It’s strawberry season! Whether you are taking the kids to a patch to pick your own, or just running through the market, be sure to buy a few pints before it’s over. I love strawberries this time of year. You can use them in salads, create a simple dessert, or throw them in scones for a quick but impressive and indulgent breakfast. For a healthy snack, I decided to whip up a Strawberry Protein Smoothie. It’s quick, easy and is a crowd pleaser for my kids and super picky hubby.
Like most moms, the struggle to find kid and husband approved healthy meals and snacks is real. I do a decent job, but when they really like something, it’s worth sharing. Earlier this year, I posted our go-to green smoothie. I drink it almost every day, but for a little variety, this bright and sweet strawberry smoothie is the perfect breakfast or post workout drink.
Summer Strawberry Protein Smoothie
Summer Strawberry Protein Smoothie
Makes 2 Servings
2 cups fresh strawberries
1 ripe medium banana
1 – 2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (measurement varies on the kind of consistency you like.)
1 scoop of protein powder
1 package of Vital Proteins
1 pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract.
Throw everything in a blender, and in seconds you have a nutritious and delicious meal or mid-afternoon pick me up. I add a tiny pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt to bring out the sweetness (plus take advantage of some of its health benefits) and a little splash of pure vanilla extract for some depth of flavor.
Take your smoothies on the go with these plastic cups and lids. I know they’re not very environmentally friendly, but frankly, every time I buy fancy cups and bottles to reuse, my kids lose every single one of them. So I make sure we toss them in the recycling, and we use these stainless, reusable straws.
By now, we know the basic facts about food. Sugar, white flour, processed foods and certain fats are bad. Protein, whole grains, vitamin-rich fruits, and vegetables, along with healthy fats, are good.
That is where the simplicity ends, and things get complicated. As we age, we deal with allergies and intolerances, inflammation, and shifts in our hormones. Different foods affect people differently. With advances in science, we discover that eating certain foods together at certain times allows our bodies to absorb more of the nutrients and optimize their effectiveness.
Of course, the endless parade of trend diets, gurus, pills, drinks, and shakes we’re sold on social media, all claiming to have the answer becomes completely overwhelming, especially when we are just looking for easy ways to eat healthy.
My Struggle with Weight
It might be surprising to hear that I struggled with my weight and overall health for years. In my teens and twenties, I was the stereotypical girl who ate whatever she wanted and never gained a pound.
I was waif-like, with a six-pack I did not deserve, thanks to an abnormally fast metabolism and good genes. Because of that, I never learned how to eat well as an adult and developed bad habits.
After I had my youngest, via my second C-section, I entered my thirties with a body ravaged by pregnancies that resulted in long-term internal damage and a dwindling metabolism.
For years I went on a diet and exercise roller coaster trying to get rid of the last of my baby weight. I did everything from crazy workouts, like, <insert eye roll> flipping tires, where of course I got injured. I drank every shake, took any magic pill, and bought anything on TV that promised to be the solution to long-term weight loss.
Then, three years ago I stepped on the scale and burst into tears. The number staring up at me wasn’t just my heaviest weight, but a moment of reckoning. I was at my absolute unhealthiest. I was lethargic, depressed, my skin was a disaster, and I was profoundly unhappy.
What was crazy is that I was still regularly working out up to 3 – 4 times a week. That’s when I finally understood the saying, “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.”
I had slowly gained weight over a two-year time span. I found myself continually traveling for work. I was living in hotels and airports, working long days on my feet. I was so overwhelmed with work I couldn’t see straight. I often lived on coffee, would frequently skip breakfast, sometimes lunch too, and then have to go to a work dinner or run to the airport.
When I was home, it was chaotic, and I mindlessly ate. The day I stood on that scale I decided no more fad diets. I need a lifestyle change and a diet that didn’t sabotage my workouts.
I had to take responsibility for every time:
I put something unhealthy in my mouth
I didn’t pack healthy snacks for trips
I indulged in comfort food over healthy food at the airport
I drank wine because I was stressed, sad, overwhelmed, or bored
It was a brutal lesson. I was ashamed and so frustrated with myself. It’s hard to acknowledge when you knew better but didn’t do better. The only thing I could do is commit to better habits and learn as much as possible. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Here are the steps I took that helped me lose 35 pounds without a fad or super restrictive diet. The good news is you don’t have to eat like Tom and Gisele (who doesn’t eat tomatoes?) to have a clean and healthy diet.
When I’m feeling especially ambitious, I make this baked oatmeal recipe. The only thing I do differently is to bake them in muffin cups we so can grab them when we run out the door. My kids love them.
Keep healthy snacks on hand
I heard this tip for years but never took it seriously. I figured a fridge full of cut veggies would go to waste in my house. I was shocked when I gave it a try and saw my kids munching on carrots and celery with something that resembled enthusiasm.
Now we keep crudite with hummus in the fridge, have apples with almond butter, small containers of greek yogurt, and everyone’s favorite, avocado and gluten-free toast as snacks throughout the day. (We’re purists with avocado toast. Just mash the avocado, add some lime, a pinch of sea salt and red pepper flakes.)
Hard “no” on the bad stuff
At this point, we are a pretty clean house. We do not eat white sugar or white flower, we try to eliminate gluten, avoid unhealthy fats, and limit caffeine. My goal is to keep our good habits at 80%, so when we do indulge, we can thoroughly enjoy it. I don’t want my kids to have a complex around a slice of birthday cake, but understand a treat is just that – a treat.
I grew up watching my mom grocery shop for the week, so for years, that’s what I did. Once we started to focus on eating fresh and organic, it became obvious that I was going to have to shop about every four days. It’s kind of a bummer.
Luckily, I found a local store that has everything I need, and I can get in and out in 20 minutes. While it’s hard to add more time to our already saturated schedule, we waste less and eat so much better.
Make simple, healthy swaps
At first, I found making simple swaps incredibly intimidating. Then I got over myself, buckled down, and realized if I can make two people and build a business I can learn how to cook with coconut oil.
I saw and felt immediate results when I swapped out:
Butter and Vegetable Oil < Coconut Oil,
AP Flour < Whole Wheat, Almond, Coconut, or Spelt Four
Half and Half < Almond Milk creamer (I love Califia Farm)
Go dry on weeknights
This girl loves a glass of wine, so going dry is not something I’m willing to do. But the empty calories and amount of sugar I was drinking was affecting my energy levels, skin, and waistline. Amazingly, when I pull back on booze, I eliminate bloat, get the glow back in my skin, and sleep 1000x’s better, instantly.
A Swell bottle is nice to have in your bag as it keeps water cold for hours. If you are traveling, you can fill it up at water stations at the airport.
You don’t have to do everything at once, rather ease yourself into each habit.
The most important thing you can do as you try to incorporate better eating habits is to educate yourself on why certain foods are better than others. Yes, it takes effort, but your health and the health of your family is worth it.
I love green smoothies. They are a quick and easy way to have a healthy meal filled with nutrients that you may otherwise miss during the day. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of breakfast foods. For years, I skipped the first meal of the day. When I was younger, less busy and, indeed, less stressed, it didn’t affect me much. Now, between regular exercise, working all day, and everything that goes into being a mom of two, if I don’t eat in the morning, I’m light-headed and “hangry” by 11 a.m.
As a mom, I feel like I spend a ton of time managing everyone’s blood sugar. These days, my kids are as busy as me. Finding something clean and healthy to fuel our days and help prevent us all from crashing mid-day is incredibly important. It’s also important that whatever I give them tastes great. I can drink anything (ha, ha, insert all the jokes). Put a bunch of fruits and veggies in a blender, and I can down it no matter how funky it tastes. My kids and husband are another story.
They say ridiculous things like, “I can taste how green it is.”
What does that even mean?
After much trial and error, I found that the combination of ingredients below makes this green smoothie a total winner. It’s fresh and sweet and blends well. Anything too thick and they don’t like it, and it takes too much time to drink. Given a chance, they labor over their breakfasts like they’re at a five-star restaurant.
We don’t have time for that.
You can whip this together in the time it takes to make instant oatmeal or toast a waffle. If you do your weekly prep on Sundays (I salute you), you can throw all of the ingredients into a freezer bag, and you cut your time in half. Recently, I invested in a Vitamix and loved it, but a NutriBullet work just as well. In fact, when we go to the shore in the summer, I pack my NutriBullet and make these every morning.
My Go-To, Easy and Delicious Green Smoothie
Makes 2 Servings
2 cups Baby Spinach
1/2 cup Frozen Mango
1/2 cup Frozen Pineapple
1 cup of Green Tea (brewed and cooled – I do this at night and keep in the fridge for the morning. Use decaf or skip altogether for kids.)
1 cup coconut water, coconut milk or almond mik
1 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp ground chia seeds