Healthy Chocolate Banana Smoothies

Healthy Chocolate Banana Smoothies | Kneading Home

During the year I normally alternate between green smoothies, overnight oats, and green juices for breakfast but this summer I've started switching things up with these chocolate banana smoothies. They are sweetened with dates and filled, literally filled, with plant-based protein. 

In an attempt to clean up my diet a bit while I'm off of school this summer I reached out to my brilliant nutritionist friend/guru, Colleen, of Colleen's Nutrition {seriously guys she is the smartest and most helpful person I know when it comes to all things health/food/fitness}. She recommended I start tracking everything I eat through an app. Instead of counting calories she recommended tracking macronutrients in attempt to reduce the amount of carbs {and sugar, damn you sugar} I eat and increase healthy fats and plant-based proteins. It's been challenging, especially give my homemade bread addiction. And trust me, I'm still enjoying bread regularly and eating things like beans, lentils, and quinoa on a daily basis. 

When you're a vegetarian A LOT of people will have opinions about your protein intake. It's SO easy to not have to worry about protein when you eat meat, but as a vegetarian it feels more effortful. I normally roll my eyes at these types of comments, quietly worrying if I actually am getting enough protein. Then you hear leaders of vegan/vegetarian movements talking about how most Americans actually get more than twice the amount of protein they need. So whose right?! Since I've started tracking the results have been quite shocking. I haven't even come close to my recommended daily protein intake, I've been consistently and daily over it! Most women need about 45 grams per day and men need about 55 grams. On some days I've gotten up to 70g! And on my lowest protein days I've still come in at around 50g. 

This smoothie has 25g, that's more than half the protein I need in a day in one meal. I don't know about you but that makes me feel excited and empowered and reinforces the idea that our bodies can be well-served on a plant-based diet. I've got this! Also this smoothie is delicious and leaves me full for hours thanks to the hemp seeds, oats, and almond butter. 

Healthy Chocolate Banana Smoothies | Kneading Home
Healthy Chocolate Banana Smoothies
Makes 1 serving

1 frozen banana
3 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 pitted date
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon cocoa nibs (optional)
large handful of spinach
1 - 1.5 cups almond milk

Add all the ingredients in a blender. Top with 2-3 ice cubes and blend until smooth, adjusting the amount of almond milk until desired thickness is achieved. Feel free to sprinkle cocoa nibs, hemp or chia seeds on top. 

Green Citrus Smoothies + Thoughts on Eating Seasonally

Green Citrus Smoothies {vegan} | Kneading Home

I, like many of you, finally found myself sick with the first cold of the season last week. The combination of travel and lack of sleep did me in. Also, it's that time of year. I found myself sitting at home with a stuffy nose and a foggy head trying to pull myself together enough to be able to teach. Working while sick is rough, but when your work is teaching yoga, complete with demonstrating handstands and not being able to excuse yourself to blow your nose because that would be both awkward and really embarrassing, it's really rough. So I do the best I can, sub out classes, and attempt to heal myself with food. 

Green Citrus Smoothies {vegan} | Kneading Home
Green Citrus Smoothies {vegan} | Kneading Home

The more I think about food, and specifically seasonal food, the more I marvel at how masterfully designed our planet is. Am I getting too spacey for you? Hear me out, because maybe, like myself, you've never really sat back to think about it. It's no coincidence that watery cooling fruits like watermelon and juicy peaches pop into season when everyone is parched by the heat of Summer. It's no coincidence that when the sun goes down early and the seasons change to windy, often turbulent Fall that grounding, hardy, root vegetables like squash, carrots, and potatoes spring up to give us the exact stability most of us lack in the Fall. And it's no coincidence that citrus explodes right during the time of year everyone has colds and needs that extra boost of vitamin c. The earth literally gives us exactly what we need exactly when we need it. It's growing all around us, we just have to open our eyes and utilize it's resources. Mind blown? Mine was. And don't even get me started on how much money you save when you embrace what's in season. Strawberries in February? Common Valentine's day, get it together. This year we did pomegranates

But seriously. It's all about the citrus right now and the timing could not be more perfect. Thank you God/Universe/Divine Spirit/Whatever you choose to believe. It's no coincidence I tell you. 

Green Citrus Smoothies {vegan} | Kneading Home

So today I'm sharing my favorite green citrus smoothie packed with mandarins, spinach, kale, and frozen pineapple. I've been making some version of this pretty much all winter, throwing whole oranges and grapefruits in my vitamix. Because whole citrus can be finicky, I've had the best luck with clementines and mandarins, probably because they have less pulp and fewer seeds. I'll occasionally throw in additional fruit I have on hand, and sometimes add greek yogurt for creaminess - though when I have a cold I avoid dairy like the plague. And this smoothie is fantastic for cold season. You've got your vitamin c from the oranges, and bromelain from the pineapple which apparently helps reduce mucus and clear sinuses (yum!), and spinach + kale which are packed with protein and vitamin A. Woohoo! 

Green Citrus Smoothies {vegan} | Kneading Home

Green Citrus Smoothie 
Makes about 1 quart 

1 medium banana 
1 small handful Kale, de-ribbed (about 5 large leaves)
2 large handfuls baby spinach 
1/2 cup frozen pineapple pieces 
4-5 small mandarins or clementines, peeled
1 1/2 cups almond milk (or any other non-dairy beverage) 

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. 

Summer Peach Breakfast Smoothie

Summer Peach Breakfast Smoothie | Kneading Home

If you're like me and OD'ed on carbs this weekend, this post is for you! This summer I (re)discovered the smoothie. Particularly the breakfast smoothie. Until about June my attempt to eat better breakfasts had been by way of granola, eggs, and oatmeal. But waking up on hot summer mornings, nothing sounded more disgusting to me than warm breakfast. Even the idea of food grossed me out. But smoothies - sweet, cool, and refreshing? Now you're talking. So I started exploring the art of the green smoothie. I realized you can pack in a ton of spinach in and so long as you match it with a little bit of fruit it will taste fantastic. 

As summer began to wind-down, and I started buying peaches like a crazy person, this became my go-to smoothie. It's sweet and creamy, and leaves me full for hours and hours. 

Summer Peach Breakfast Smoothie | Kneading Home
Summer Peach Breakfast Smoothie | Kneading Home

Let me preface this by saying, despite making these sweet treats almost everyday this summer, I do not own a Vitamix. In fact, the blender I've used every morning we recently saw on sale at Target for $15. That's right, hold your laughter please. I survived daily summer smoothies with my husband's old $15 blender from college. #firstworldproblems? And though it wasn't without frustration, if I can do it anyone can. I believe you shouldn't let fancy gadgets hold you back from cooking your little heart out, because I sure as hell don't. 

That being said, can I say, I am currently OBSESSING over Vitamixes online. I never thought I could justify spending $600 on a blender, despite the rave reviews. But then I discovered that they sell certified-reconditioned machines, which are apparently, "almost" like new, and literally cost half the price! So my finger is on the trigger, and with a summer's worth of blender-frustration, I just might pull it.

So Vitamix users, I want your input, is it worth the splurge? Will it really change my life, homemade almond milk and all? 

Summer Peach Breakfast Smoothie | Kneading Home
Summer Peach Breakfast Smoothie | Kneading Home

Summer Peach Breakfast Smoothie 
Makes 1 quart 

1 banana 
1 peach
3 large handfuls baby spinach
1/3 cup frozen mango chunks
1/4 cup greek yogurt (optional)
1 1/4 cup almond milk
2 tbsp ground flax seed

Place all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth. 

Notes: I find if you have a lower-quality blender, like me, placing the ingredients in your blender in the order listed, hugely improves blending ease.