide loads of vitamins, antioxidants and “healthy fats” in the form of avocado, while still tasting “fun” and fruity. Here’s a breakdown of the health benefits of the various ingredients (sourced from a number of web resources):

  • Blueberry: Many people know about blueberries as a high antioxidant berry (I’ve seen sources rank them as the highest antioxidant fruit). They also contain fiber and Vitamin C.
  • Mango: Mangoes also contain antioxidants and have high levels of vitamin C. They help balance pH in the body, and of course, contain fiber.
  • Carrots: Most people know that carrots contain high amounts of Vitamin A and are also a great source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant. They can also purify the blood and aid in liver detoxification.
  • Avocado: This sneaky ingredient not only adds creaminess to your smoothie, but are also high in healthy fats which can lower bad cholesterol and nourish the skin. They are also high in fiber, making this smoothie one that should help to keep you full throughout the morning. Avocado also contains other vitamins to help maintain optimum health.

I think the advent of the Vitamix made smoothie aficionados of all of us, myself most definitely included. While I certainly made smoothies in the past, the Vitamix made it an everyday thing. Unfortunately, as far as kitchen equipment goes, it is not cheap. And I would most certainly not have been able to afford one had I not gotten married and had very generous in-laws gift us with one. However, if you’re using a regular blender, I have a few suggestions for this recipe: increase the amount of liquid slightly and decrease the amount of frozen fruits. I am not sure how well the carrot pulverizes in a blender, but you could try adding it in slowly and see what happens. While I love and am completely devoted to my Vitamix, I am certainly not living under some Gwyneth Paltrow-esque rock, thinking everyone can afford a luxury like this (heck, I’m an attorney and I couldn’t even afford one if it hadn’t been gifted to me. I guess that’s a downfall of going into an area of the law where you’re “helping people”, rewarding as it may be). I made many a smoothie using my regular ol’ Cuisinart blender during my law school days without much of a problem — just a bit more coaxing with an old fashioned spoon.

Yield: 2 large or 3 smaller smoothies (halve portions if making a single-serving)

Ingredients:

3 cups cold, unsweetened dairy-free milk (I alternate between soy and almond; use non-soy dairy-free milk for soy-free option)

1 heaping cup frozen blueberries

1 cup frozen mango chunks

1/2 cup carrot, roughly chopped

1/2 large or one small avocado, skin and pit removed

1-2 packets stevia, or sweetener to taste

Directions:

1. Add dairy-free milk, blueberries, mango chunks and carrot to a high-powered blender such as Vitamix. Blend until smooth.

2. Add 1/2 avocado and blend. For more creaminess, add remaining avocado. Add sweetener to taste. Blend until smooth.

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Tropical Green Detox Smoothie

Oh, the holidays. For some reason, my mind (and body) can’t decide whether they’re a welcome escape from the everyday grind — a time to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends — or whether the holiday season is an energy-sapping grind in itself, leaving me longing to return to the monotony of my 9-5 (more like 9-7) routine. Whatever the verdict, there’s no denying that my body could use a return to something at least resembling monotony. Between the Christmas-in-California jet lag to the New Years Eve late night to the endless holiday parties, I can slowly feel the energy draining from my bodily cells. Tonight, with a few hours of unclaimed time available for relaxation, there are hopes of much-needed blogging catch-up and some quality reading, but I’ll be lucky to stay awake past 10 p.m. at the rate I’m going.

In a similar way, I am also eager to reset my eating habits to the pre-holiday status quo. As much as I got a little tired of the morning power smoothie routine, nothing is sounding better than a cleansing drink after weeks of breakfast randomness. My California vacation breakfasts consisted often of leftovers from the previous night’s carry out dinner, while just this morning I preceded yet another trip to the airport with a breakfast consisting of brownies and pizza (albeit gluten-free, vegan pizza, of course).

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