Winter smoothie prep packs

It’s winter in Minnesota and the fresh local fruit options are sparse. It’s also hockey and swim season, meaning time is precious and calories in high demand.

What can I make ahead that’s fast and healthy? I pulled some miscellaneous greens and celery from the fridge, canned and frozen fruit. garbanzos, and various nutritional adds like oatmeal, desiccated coconut, flax and chia seeds, fresh mint, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric.

Then I threw some combinations together into sandwich bags and tossed into the freezer so the boys could grab as needed, add liquid and a banana. Ironically we had all of the weird stuff but no bananas? Boys.

If you run into the same issue with an ingredient just know that everything except liquid freezes well and gives it a nice chill, but if you don’t happen to have celery you can always add it when you blend.

Smoothie recipes are loose and easy to experiment to find what you like. This is definitely more art than science in my book, meaning the amounts and exact fruit are really up to you. Here are some of the combos we like:

Tropical: mandarin oranges, pineapple, peaches, pears, 1/2 banana, desiccated coconut. Use whatever combo of fruit you like about 1 cup total plus 3 tbsp of the coconut (usually found in the bulk section, and you don’t generally want to use the sweetened stuff). Add 1 cup+ of almond, coconut milk or whatever milk you drink until you reach your preferred consistency.

Berry blast (fiber): 1 cup spinach, 1/2 total of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and 2 tbsp or so dried oatmeal, 1 tsp dried cinnamon, 1/2 banana. Add 1c+ milk. The oatmeal makes this very filling.

Toxin Cleanse: 1 cup chopped kale, 1/2c pineapple, 1 stalk chopped celery, 1 tsp ginger (I use the fresh ginger in the tube found near the fresh herbs). Add 1c+ water or coconut water if you’ve got it, which has awesome electrolytes. This smoothie is a great way to flush toxins, if you have overindulged or have an upset tummy.

Balance: 1c spinach, 1/4c garbanzo beans, 3 large strawberries, 1 tbsp fresh mint, 1 tbsp flax seeds, dash of cinnamon, 1/2 banana. Add 1c+ milk of choice. The boys don’t like this one, but it’s one of my favorites when I’m feeling run down as it brings me back into balance with all of the great protein and iron in it. Flax seeds add fiber and help absorb the other nutrients too.

A note about blending: Depending on how compact the bags are, you’ll have something close to a solid chunk. You’ll want to break it up a bit (smash it a couple times on the counter) before blending or your blender may make an angry noise 😉

We found that filling a standard size sandwich bag about half full was a good size.

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“Instant” Italian soup


I saw this idea for “instant” on-the-go soups in both Martha Stewart and Cooking Light and admit I was skeptical. Would it have decent flavor? Would vegetables get “cooked” enough?

I have played around with ingredients and can say, yes! It’s not as good as long-simmered soups, but a healthier, fresher option than canned soup. Hub loves it as a work lunch–just add hot water (like found from the coffee maker in an office).

A variety of ingredients work and it sits well too so you can make several days’ worth at a time. Enjoy!

Instant Italian Soup (2 servings)

  • 1 box Parmesan couscous (uncooked)
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2c navy beans
  • 1/3c spinach or kale, chopped 
  • 1 chicken sundried tomato mozzarella sausage, sliced
  • 1/4c matchstick carrots
  • Handful small tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • Salt & pepper

Layer ingredients in 2 wide-mouth jars. Sprinkle the couscous with the parmesan seasoning packet. Top the vegs with the pesto and salt and pepper. When ready to eat, fill jar with hot water, cover and let steep for 3-5 min.