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Tropical Chia Green Smoothies

It’s been pointed out to me, that my own enthusiasm for holiday celebrations, may explain the intense energy my 5-year-old, Liam, puts into planning how we’ll honor each special day. We are two peas in a pod when it comes to festive occasions. Heck, we’re already co-planning the Temple Run themed birthday party we’ll throw in May, complete with a costumed gorilla to chase the party guests through the obstacle course we will assemble in the backyard. My husband is skeptical about the logistics involved in carrying out this event, but Liam and I have got it covered.

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As Valentine’s Day approached, Liam easily slipped into holiday planning mode. For weeks, I heard about the special Valentine’s Day he was planning for me. It was to be a spa day, as imagined by a 5-year-old, pieced together with ideas he’d gleaned from watching episodes of Phineas and Ferb or Spongebob. I was given a list of the supplies to acquire for this special day: bubblegum scented bubble bath, ‘some kind of soap’ for my face (a face mask), cucumber slices, candy, and bubbly water. Then I eagerly waited for Valentine’s Day and the one hundred arm massages I’d been promised as part of this luxurious spa package.

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But then I received the phone call from the school nurse. My sweet, little valentine was running a fever and needed to be picked up from school. After a bit of rest at home, I decided to turn his little spa idea around on him. It just seemed like he needed the extra attention more than I did. The boys enjoyed the funny face masks and cool cucumber eyes and they laughed their bubble-bearded faces to near tears in the over-filled bathtub. I poured cool glasses of cucumber water for the boys to sip while they enjoyed the soothing effects of the face masks, but none of the boys would drink what they perceived to be ‘pickle water’.

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After soothing face masks, ‘pickle water’, and bubble baths, we enjoyed some delicious tropical green smoothies. Inspiration for these smoothies came to me while watching a food documentary I ran across on Netflix, Hungry for Change. For the most part, the film spoke to what most of us already know; whole foods are good for you, processed foods are not. Eat lots of fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables and you’ll feel better, look younger, and have glowing skin. (They talked a lot about skin.) At one point, the filmed focused so heavily on juicing that I started to suspect I’d been tricked into watching an 89-minute long informercial for a juicing machine. But all-in-all, it was a decent film which drove home some important points about healthy eating.

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Above all, to me, the most interesting segment had to do with foods that have the ability to reset and detoxify our bodies, so that they function more efficiently and effectively. Leafy green vegetables and gelatinous plant foods, such as chia seeds, were given the biggest focus. After doing a bit of research into chia seeds and discovering their many potential health benefits, I made the decision to incorporate them into my diet, starting with these delicious and nutrient dense smoothies. These vibrant smoothies start with fresh tropical fruit and a big handful of baby spinach. Protein-rich greek yogurt, omega-3 and fiber-rich chia seeds, and natural, sweet honey complete the mix to form a nutritional powerhouse smoothie you can feel great about enjoying.

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Today’s Focus on Technique – Making Smoothies with Frozen Fruit

Keeping a stash of fresh fruit pieces in your freezer makes smoothie-making a breeze. Most fruit contains enough water content to give your smoothies that icy texture, without actually adding any ice. (Banana smoothies usually require some ice.) Clean, peel, and chop your favorite fruits, then freeze them in large ziploc bags or airtight containers. For extra convenience, consider buying the bags of pre-cut, no-sugar-added frozen fruit, which can be found in the freezer section of your grocery store.

Tropical Chia Green Smoothie

Ingredients*

  • 1 6-ounce container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pineapple, cut into cubes and frozen
  • 1 cup mango, cut into cubes and frozen
  • 1 cup kiwi, cut and frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (or milk)
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey

*All ingredient measurements are approximate.

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until well combined. Taste and adjust sweetness with additional honey, if desired.

Makes 2 generous smoothies

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Tropical Smoothies

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Apparently, when your child turns four, their inner menace is instantly activated. With this activation comes such inexplicable behaviors as hurling oneself at a moving swing, superman-style, with such force that said four-year-old flies directly over the swing, head first into the gravel. Ouch!

Pulling down one’s pants and walking around the produce section of the grocery store, butt cheeks fully exposed, is apparently another new behavior triggered at age four. True story.

Oh, the list of things I never imagined myself saying goes on and on…

Pull up your pants! You’re in the middle of a grocery store!

Stop licking your brother’s feet. 

The baby doesn’t want your underwear on his head.

You shouldn’t be eating any type of boogers! I don’t care which ones taste better.

Sometimes, the only response I can muster is Why?? Why would you do that??

But with this new mischief also comes a deeper passion for favorite things. And my four year old has a deep passion for smoothies. Lucky for him, I happen to love them too, so I’m more than happy to fire up the blender for a daily smoothie. We’ve enjoyed all sorts of smoothies this summer, but these are the smoothies which brought my son to tears. Literally, to tears. They’re really that good!

Tropical Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas, chopped and frozen
  • 1 mango, chopped and frozen*
  • 3/4 cup pineapple yogurt
  • 3/4 cup mango yogurt
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
(Click here to see my photo guide for how to dice a mango.)

Directions

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

The coupon for FREE Dannon Activia Selects yogurt is still available for a few more days. Get it while you can! Their new French-style yogurt comes in both the mango and pineapple flavors needed for this recipe! (Check your grocery stores’s coupon policy before redeeming, as some stores will not accept printable coupons for free products.)

Visit the Activia Selects Facebook page to get your FREE coupon now!

This sponsorship is brought to you by Activia Selects who we have partnered with for this promotion.

FREE coupon offer good 8/3 /11 – 8/15/11, up to 1 million coupons, on any Activia Selects Single Serve, up to $3.00. One coupon per household. Offer valid in the U.S only. VOID IN LA, NJ, CA. Coupon valid until 8/15/11.

Residents of LA, NJ, CA will be given a ‘$1 off 3 Activia Selects’ coupon.

Apple Pie A La Mode Smoothie and a FREE coupon!

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As you know, I love food. Food is so much more to me than just sustenance and nutrition. It’s more than just putting a meal on the table and feeding my family. It’s an experience. It’s a pleasure-inducing event. It satisfies me in a manner much deeper than just quenching my hunger. But this love of food comes at a great cost, not only to our waistlines, but also to our piggybanks.

I admit that, in the past, I have never been very conscious of shopping grocery sales or monitoring the prices of individual ingredients. I typically plan our grocery trips based on what we feel like eating or what looks fresh and delicious in the store, rather than basing our meals on sales or what we have in the pantry. This approach is deliciously satisfying, but puts our normal grocery spending off the charts. Lately though, I’ve been trying to become more conscious about our grocery spending; buying meats in bulk, planning a few less expensive meals each week, and even using coupons!

Now, couponing is something I’ve attempted in the past and never had much success with. I’d diligently clip my coupons, only to arrive at the store with a stack of savings on things I wouldn’t normally purchase anyway or things which would end up costing me more than other similar items, even after the coupon was applied. But, this time has been different. This time, I’ve started following a few couponing blogs, which have made things so much clearer. I get it now. Not sure why I didn’t get it before, but I get it now!

My Coupon Binder

I’ve learned about sale cycles, stocking up on items at their lowest prices, and matching up manufacturer coupons with store coupons and sales to get things for mere pennies or even for free. Yes, free! Why in the world have I been paying full price for toothpaste and toothbrushes when stores are giving away my preferred brands for free almost every week???  Silly, silly me!

I’ve become a little obsessed. I’ve even set up a binder to neatly organize my coupon collection. I refuse to sacrifice the quality of the foods we eat for savings, but why wouldn’t I try to save money on the things I’d normally buy anyway…money which I can put in my vacation fund for some grand, luxurious trip to a tropical locale, where I’ll overindulge in food, drink, and naps. I’ve already picked the place.

So, when I was contacted recently, by Foodie Blogroll (in partnership with Halogen Network), inviting me to help promote some new products from Dannon Activia Selects, with the opportunity to invite my readers to receive a coupon for free yogurt, I was immediately intrigued. When it comes to coupons, it doesn’t get much better than FREE!

My family goes through yogurt like it’s nobody’s business and Dannon is a brand I’ve loved since childhood. I was initially a bit hesitant about using this site to promote new products, but Dannon is a brand I can stand behind and this particular promotion gives me the opportunity to share my love for yogurt, coupons, and delicious smoothie recipes, so I agreed.

Dannon Activia, a yogurt with the added benefit of helping to regulate your digestive system, has recently introduced two new lines of yogurt. The first is a collection of smooth and silky French-style yogurts, which come in cherry, mango, blackberry, and cherry flavors. They’re also offering the French-style yogurt with fruit on the bottom in strawberry and mixed berry flavors. I’ve got to say, I’ve always been a big fan of Dannon’s Fruit on the Bottom yogurts, so I’m really excited to try these products.

The second is a line of thick and creamy Greek-style yogurts, which come in vanilla, blueberry, strawberry, and pomegranate berry. Greek yogurts are all the rage these days, and for good reason! They’re thick, smooth, and packed with protein. I haven’t had the opportunity to sample these yogurts yet, but the new Greek-style yogurts are top on my list to try!

You can try these new yogurts too! Simply enter a few pieces of information on the Dannon Activia website or Visit the Activia Selects Facebook page to get your FREE coupon now!

Now…you know I couldn’t let this post go without a recipe! One of my family’s favorite ways to enjoy yogurt, aside from straight out of the container, is mixed into smoothies. And this smoothie is a good one! So, use your free coupon to pick up some of this new yogurt and then give it a try in this fantastic smoothie which has the taste of a delicious slice of apple pie a la mode! (Dannon Activia’s Greek-style vanilla yogurt would work perfectly in this recipe!)

Apple Pie A La Mode Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 4 granny smith apples
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger

Directions

Peel and core the apples. Cut the apples into small pieces, then toss in the lemon juice. Freeze for a few hours in a covered container. To prepare the smoothie, blend the frozen apple pieces with all other ingredients until smooth. Garnish with a fresh slice of apple and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

This sponsorship is brought to you by Activia Selects who we have partnered with for this promotion.

FREE coupon offer good 8/3 /11 – 8/15/11, up to 1 million coupons, on any Activia Selects Single Serve, up to $3.00. One coupon per household. Offer valid in the U.S only. VOID IN LA, NJ, CA. Coupon valid until 8/15/11.

Residents of LA, NJ, CA will be given a ‘$1 off 3 Activia Selects’ coupon.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this post! Would you enjoy future opportunities to hear about new products and potentially receive free coupons or samples? Or should I just stick to the recipes and leave the advertising elsewhere?

Strawberry Spinach Smoothies

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Obsession, thy name is Strawberry Spinach Smoothies.

I honestly can’t quantify the amount of fresh baby spinach my family has consumed over the past two weeks. We are a family obsessed. It would probably behoove Popeye to snatch up whatever remaining spinach he can get his hands on, before my family calls dibs on every last green leaf. I suppose there are worse things to be obsessed with.

It all started with the Strawberry Basil Smoothie recipe I recently shared. While adding the bright green basil, it occurred to me that a bit of spinach might be a nice match to the ripe summer strawberries.

So, as soon as I was able to get my hands on some spinach, I set about making my first ever strawberry spinach smoothie. I started with just a small handful of spinach. A quick taste led to another handful. Another taste, another handful. Turns out that these smoothies can easily handle a full bag of fresh baby spinach without sacrificing any of the sweet strawberry flavor.

Now, admittedly, adding vegetables to a smoothie is not an insanely novel idea, but it’s one I hadn’t tried before and I just had to share the recipe with you! These smoothies are so insanely nutritious and delicious, you won’t be able to stop smiling. You’ll smile even wider while watching your young picky eaters happily gulp down massive quantities of fresh, spinachy goodness.

Strawberry Spinach Smoothies

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups frozen strawberries
  • 6-8 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup apple juice, milk or water

Directions

Blend all ingredients until smooth and frosty. Enjoy!

**Tips**

Buy and freeze plenty of strawberries now, while they’re in season and priced low.

Freeze your strawberries on a baking sheet before placing in a container to help prevent them from sticking together.

Chop large strawberries before freezing to make things easier on your blender.

Freeze leftover smoothie mixture in ice cube trays. Blend your frozen smoothie cubes with a splash of juice when you’re ready to enjoy!

This recipe is fully customizable. Have fun playing around with different combinations of fruits and vegetables!

Strawberry Basil Smoothie

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It takes a while for strawberry season to peak this far north. When it does, we like to take the little men out to the fields for some berry-picking family fun. Ideally, we would put all of their little hands to work at picking a bulk quantity of sweet, ripe berries. The reality was that my husband ended up picking 10 pounds of strawberries while the boys wandered the fields dining on an all-you-can-eat buffet of fresh-picked berries. It’s a good thing my husband enjoys picking berries!

I promptly washed and froze half of our berry loot for one of my sons’ favorite treats in whole world…smoothies! They go absolutely bonkers over smoothies. I’m thinking about sneaking some veggies in the next time; perhaps making a strawberry spinach smoothie. But, for today, we’re just going to accent our sweet berries with a touch of fresh, summery basil!

When it comes to making smoothies, I prefer to skip the ice. I don’t care for the texture or the watered-down taste. To achieve an equally thick, frosty smoothie without the ice, simply freeze your fruit. Combine your frozen fruit with a bit of creamy Greek yogurt, a touch of honey, and a few leaves of fresh basil for a delicious and nutritious treat!

Strawberry Basil Smoothies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, frozen
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 5-6 large basil leaves
Directions
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Easy as that.
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