This particular smoothie, the one I drink every.damn.day, came about because I am a very frugal person. Before I had a desk job I used to workout almost every morning and my favorite class was/is Strength60 at my local Jazzercise studio. This class was not cardio based, so for an hour we used dumbbells, resistance bands, and our own body weight to become stronger and more muscle-y. After this class I would have a smoothie. I got it into my mind that I needed to add more protein to this thing, especially on days when I was was doing these strength workouts. So, I started looking around, I tried many a sample from our local hippie store, I poured over reviews, I googled and I found a powder I liked.
The problem is protein powders are expensive. If you’re using them everyday they become REALLY expensive. I estimated that even adding just a half serving of this particular powder (10 grams of protein) five days a week to my smoothie would cost at least $22.00 a month or $264.00 a year.
At the same time I was revisiting the work of one of my favorite plant based people, Dr. Michael Greger of “How Not to Die” fame. I had downloaded his app, which has a variety of foods for you to check off everyday. After a few weeks I noticed I was never ever getting the daily recommended serving of beans. Beans have so many health benefits that it’s madness to leave them out of your diet, they are:
- Filled with fiber, folate, and potassium
- Cancer preventing
- Associated with slimmer waists and lowered blood pressure
And, they are super cheap! Do you see where this is going?
What better (and cheaper) way to add protein to my smoothie than with beans?!
But, a very important question popped up. Will adding beans make my smoothie taste like garbage? I decided to try it out and see.
The next morning, I pulled a can of black beans out of the cupboard, rinsed them well, and measured out a serving size. I dumped them into my Blendtec along with all the usual things: bananas, frozen fruit, and spinach, pressed the power button, and hoped for the best.
I took a (very) hesitant first sip and was happily surprised because I COULDN’T TASTE THEM AT ALL. This $1.00 can of black beans had added 14.2 grams of protein to my smoothie and 18 grams of fiber! I was a believer.
Over the next few weeks I stocked up on cans of beans and dutifully added a cup to my morning smoothie. Black beans, navy beans, chickpeas, I tried them all and they all worked. The only issue was that opening a can and rinsing beans ever day or so was kind of annoying and it felt a little wasteful, even though I was recycling the empty cans.
Reaching Next Level Frugality
Because I love to find the most efficient way to do things I decided to bust out my Instantpot, cook a ton of beans at once, and freeze them in individual serving sizes so I could quickly add them to my smoothie, avoid the can issue, and save even more money (dried beans are super cheap).
This method 100% worked and I’ve been drinking this smoothie five days a week for the past six months with no plans to stop. I’ve found that two pounds of black beans cost a little under five dollars at our local health food store, and this is enough for fifteen servings. So, for a month of additional protein, fiber, and who knows how many other nutritional pluses, I’m spending just over six bucks. My little frugal heart loves that.
Below is a “recipe”. I just want to point out that I typically don’t measure anything except for my prepackaged beans, frozen spinach, and flax and chia seeds when I’m making this, but I thought it would be helpful to include measurements so you have an idea of what goes into this smoothie. I also use a scale to measure things whenever I can. I find it’s easier and more accurate when making recipes, so the ingredients are listed in grams. If you don’t have a scale I highly recommend getting one-here’s the one I use.
- 2 pounds dried black beans
- 1 banana (125 grams)
- Frozen pineapple (40 grams)
- Frozen mango (90 grams)
- Frozen strawberries (75 grams)
- Frozen raspberries (55 grams)
- Spinach (28 grams)
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 1 tablespoon chia seed
- 2 medjool dates
- Black beans (125 grams)
- Water to blend
- Cover beans in water and soak overnight
- Once beans have soaked, drain out water and rinse. Pick out any beans that look weird.
- Place in Instant Pot and cover with at least an inch of water
- Lock the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the vent to “seal”. Press the pressure cook button and set the timer for 20 minutes on high pressure.
- When the time’s up let the Instant Pot do a natural release- this is especially important if your Instant Pot is pretty full, if you do a manual release there’s a high chance bean liquid will come spurting out the top (speaking from experience here)
- After about 30 minutes or so, turn valve to “Vent” to release any last bits of pressure before carefully removing the lid. Let beans cool.
- Portion beans into approximately 125 gram servings. I use the scale I mentioned above and these ziploc containers (although I would probably splurge on glass containers these days).
- Place in freezer.
- The night before you plan to have your smoothie, take one container of beans out of the freezer and allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Place all ingredients in blender and blend.
- Two pounds of cooked beans yields close to 15 portions of beans
- I usually place the two dates in some hot water while I’m getting the smoothie ready and add them last. It makes them easier to blend if you keep them in the fridge like I do
According to cronometer.com, this smoothie has 30 grams of fiber and 19 grams of protein! Not to mention all of the recommended daily intake of vitamins A,C, and K. I love that this smoothie is simple to make with a little prep and that the protein, vitamins, and minerals all come from whole plant foods. I hope you’ll try this and that you enjoy it as much as I do.