RED Hearts: Smoothie in a Bowl

IMG_6851RED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today.

This is the third in a RED Hearts series of spring-into-summer recipes -- things you can cook or bake, usually healthy things, always easy things -- for the people you heart. Served up by Erika Kwee, 23, “the baker, photographer and typo-maker” behind vegetarian food blog The Pancake Princess.

In the summer, my stash of frozen banana chunks safely nestled in the freezer becomes more precious than gold. The reason for this -- and the constant march of ripening bananas across my countertop -- is that in the heat of these months, smoothies save my life. I live in Houston where, between June and September, temperatures creep up into the sweaty-is-a-natural-state-of-being range. Turning on the oven requires herculean effort. All I want to do is lie around and eat popsicles.

Still, staying fueled with healthy foods is always a top priority for me, and smoothies are so cooling, delicious and convenient -- often my nutrient vehicle of choice.

When I first started making smoothies, no one told me how much fun they are to eat from a bowl. There’s so much more texture potential thanks to a variety of toppings: crunchiness from a handful of nuts or granola, creaminess from a dollop of yogurt, juiciness from fresh fruit or a luxurious stickiness from a smear of nut butter. It’s kind of like cereal that you can dream into far greater, healthier heights.

Below you can find a recipe for my go-to green smoothie, but feel free to use any base you prefer. Change it up by swapping protein powder for a spoonful of almond butter, frozen berries instead of mango, or coconut water instead of almond milk. Try adding some avocado, cacao powder and peanut butter to a base of frozen banana, spinach and almond milk for a truly rich treat.

Just make sure to add plenty of toppings -- and to always have some ripe bananas stockpiled in the freezer!

The Big Green Smoothie Bowl 2 big handfuls spinach, kale or other greens ½ large frozen banana, sliced ½ cup frozen mango chunks 1 cup almond milk 1 tablespoon chia seeds 1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Put all ingredients into a blender, layering any greens on the bottom and frozen fruit on top (this helps press the loose greens down toward the blending action). Blend and pour into a bowl. Add toppings and eat with a spoon!

RED Hearts guest poster Erika Kwee is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.