Taking the full measure of life

Healthy Meals for One or Two: Kickin’ It Off With Smoothies

January 8th, 2009 · 17 Comments

If you're new here and want to understand the title and purpose of my blog, you can read my first post by clicking here. You may also want to subscribe to my RSS feed so that you don't miss further posts of interest to you. Thanks for visiting, and I hope you'll stop by often!

My friend Chris (whom you can find writing these two blogs) has struggled with eating at home for the two years I’ve known him.  Chris is a successful, intelligent person who is good about determining what he wants and going for it, and one thing he wants to do is cook and eat at home . . . but it’s been difficult for him because Chris is single and lives alone.  Cooking for one can be hard because of the start-up costs (spices, appliances, leftover storage), the learning curve (cooking is often intimidating to those who are new at it), the recipes (which are usually written for 6 or more people), and the desire for social contact when eating.

Nonetheless, learning to cook and eat at home, alone, is an ability that serves us all well.  In the long run, even with the start-up costs and learning curve, eating at home tends to be cheaper, and is definitely healthier, than eating in restaurants. We can view learning to eat at home as making an investment in ourselves.

The loneliness factor, I cannot fix, but I can make three suggestions: if you invite a friend over for a meal, I’ve discovered he or she will rarely say no—in which case, you’ve got a meal for two to plan.  Barring that option, I find I’m less lonely about eating alone if I’m satisfied with having social contact before or after the meal—so joining a low-key sports team with evening practices, going to a 7 p.m. movie after dinner, or calling a friend around the mealtime may help.  And in general, getting comfortable with eating alone is a step towards getting comfortable in our own skin, with our own pleasures and passions to enjoy solely.  And again, even if eating alone isn’t always easy (it wasn’t for me, though I enjoy it on many of the occasions it happens now), it’s worthwhile.

In honor of Chris and others who are working on doing a better job of eating healthy meals at home in 2009, I’m kicking off a new series of posts that are about learning to cook and eat meals for one or two—meals that are generally healthy and include treats now and then.  If you’re cooking for just yourself, yourself and a child, or yourself and a significant other or friend, I hope these recipes—and links to recipes and suggestions at other sites—will help you grow in your confidence and ability to eat at home successfully.

Now on to the first meal: smoothies.

I drank smoothies occasionally as a young adult, but then quit drinking them.  My problem with smoothies has always been that they fill me up well when I drink them, and then I’m hungry about an hour later and ravenous two hours later.  They are generally too high in calories for a snack but too low in longevity for a meal. But smoothies can be a great way to get in servings of fruits or vegetables, and they’re tasty.  When I recently saw some Nutiva organic, fair-trade chocolate hemp powder at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market, even though it wasn’t in my usual vein of purchases because it’s not exactly a whole food, I thought, “Hmmm.  No weird or chemical ingredients.  Protein in a vegetarian form that I’m not allergic to. Fair-trade and organic. I’ll try it!”  I’m glad I did.  With 60 calories, nine grams of fiber, and five grams of protein in a three-tablespoon serving, the hemp powder gives my smoothie the staying power to keep me satisfied till lunchtime. (It does have a bit of sugar in it, but the pure protein powder version doesn’t, if you avoid all sugar.)  My husband and best friend have both tried them for breakfast now, as well, with the same results.  We’re all hemp powder smoothie fans now.

Of course, you want to avoid making breakfast smoothies that are high in sugar and low in nutrients.  Smoothies that primarily consist of, say, frozen sweetened yogurt are a treat, a dessert—not a meal.  Here are a few smoothie recipe suggestions with the hemp protein powder:

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie w/ Banana

1 cup milk or milk alternative (I used hemp milk)
1 banana (chopped up and frozen the previous evening)
3 or 4 ice cubes
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons chocolate hemp powder

Choco-Berry Smoothie

1 c. hemp milk
2/3 c. frozen berries (I used raspberries and blackberries)
3 T chocolate hemp powder
1 T chocolate chips (will blend into tiny chunks, so use chocolate syrup instead, or skip it, if you want a smooth texture)

Banana Split Smoothie

1 cup milk or milk alternative (I used hemp)
1 banana (sliced and frozen the night before)
1/3 cup pitted cherries (fresh, frozen, or home-canned)
3 T chocolate hemp protein powder
3-4 ice cubes

Tropical Smoothie

1/2 cup milk or milk alternative
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 banana (sliced and frozen the night before)
3 tablespoons chocolate hemp powder
3-4 ice cubes
1 tablespoon coconut

Combine all ingredients in the blender, and blend well.  Add more ice for a thicker smoothie.

Of course, you can avoid the hemp powder and try adding other protein sources to give your smoothie staying power, as well.  The peanut butter in one of the recipes is an example; other nut butters would work, and if you have a great blender, you could just try whole or chopped nuts.  Several people have told me they swear by rice protein powder, and many healthy folks I know make smoothies with greens like kale and spinach for fiber and protein.


Ode to Green Smoothie
Green Smoothie Recipes in 140 Characters
Smoothie Nosh
How to Make a Hemp Protein Smoothie

Tags: quick meals

17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jennifer // Jan 8, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Wow, that’s pricey, but those smoothies sure do sound good!

  • 2 sally // Jan 8, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Jennifer—If you use 3 T a serving, there are 20 servings in a cannister, so at $28 for 32 oz., it breaks down to 70 cents a serving for the protein. Not cheap, but not too bad when you compare it to a $3 fast food breakfast that gets you nowhere nutritionally. 🙂

  • 3 margaret // Jan 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    i loved my smoothie yesterday morning. because i leave the house so early (6:30, ick), i put everything together the night before — the dry ingredients in the blender, the milk in the frig in the cup i’m going to use, and the frozen in a plastic bag in the freezer. definitely had more staying more than my usual muffin breakfast. thanks for the smart idea sal.

  • 4 bethh // Jan 8, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I have a partial solution for the loneliness/cooking issue: I’m part of a four-person lunch group at work. We’re each responsible for bringing in a vegetarian lunch for each other one day per week. I’m inspired to try new recipes, I have a healthy home-made meal provided for me three other days of the week, and I get to talk about cooking with friends! it’s the best.thing.ever! we’ve been going strong for almost two years now.

  • 5 Vittoria // Jan 9, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I still haven’t really learned to cook for one, but I can do it in a pinch. I prefer to cook a full recipe and then portion out the leftovers for later lunches and meals. I rarely eat at home, but often eat alone. One solution if found is that a friend of mine, who lives in another state, has his lunch at the same time I do and we google chat while we eat. It sure beats eating lunch with the folks in my office! A series of cooking for 1 posts is great! I can’t wait to see more.

  • 6 Lori E. // Jan 9, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I’ve been looking for a new breakfast idea, and that Choco-Berry smoothie looks delicious. Do you think it would be good with blueberries?

  • 7 Kara // Jan 10, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I’ve always felt that way about smoothies, too–yummy but not stick-to-your-ribs. But last weekend we were driving back to VT from VA. I wasn’t feeling well so when we stopped for lunch I bought an Odwalla chocolate-banana protein smoothie. It actually filled me up until afternoon snack time though the protein powder taste takes some getting used to.

    My favorite simple, one-person meal is an asian noodle or rice bowl topped with veggies braised in rice vinegar and soy sauce, a one-egg Japanese omelet, and pickled daikon.

  • 8 Chris // Jan 10, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for the tips, Sally. I am going to give these smoothies a try. In response to what Vittoria said about cooking a large amount and dividing up portions for later, another obstacle I have is that I despise leftovers. I know it’s something I will probably need to get over. Nothing tastes as good as it did when it was fresh — in fact, it often just tastes nasty — so cooking one serving is a good way to ensure freshness at every meal.

  • 9 Alisa // Jan 10, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    What a great post! I would love to feature you review of the protein powder and recipes to use it on http://www.godairyfree.org. Let me know if that would be cool!

  • 10 glutenfreeforgood // Jan 11, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Great post, Sally! I add some cinnamon and other sweet spices to almost everything I blend. I’ve also added Chia seeds to my smoothie arsenal.


  • 11 Robin // Jan 11, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Great idea! I made one this morning and it was wonderful. I bought Manitoba Harvest Dark Chocolate Hemp Powder and it was good, for those that can’t find the Nutiva locally. I have been struggling with finding a variety of tasty breakfast foods since I cut out gluten and dairy. Thank you for posting such delicious recipes and giving your readers such beautifully written glimpses of your life.

  • 12 Nancy // Jan 15, 2009 at 10:39 am

    As much as I love cooking, preparing 3 meals a day at home can be challenging. So, I often freeze leftovers in single portions for a quick, tasty meal. Today in the Northeast the temps are in the teens. So, I’m eating chicken soup with veggies and white beans for lunch today. So good! Tomorrow, who knows, it might be a chili day. (No pun intended.)

  • 13 Melanie // Jan 16, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Wow, Sally, these look really great. Thanks for posting them. I really hate the term “smoothie”. For some reason that word just strikes me as something that is too healthy to actually taste good!

  • 14 Yvonne // Jan 20, 2009 at 12:09 am

    I ordered some of the chocolate hemp powder. I have an Amazon Prime membership, plus if you sign up for subscribe and save, it’s not a bad price at all, no shipping and a discount. I can’t wait to try it, I love smoothies, but have always felt like you, too many calories for snack/not long lasting enough for a meal. Thank you! My son and daughter will love it too.

  • 15 Jenn // Jan 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I’ve been doing a lot more weight-training in the last year or so and am always looking for new vegetarian protein sources. I’ve shied away from protein powders because I assumed they were heavily processed, but I’m glad you did this post because now I will definitely give them another look!

  • 16 Sarah // Jan 20, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I’m glad you like these smoothies… I just bought a jar and am hoping for the best!

  • 17 Step Three in the Year of Self-Care: Eat Breakfast Every Morning // Jan 29, 2009 at 11:39 am

    […] Fruit smoothie that includes greens, nut butter, hemp or rice protein powder, or some other type of protein (I wrote a post recently about my new love affair with smoothies.) […]

Leave a Comment

Powered by WP Hashcash