Thursday, December 4, 2014

Daily Smoothies--Making It Local

People who know me know I love my daily smoothies. It is my morning ritual each day to get up and scavenge through the fridge and freezer and counter for fruit and vegetables to go into my smoothies. Every so often it strikes me how much of what I put into my smoothies was free--locally grown (or the cost of getting to it). The picture above is the "stuff" that went into today's smoothie. All those nice, neat bags of frozen stuff belie the hard work it took to get them there! Here's a run-down of where it all came from:

Kale:  The purple leafy stuff in front is kale from our church garden. No one cleaned it up this year so the kale is still going strong. Every so often I go and pick more for my massaged kale, kale chips and smoothies. I have lots of kale frozen in the freezer for when it finally gets cold enough that our kale is either buried under the snow or killed (many frosts and snow haven't hurt it yet!).

Rhurbarb: The jar to the left of the kale is canned rhubarb from my patch. A couple summers ago (before my kids started harvesting my rhubarb to sell to Bear Creek Winery) I canned up a huge batch and have been eating it since, throwing it in smoothies and my wildberry crisp. I also have frozen rhubarb as well, which I will use when my canned stuff is gone.

Carrots:  A couple days ago we used up our last fresh carrot from the garden. It was a sad day as we use lots of carrots. Now we have carrots from the garden frozen. If I had a root cellar the carrots could keep in sawdust all winter. And actually the carrots that we harvested 6 or 7 weeks ago that were in the fridge were doing just fine. I like to put some in the freezer to have them cleaned and ready to throw into soups and stews...and smoothies.

Apples:  Next to the carrots are a bag of apples. Someone had an overabundance of apples this year and gave us 4 boxes of them. I made applesauce, but then a friend suggested just cutting them up and putting them in the freezer. That was news to me that you could do that, so for the rest of them that is what I did. They have been a wonderful addition to my smoothies, and a much cheaper alternative than buying them at $1.79-$2.99 a pound at the grocery store. That was an amazing gift getting apples!

Blueberries:  To the right of the apples are the blueberries, picked across the bay this summer. I'm a super lazy person when it comes to blueberries:  after I pick them they go into bags and right into the freezer without washing, so I often have to pick out the leaves (or leave them in!) when they go into the smoothies. This year was crazy-amazing blueberry year so I think I have enough to last me all winter for daily smoothies.

Zucchini:  In front of the blueberries is frozen zucchini slices. I tried slicing zucchini rather than shredding them this year for a few packages and discovered that they are mushy and disgusting so I am using them up in my smoothies.

Orange juice concentrate:  I put a couple tablespoons of orange juice concentrate in to sweeten my smoothies, if I don't have oranges. The concentrate is much cheaper though, lasts longer, and doesn't go bad. Usually I just use our oranges if they were bad and the kids won't eat them. Ironically, the kids like eating the orange juice concentrate for a snack.

Flaxseed:  I alternate between adding a few teaspoons of flaxseed or wheat germ. I accidentally bought two packages of flaxseed, not realizing I already had one at home, so for now I dump in flaxseed. Plus, Costco sells it so it is cheaper than wheat germ.

Protein powder:  Also a product of Costco, using protein powder is something I just started doing a couple months ago. I got a vanilla-flavored one so I no longer add vanilla (I always used to put in a teaspoon or so). There are 100 calories in one scoop, and what I've found is that it makes the smoothie smoother. This is a "keeper" that I suspect I would miss if I did not add. Luckily, a bag will last me 5-6 months since they are like $40 for the black bag you see in the picture.

Banana:  Not pictured, bananas are a staple "must" in the smoothies, as they also make the texture smoother. When Save-U-More has older bananas on sale for .60 cents/pound I stock up, peel them, wrap them in saran wrap and pop them in the freezer. Presto! The kids like eating frozen bananas for snacks also. 

Walnuts:  Also not pictured, I toss in a handful of walnuts in my smoothies, a habit from before protein powder to increase the protein content of smoothies. I still do...habit.

Rosehips, raspberries, celery, lettuce, broccoli, spinach--just about any other fruit or vegetable that is in my fridge and is going bad or not getting eaten or has been in the freezer awhile gets thrown in my smoothies.

The key to this entire system is the Vitamix--a $400 blender that turns it into a smoothie in moments. The Vitamix was one of the best presents I have ever received--and certainly one of the most used!  The freezer to store all the food in is an essential key too, and I don't have a huge second freezer so I have to plan what is most important to go into it. My smoothie makings probably take up a third of the space, vegetables for the family a third and fish a third.

I take my Vitamix out to my office with my smoothie cup and drink my breakfast at my leisure as I work each day. Yum!

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