When the colder weather arrives, there’s one health-related question I hear more than most: How can you drink smoothies in the fall and winter? Usually, the person is also silently asking how it is that they can manage to drink one in the winter, too, without feeling like an icicle. I can give some answers to this, but I think one must also consider why it is they want the smoothie in the first place. There are three major reasons that smoothies are a go-to breakfast choice for people:
1) Raw greens are your morning power food.
I know I feel this way. If I don’t have anything green in the morning, I feel like something is missing. Having greens in the morning, raw greens usually, gives me the same “ready to take on the day” feeling that people get from coffee, and without the slump later in the day.
2) You love having a blended breakfast.
I know I’m not alone in that I like something light and easily digestible in the mornings. It’s not very nice to bombard your digestive system with a heavy meal after fasting all night long, is it? When I ease in to eating, my body thanks me for it.
3) Smoothies are convenient.
What’s quicker than pouring nut milk into a blender pitcher, adding in a few pieces of fruit and a handful of greens, and blending away? The cleanup is even fast, and the end product is super portable.Now that we know why we want smoothies in the winter, let’s find some options for those who just don’t want their beloved green drink when it’s cold.
Get your morning greens and digest easily
There are a couple changes you can make to accommodate your need for greens in the morning. Try having green juice alongside an oat or grain porridge. If you miss the creaminess of a smoothie, you can cook grains that you’ve ground up into a flour or try blending them after cooking. You’ll have a creamy bowl of porridge! Not only is it a filling breakfast, but you can squeeze even more green goodness into a juice than a smoothie. If you don’t have a juicer, you can either blend and strain the juice through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, or you can buy a quality green food powder to have along with whatever you eat for breakfast.
If it’s not just raw greens that do the trick for you in the a.m., a vegetable saute with dark leafy greens is a beautiful breakfast. You can add in anything you’d like: beans, sweet potatoes, tempeh, a cooked grain, or whatever strikes your fancy. Some of these foods may be too much for you in the mornings. But you know your body and what feels good to eat in the morning, so tailor these suggestions to your wants.
Get the convenience factor
Getting a high quality green powder, as I mention above, is as convenient as it gets. I think these powders are nice to have on hand, but they shouldn’t be relied upon for healthy breakfasts everyday. In the end, if you want options, you have to be flexible. Wash and cut your juicing produce the night before. Overnight oats or muesli are both fast and convenient options for hurried mornings. If you need something warm, rolled oats cook up in minutes. Add in warming spices, fruit, and nuts and you’re done.Speaking of wanting to stay warm….
I covered why people want to drink smoothies, but didn’t expand upon why they feel they can’t. Um, it’s cold!!! For some people, smoothies just aren’t going to happen in the colder months, which is totally fine (try some of the suggestions I mention above), but for those who want to find a way, these following suggestions will be useful.
- Seasonal foods are your friend. Nature adjusts with the seasons and so must we. That means changing the way you think about building your smoothie. In the summer, I want banana soft serve all day everyday, I love sipping on a cool mango smoothie, and I can sit down and eat half of a watermelon with a spoon. In the winter however? Not so much. Sticking with seasonal fruits — apples, pears, cranberries, etc. — helps make winter smoothies more doable.
- Spices are your friend, too. (you have a lot of friends!) I like to use warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cayenne, turmeric, and ginger (fresh and dried) in my smoothies. For a few days, I’ll put a tsp of cinnamon in, then maybe switch to 1/2 tsp allspice for a few days. You can even use spice blends like pumpkin pie or chai spice blends.
- Don’t shy away from fats. Adding a sensible amount of fat to your smoothies, and your diet, during the fall and winter can make a real difference in how cold you feel. Try a handful of nuts or seeds in your smoothie or some coconut oil, the latter of which will help to boost your metabolism and keep you warm.
- Just say no to frozen. If you do use frozen fruit, don’t make it more than about 1/3 cup of berries or 1/2 banana. Otherwise, it starts to really cool down the drink which cools your body when you drink it. I try to make my smoothies about the same temperature that I like my water. (and I hope you’re drinking water throughout the day!)
- Experiment with different smoothies. If you’re making the same smoothies that satisfy in the summer, it’s no wonder that you’re turned off by them when it’s cold. Browse around on the internet and in cookbooks, looking for some that might work when it’s colder. Two that I can consistently drink no matter the weather are Ricki Heller’s Protein-Rich Cranberry Oat Smoothie and Kimberly Snyder’s GGS (Glowing Green Smoothie). And while you’re here, you may as well give my apple pie smoothie a go!Autumn Apple Pie Green Smoothie
- 3/4 cup apple cider
- 2 small apples, any sweet variety
- 1 stalk of celery
- 1/2 romaine heart (~2 cups chopped and loosely packed)
- 3 Tbsp walnuts
- 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- dash of cloves
- 3-5 drops of lemon stevia (opt.) or a spritz of fresh lemon juice
-Place all ingredients in the blender, greens last, and blend until smooth.
Tips: If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you may need to add a bit more liquid. If so, add in a 1/4 cup of water or cider and continue blending.