The Easiest Green Smoothie You’ll Ever Make

Ingredients for a green smoothie

Why Green Smoothies?

In order to support a heavy training load, I consume an abundance of vegetables. Preparing and eating this many vegetables is time-consuming, and I strive to streamline my days so I can fit in training, work, and family time. Blending vegetables in a  green smoothie is a great way to save time and get in the nutrients that our bodies crave. Many different recipes call for precise measurements and a lot of specific ingredients I never seem to have at the same time.

 

How many times have you given up on a recipe because you lacked one or two ingredients?

I don’t know about you, but the answer for me is way too many times. Sometimes I take care to cook a recipe following the directions in order to produce a great meal. But on a regular basis I want to make things easy to do so the odds increase that I will actually do them. That’s why I make my smoothies based on whatever is in the fridge. I usually make my smoothies like this:

The Steps to make an Easy Green Smoothie

  1. Take a leafy green (kale, collard green, chard, spinach). Wash them and chop (or rip)  into small pieces and put it in the blender.Washing leafy greens and carrots for a green smoothie.
  2. Add ice, a little water, the juice of a lemon, and blend. Using a few squirts of lemon juice concentrate will do the job, but won’t taste as fresh.Blender with leafy greens and lemon juice for a green smoothie.
  3. Cut up the avocado, fruits & vegetables and dump them in. The avocado will emulsify the smoothie so it is thicker and stays together. It is also a great source of fat and will keep you full. Common fruits & vegetables I use are carrots, cucumbers, berries, apples, pears, and melon. Aim to use only one or two fruits to keep the sugar content low. Green smoothies are about packing in the vegetables without spiking your insulin.Sliced vegetables on a cutting board for a green smoothie
  4. Give your dog a carrot slice. He’s hoping you will-  look at  him.
  5. Add any roots, seeds, herbs, probiotics, adaptogens and spices. Some won’t work well together, but the avocado, lemon and berries go a long way to mask other flavors. I usually throw in ginger, turmeric, kefir, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and maca root. Occasionally I add some almond butter, but it’s easy to go overboard with nut butters. If you’re feeling masochistic daring, throw in a clove or two of garlic. Again, it will be masked by the other ingredients in your green smoothie.
  6. Blend together and taste. Too thick? Add some water. Not thick enough? Toss in another avocado. If you are new to blending vegetables or eat a lot of sweets, expect it to taste a little bland. Avoid the temptation to throw too much fruit in there, your taste buds will adapt eventually.Blended green smoothie in a glass.
  7. Store in the fridge for a week or so. I go through jars of peanut butter and almond butter on a regular basis. A few months ago I started washing them out to reuse them and found they are the perfect size to store enough green smoothie for a day’s worth.Blended green smoothie stored in used peanut butter jars.

 

Keep it simple

Like I mentioned earlier, the end result won’t always be amazing. Sometimes it will be a bust, but it won’t take long before you develop a knack for what works well together and in what proportions. I’ve tried a few different things at times that haven’t worked like pureed pumpkin, broccoli, and cauliflower. I’m sure you’ll also stumble across a few things that don’t work along the way.

 

The point is this: eating healthy does not need to be overly complicated. Small, simple, everyday things add up and are sustainable for the long term. Think of these as utility meals – nothing fancy, but serving a purpose. The blast of nutrients you are drinking is a quick and easy way to get your body what it needs.

 

Remember, every sip is a victory.

 

 

What do you put in your green smoothies that works?

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3 Good Fitness and Nutrition Blogs I Follow

Books on fitness and nutrition in my bookshelf

You might have noticed I have been posting a bit more recently, thanks to  blogging challenge from ProBlogger. Over the last week in this challenge I have discovered a few other fitness and nutrition blogs that struck a cord with me. I am constantly reading what other fitness enthusiasts are up to and most of the time there is one small thing that makes a big difference in my life. Recently I’ve gotten into making zucchini noodles for a filling lunch or dinner and thanks to one of the blogs below I’ve found some other filling recipes.

 

It’s exciting to see what other people are doing to stay active and how they love what they do.

 

Good Reading

  1. The Magic of Running: The author, Katherine, provides race reviews and discusses what inspires her to run. She’s included a lot of photos to make her posts more engaging and set the scene. If you’re a road or trail runner, this is a blog you will enjoy.Katherine from Magic of Running fitness nutrition blog posing at a race booth.
  2. Run Away from Zombies: Yeah, you read that correctly. Here you’ll find running tips from Rebekah, who stated her blogs aims to “help new runners transition from excited, curious, and a little scared to experienced, limit-pushing, and successful.” Check it out and get a free Ebook designed to turn you into a better runner.Rebekah from "Run Away from Zombies" running. This is a great fitness and nutrition blog I follow.
  3. A Living Laboratory: While this is not a fitness blog, Cheri writes about healthy lifestyle and how to include more healthy food in your everyday life, among other topics. Check out her post on how to eat more zucchini.A logo from Living Laboratory's fitness nutrition blog on eating more zucchini.

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Interview with Scotty Smiley

Many veterans describe the transition out of the military as a major change in life. That is compounded by a combat deployment where chaos and uncertainty can turn one’s worldview upside-down. But for some the switch is even more difficult. Some come back with PTSD, some with missing limbs, and some without the ability to see. Major Scotty Smiley is one of those individuals who lost his eyesight on the battlefield when a suicide bomber detonated himself near Scotty’s Stryker vehicle. Rather than let his disability define him, Scotty has made a career of redefining what is possible and defying the conventional wisdom regarding what blind people can and can’t do.

 

Scotty Smiley Mt. Rainier

Major Scotty Smiley summits Mt. Rainier.

 

I had the honor of talking with Major Smiley, or “Scotty,” as close friends and family call him. A few months back I came across his story on the Ironman website. A video showed a blind man talking about how he decided that he should run an Ironman triathlon as one of many arduous endeavors he has overtaken to share his story. I wound up ordering his book, Hope Unseenwhich chronicles his life story from childhood to combat and back home again.

 

Humble Beginnings

Scotty grew up in Pasco, Washington and enjoyed playing just about every sport available. He excelled in football and wrestling in high school and credits his training for instilling values in him like independence and dependence.

 

Scotty learned to be independent in wrestling, taking responsibility. “When it came down to it, I either beat the other guy or I didn’t and it was on me,” he noted. He knew that his coaches could get him so far with training and motivation, but it was up to him to deliver. Playing football taught him dependence on other teammates. In order to win, he remembers having to make sure everyone was operating on the same page and that the team was only as strong as its weakest link.

 

Besides  his involvement in sports, Scotty Smiley was raised a devout Christian. He recalled how his mother encouraged her children to read the Bible and practice the teaching of Jesus in their lives. Forgiveness would play a major role in how Scotty dealt with his homecoming and blindness.

 

Into the Army

After high school, Scotty was accepted to the Military Academy at West Point and began his training as an Army officer. He wrestled for a year, but decided to focus on his studies after his freshman year because of the rigorous academic load each cadet must shoulder to become a commissioned officer in the Army. Not too long after graduation he married his high school sweetheart, Tiffany. Scotty received further training in infantry tactics and completed Ranger School without having to be recycled or repeat any of the training in which many soldiers wash out.

 

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Kristy (Webb) Graham, Edward Graham, Scotty and Tiffany at Ranger School graduation, Ft. Benning, Georgia.

 

Iraq

In 2005, Scotty and his unit were deployed to Mosul where they patrolled the streets in Strykers. By this time in the war, suicide bombings had started to increase and were a common tactic against American forces. In his book, Hope Unseen, he recounts in detail the experience of leading soldiers in Iraq.

 

On April 6th, 2005, Scotty encountered the man who would detonate his own body and send Scotty into a world of darkness.

 

Waking Up

Major Smiley awoke in a bed in Walter Reed Medical Center, Tiffany and the rest of his family coming to visit him as soon as they could. Dazed and disoriented, Scotty had nightmares of being in Iraq and would yell out for his Oakley sunglasses. Painkillers and PTSD blurred the lines of dreams and reality as he endured surgeries  to remove shrapnel and unsuccessful attempts to repair his eyesight.

 

award

 

He didn’t believe in himself at this point and recalled feeling abandoned by God. Doubt, despair, confusion, and self-pity made his sightless world feel even darker. In addition to losing his eyesight, Scotty had to regain function in the right side of his body and deal with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by the explosion and shrapnel. In short, he was fortunate to have survived the blast at all.

 

“I felt guilty then and feel guilty now as I remember questioning God in such a way. It goes against everything I grew up believing. But what you believe can change when your world is blown apart. I couldn’t run from these feelings or thoughts.”           –Hope Unseen, pg. 103

 

First Steps

Despite this, friends and family were there to return the encouragement and strength that Scotty had shared with all of them before being wounded. He was visited by a young boy he had taught in Sunday School while at West Point. The visit was a pivotal moment in Scotty’s recovery. It helped him to realize how many people still looked up to and genuinely cared about him.  Soon after he decided that lack of sight would not stop him from getting out of bed and attempting to shower on his own.

 

Jeff Van Antwerp visits Scotty at Walter Reed.

Jeff Van Antwerp visits Scotty at Walter Reed.

 

After being transferred to the V.A. Hospital in Palo Alto, California. , the rehabilitation continued. Scotty began lifting weights again and learning to walk with a cane to guide him. He endured the humility of basic cognitive testing that included adding up change. His mind was filled with thoughts of how far he had fallen in less than a few months.

 

I’m Ranger and scuba qualified. I dodged flying bullets. I wanted to pick up the change and hurl it across the room.” –Hope Unseen pg. 144.

Anger towards the suicide bomber in Mosul still weighed on him. By blowing himself up, this man had taken not only Scotty’s eyesight, but his independence. Scotty remembered the teachings of Jesus and how forgiveness was a central theme. Holding onto anger and resentment was not going to help him move forward. By deciding to forgive this man and let go of the anger, Scotty recalls how much lighter he felt. He is convinced that this act of forgiveness was a crucial step in his recovery.

 

A Swell of Confidence

After returning to his duty station in Ft. Lewis, Scotty and Tiffany took a vacation to Hawaii to visit family friends and get away from the hospital life. It was there that he had an audacious thought. Scotty decided he was going to surf. His close friend and fellow Army officer, Jeff Van Antwerp, agreed to take him out and give it a go. Following Jeff’s voice and guidance, Scotty paddled out. After ignoring the doubts his mind sent him, urging him to quit, he felt the surge of the perfect wave and hoisted himself up on his board. He rode five waves that day and had an epiphany.

 

“…I was learning that if I believed in myself, asked God for help, and reached out to others, I could overcome my limitations. And I did it.” –Hope Unseen, pg. 158

Scotty Smiley surfing

 

Hitting his Stride

His journey did not stop with surfing. Scotty went on to summit Mt. Rainier, wakeboard, earn an MBA at Duke University and taught at West Point. He was the first blind active-duty soldier in the history of the Army. In his book, Hope Unseen, he recalls encountering many obstacles and doubt along the way, but each time he forged ahead and blazed his own trail. Scotty retired from the Army in 2015 after earning the rank of major.

 

Ironman

Many people would be tempted to pat themselves on the back after such an impressive list of accomplishments, but the phrase “slow down” does not appear in Major Smiley’s vocabulary. He decided to run an Ironman triathlon after being convinced by his brother-in-law, Andy Cooper. For those unfamiliar, and Ironman involves a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 (marathon) run. “I thought he was insane at first,” recalled Scotty.

 

Scotty Smiley Ironman 2

 

Scotty and Andy trained together until the time came for the Coeur D’alene Ironman. Just in case the course length was not difficult enough, the event saw a record high temperature of 105º that day. Despite wanting to quit multiple times, he found the strength to continue because the race wasn’t just about him. During the first half of the run, Scotty began to slow down and wanted to quit. It was then that his wife, Tiffany, reminded him of the motivation for going on:

 

“You’re not doing this for yourself! You’re doing it for those who didn’t make it back.”

 

Scotty Smiley Ironman 3

Scotty ran the second half of his marathon even faster because he found renewed purpose and thought of an Army value he had embodied his whole career as a soldier: selfless service. Scotty made a decision to continue despite the doubts or discomfort. Just like years ago in his bed in Walter Reed, a choice was before him. He could choose to sit in his PTSD and depression and let it control his life, but the world was not going to stop. He had to make a decision to move forward, no matter how small the steps were at first.

 

Scotty Smiley Ironman 4

Celebrating at the finish line with his wife, Tiffany.

 

In talking with Scotty Smiley it became very apparent that self-pity was not part of his identity. He focuses on the now and what is to come instead of dwelling in the past. Like many veterans, he doesn’t want or need pity. When encountering an obstacle he pauses only long enough to figure out how to climb over. Today he can be found taking care of his three boys, working as an investment banker, giving motivation talks, and training for his next endurance event. I hope to race with him one of these days, but either way his story has inspired me to continue pushing the limits of what I think is possible.

 

To read the full story, order Scotty’s book Hope Unseen.

 

Scotty Smiley family

 

 

Mike can be reached at mike@transitionsfromwar.com

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