Creamy green smoothie

It's hard to remember the days before green smoothies at my house. When I lived with my parents, most Saturday mornings involved lounging under the canopy on our backyard patio with hearty whole wheat waffles, loads of dark French-pressed coffee, good conversation, and green smoothies.

Smoothies have become wildly popular in the past couple of years, and as a dietitian and a smoothie lover, I've been soaking it in. When Mike and I got married, we registered for a Vitamix, realizing the likelihood of someone dropping $500 on a blender for us was pretty slim. The first weekend home after our honeymoon, we drove ourselves to Costco with a wad of cash and picked up our very own blending wonder in the 6300 model. No regrets. I also use it to make the greatest hummus.

Smoothies can be amazingly nutrient-dense and delicious with the right combination of ingredients. I had been making this smoothie sans-avocado for some time, but dropping in a big slice of creamy avocado took it to a whole new level. Dreamy, creamy, slightly sweet, and completely nutritious. Fats are necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin D from the dairy, vitamins A and K from the greens), so avocado serves a dual purpose here. But mostly, it's delicious.
There's a vicious, never-ending competition between juices and smoothies in the nutrition world. The juicer people say they get concentrated nutrients in an easily digestible form with freshly extracted juice, while the blender people argue better retention of fiber and whole ingredients by blending. While I think both can be beneficial and provide easy ways to take in more fruits and vegetables, I'm inclined to agree more with the blender folks.

When I toss whole ingredients into a blender and whirl them all together, I know I'm going to end up with the same nutrients as I put in: folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A and K from the greens, vitamin C and antioxidants from the fruit, and omega-3s from the chia seeds. If I sent these same items through a juicer, some juice and undoubtedly some vitamins and minerals will be extracted, and the fibrous skins and other bits that the juicer couldn't liquefy would remain. The majority of nutrients in fruits and vegetables are located in a layer just under the surface of the skin (parents, this is one good reason to avoid peeling fruits and vegetables for your kids if you can - removing the peel also might be removing some nutrients), so it's hard to be sure vitamins and minerals aren't being left behind in the pulp.

There are some great arguments in favor of juicing, and don't get me wrong, I love a fresh glass of juice just as much as anyone. But smoothies are simple: you put good stuff in, you'll get good stuff out. All of it.
Oh, that color.
Creamy green smoothie
Makes 2 12-ounce servings

2/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 of an avocado
Big handful of greens (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen peaches
1 tablespoon chia seeds

Layer the ingredients in your blender from softest to hardest: milk, yogurt, avocado, greens, then frozen fruit. Blend on high for about 60 seconds until smooth. If you need to stop the blender and push ingredients toward the blade, do so. In the last 5 seconds of blending, add the chia seeds to combine. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

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