Start the New Year Right: Green Smoothie Recipe

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to drink more Green Smoothies.  I am having so much fun with my Blendtec blender, and I loved this recipe for Green Smoothie. Even my son, Zachary, who is 10 years old, drank an entire glass. If you’re skeptical, just try it. It’s my newest favorite recipe for breakfast or afternoon pick me up.

Check out 10 awesome health benefits of drinking Green Smoothies below:

1. It boosts your energy level

2. Adds fiber to your diet which aids in digestion and eliminates toxins.

3. Reduces mood swings

4. Promotes weight loss

5. Stabilizes blood sugar levels

6. Increased antioxidant intake which helps protect against diseases

7. Helps with healthy, radiant skin

8. Increased intake of fruits and vegetables

9. Reduces unhealthy food cravings

10. Enhances the immune system

Acai Pomegranate Smoothie and Blendtec Blender Giveaway

I hope everyone has had a great holiday weekend. Did you go shopping? I am so excited about sharing my recipe for Acai Pomegranate Smoothie (my kid’s favorite). It tastes great, and it’s full of vitamins and antioxidants. Now, I can’t wait to announce my Blendtec Blender giveaway: One lucky winner will receive the Total Blender Combo including the Fourside and Wildside Jar, a $474 value. This blender is my newest all-time favorite all-in-one kitchen appliance. Not only does it make the best smoothies, but I have used it to prepare dips, fondues, ice cream, salad dressings, sauces, soups, milkshakes and even bread dough.

My kids have been making smoothies and milkshakes daily, and I feel great letting them try different fruits and yogurts to create new concoctions. Whether you’re in college, single or have a family, using a Blendtec is a great way to stay healthy this time of year. The winner will be able to choose a white, red or black model, and this is one of the best holiday presents ever.

To enter this giveaway, follow the steps below. Winner will be chosen by random.org on Thursday, December 1st, at 9 a.m EST.

1. Follow Alison Lewis on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know

2. Like Ingredients, Inc. on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know

3. Follow Alison Lewis on Pinterest  and leave a comment letting me know

 4. Follow Blendtec on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know

5. Like Blendtec on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know know

6. Join the Blendtec Mailing list and leave a comment letting me know

7. Join the Ingredients, Inc. email list and leave a comment letting me know

8. Tweet about this giveaway by mentioning the following or something similar:  check out @alisonlewis @Blendtec giveaway just in time for the holidays

Greek Yogurt 101 and Recipes

Not only is yogurt great for a nutritious snack or breakfast, researchers are finding that eating yogurt can help fight infections, aid in weight loss, boost the immune system, fight osteoporosis, reduce high blood pressure, aid in digestive problems and even add years to your life. Yogurt is also a great source of protein, calcium, zinc, B12, magnesium and even potassium. Not a day goes by that I don’t eat it (honest). My favorite, by far, is the nonfat or reduced-fat Greek yogurt. One (6-ounce) container of nonfat Greek yogurt contains 100 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrates and 18 grams of protein with no fat and only 65 mg of sodium.

How to choose yogurt

-Choose low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt for best nutritional results. I prefer nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt because it is very high in protein and low in fat, carbohydrates and sodium.

-Look at the ingredient list for added sweeteners and artificial colors.

-Check the calories and carbohydrates on the label to find the ones with the least amount of sweetener.

-Look for the words “live culture”, “active culture” or “live active culture” on the label. This type of yogurt contains probiotic cultures that help regulate your digestive system.

-Be sure to check the date of expiration before you consume it.

How to store yogurt:

-Refrigerate yogurt as soon as you purchase it. Store it on your cooler shelves in the refrigerator.

-Be sure the yogurt is tightly sealed

-Once opened, be sure to seal it properly and store in the refrigerator.

-If you buy the freshest yogurt, it can usually be stored for up to 2 weeks depending on the date of the package. Your best bet is to use it as soon as you can after purchase.

-Do not freeze yogurt. This will affect he quality, texture and flavor.

I took a poll on Facebook, and here are some of my facebook friends’ and my favorite ways to use yogurt:

-Use in smoothies and shakes

-Eat for breakfast with almonds and blueberries

-Stir in bananas and walnuts

-Stir in granola cereal and fresh peaches or strawberries

-Use on top of baked potatoes instead of sour cream

-Use instead of mayonnaise in tuna salad

-Use on tacos or taco salad

-Use in layered dips or vegetable dips instead of sour cream

-Use in a tzatziki sauce, white barbecue sauce or tartar sauce recipe

-Stir in homemade jams

-Drain the excess water from Greek yogurt and use in coffee like creme fraiche

For a few of my favorite recipes (photos above), check out the following links:

Banana Bread with Yogurt

Banana Dark Chocolate Muffins with Greek Yogurt

Apricot and Almond Coffee Cake

Easy Pork Fajitas

Saucepan Popcorn Recipe & Healthy Back to School Snack Ideas

Since school just started back, I am trying to start the year off right. I try to be creative and point my kids in the right direction when it comes to packing healthy lunches and providing after-school snacks that are good for them. My three children love this recipe for Saucepan Popcorn which is so easy and healthier than the other popcorn alternatives. Here are some other quick ideas for when you are in a hurry that have a nice balance of protein, fiber and carbohydrates:

Healthy Snacks Ideas for Kids:

Trail Mix

Homemade Smoothies

Homemade Granola

Healthier Banana Bread

Other Ideas:

Reduced Sodium Cottage Cheese with fruit

Whole grain crackers with cheese

Greek yogurt with honey and fruit

Apple and Skim Milk

Almond or Peanut Butter and Banana

Hummus with carrots and celery Nut Butter on graham crackers

Hard boiled eggs

10 Ways to Avoid Cravings

While I was out of town in Park City last week, I realized that I never craved or had one Diet Coke. I usually think of myself as pretty healthy, and a mostly “clean” eater, but over the past few months I have an off-and-on again relationship with Diet Coke. I am only talking about one a day, but still, I try to keep soft drinks at a distance. It really got me thinking about cravings. Now, you might think I’m being silly, but everyone does have their particular “vice” whether it’s candy, chocolate, chips, French fries or even soft drinks. To help you and me, I thought I would jot down some tips on how to avoid cravings:

1. Don’t give in– One of my friends once told me that the more sugar (or salt) you eat the more you crave it. This is so true. Once I start with Peanut M & M’s, I can’t stop, and I continue to crave them until they are completely out of my house. Don’t buy them, and you won’t be tempted as often.

2. Note your trigger foods– Take note by writing down what your “trigger” foods are. Then, stay away from them. Awareness will help you think twice when you crave your trigger foods. Keep your “trigger” foods at bay, and don’t bring them into your house or surroundings.

3. Stay in control– If you are surrounded by your trigger food at a party or at work, keep control.  For example, if it’s a doughnut, take a small bite or portion if you must, and push the plate away when you’re done.

4. Eat protein along with fat (healthy fats)– Eating snacks that contain protein along with fat will keep you satisfied longer. If you’re craving ice cream or sugary desserts, opt for Greek yogurt with honey and nuts, reduced-fat cottage cheese or fresh vegetables with hummus.

5. Bake something healthy– I love to bake homemade granola or mini muffins to have on hand. Homemade fresh baked goods are a wonderful substitute for junk food.

6. Stay on schedule– Try to eat 3 meals a day and two healthy snacks, so you don’t get overly hungry. Staying on a schedule will help curb cravings.

7.  Drink water and chew gum– A friend once told me this helped her stay away from eating while she was cooking. It helps when you have cravings too.

8. Make homemade smoothies– Use fresh fruit, fresh juice, Greek or low-fat yogurt to make fresh smoothies. These are a wonderful alternative to sugary desserts.

9. Drink green tea– Green tea is filled with so many healthy benefits. Substitute it for that afternoon soda, coffee or packaged snack (I need to do this more).

10. Don’t deprive yourself– Eat something healthy at the end of each meal or occasionally award yourself with a “splurge” meal. My friend, Sandra, brings dark chocolate to every lunch date we have. She eats it at the end of her meals so she satisfies her sweet tooth.

 

Healthy Pomegranate Blueberry Smoothie

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Smoothies are very popular at my house. We make them several times a week, even in the wintertime for dessert, as an afternoon snack or for breakfast. My kids love to try new concoctions, which is great because we are always using fresh, healthy ingredients such as yogurt, fresh fruits and fresh juices not from concentrate. I am thrilled to indulge in smoothies as well as providing the kids with something so healthy that boosts energy levels, fills you up and makes you feel great. Sometimes I even sneak in a couple of tablespoons of wheat germ, crushed flaxseed, and they don’t even know it. Try this recipe or make one of your own as a fresh start to the New Year.


Pomegranate-Blueberry Smoothie

Prep: 5 minutes

Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients

2 (6-ounce) containers low-fat strawberry yogurt (I used Dannon Light/Fit)

3/4 cup pomegranate juice such as Pom

1 tablespoon honey

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 banana

11/2 cups cubed or crushed ice

Preparation

1. Combine all ingredients in an electric blender and process until smooth and frothy. Serve immediately.