As much as I love to cook and eat real, whole food, I don’t always have time to sit down to enjoy a meal. Though I never skip breakfast, I often have to eat in the car on the way to work. Sometimes I’ll settle for a handful of nuts and black coffee or a hardboiled egg, but bland eating does nothing for my spirit (which need serious lifting before work). Beautiful overnight oats and other breakfast treats are transportable, but some mornings I go straight from my car to a meeting and don’t make it to my desk until lunch time.
Smoothies have been widely popular for about 20 years now – I remember when Jamba Juice opened its first D.C. shop. I used to be so proud of myself bopping away from the counter with a brightly colored, sticky sweet frozen drink in my hot little hand. Of course, back then no one wanted to hear about the levels of added sugar swirled in with their nutritional “boosts” and acai super fruit. Other popular smoothie shops such as Robeks and Tropical Smoothie also use sweetened frozen yogurts and sorbets in several of their drinks.
Luckily, smoothies have evolved as quickly as they have risen in established popularity. Not only have the above chains added healthier options to their menus, smoothie shops who focus on clean, whole ingredients have proliferated nationwide, which range from brick and mortar shops, like Liquiteria and Kale Me Crazy, to mobile trucks like Zugo in Los Angeles. When time is tight and I can’t decide what to eat, I know I can run to the local smoothie joint and grab a quick liquid lunch that will tie me over until my daily 3:30 pm snack attack.
As with many whole and healthy foods, however, there can be a significant markup in price – some places will set you back more than ten bucks for some kale and pineapple swirled together – but by no means is the ability to enjoy a creative and thrifty smoothie out of reach. All you need is a good blender, a freezer, and you’re set. No recipe ideas? Check out Simple Green Smoothies and Green Blender for delicious smoothie recipes using easy-to-find ingredients. Just chop up the ingredients and freeze in advance so they’re ready to blend up quickly when you are in a rush.
If you don’t have the time (or motivation) to do your own prep, check out Daily Harvest. These smoothies are hella good (including my beloved Carrot + Chia with sweet potatoes, banana, walnuts, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon) and you get a box of 6 to 24 cups to store in your freezer until ready to use. Each cup blends up into a perfect smoothie which you pour back into the cup, pop on the lid, insert a straw, and go. True, you have to subscribe but it is very easy to skip a week or month – it is also easy to cancel. Each smoothie shakes out to be about $7.50 a piece, which is more expensive that making your own but cheaper than many smoothie shops.
I don’t drink a smoothie every day, but I do drink several a week. When I do, I know that I’m helping to meet my daily nutrition goals while sipping on something delicious that makes me full and happy.