Six Million Dollar Smoothies: The Strawberry Banana Debacle

September is here! Why is this exciting? Because I’ve made the not-super-original claim that I—a grad student who makes well under living wage—am saving tons of money by using smoothies as meal substitutes. This month, I’m actually going to keep track of exactly how much money I spend on food. I think this might be a personal finance game-changer for me, so I’m excited to see what happens when, to quote the classic Nickelodeon show “Guts,” I “take it to the leaderboard, Mo!”

In the meantime, though, here’s another recipe!

A quick refresher for anybody who isn’t a regular reader: I AM in the midst of a diet, but you don’t need to be to use these recipes. I’ve become a smoothie evangelist because—if you’re smart about how you make them—they can be (1) healthy, (2) dirt cheap, and (3) excellent meal replacements.  If you want a low calorie smoothie, you can tweak the recipe below, and easily half the calorie content.


A more appetizing look at the Strawberry Banana Debacle. I LOVE the taste of spinach, so my smoothie looks really green, If you're not a big spinach fan, yours, my friend, will be an unsightly brown.

The Strawberry Banana Debacle: it looks like I forgot the strawberries, but trust me, they’re in there! I LOVE the taste of spinach, so my smoothie looks really green, If you’re not a big spinach fan, yours, my friend, will be an unsightly brown… hence the name. The good news: nobody’ll bogart your smoothie!

The Strawberry Banana Debacle

I named this recipe “the strawberry banana debacle” because, depending on the ratio of spinach to strawberries you use it may end up looking, well, like a frothy cup of a big mistake. But it doesn’t TASTE like a mistake, and that’s all that matters, right?

As always, If you want to up the protein—especially if you’re a vegetarian (like me) or not actively trying to lose weight (unlike me) I suggest adding one scoop (100 calories) worth of vanilla whey powder. I don’t think it hurts the taste, but try it and see what you think.

The recipe makes about a serving and a half, but I drink the whole thing, because why not? If you’re less ambitious, this recipe is big enough to share with somebody.

NB: Take out the Greek yogurt and you’ve got a vegan smoothie, though I’d suggest adding tofu or something similar to improve the texture.

An aerial view of the Strawberry Banana Debacle. Looks disgusting, tastes great.

An aerial view of the Strawberry Banana Debacle. Looks disgusting, tastes great.

Ice cubes, 4-5

Coconut milk, 1 cup (I use ½ cup unsweetened and ½ cup unsweetened)

Greek yogurt, ½ cup-1 cup (I prefer vanilla, but plain will work too)

Frozen strawberries, 1 ½ cup (or more if you want)

Banana, 1 whole, cut into pieces

Fresh baby spinach, 2-2½ cups (or however much you can stomach!)

Calories: 327-372

Keep in mind that spinach should be the LAST thing you put in the blender, because it can clog everything up. In fact, your life will be much easier if you blend everything else first, and push the spinach down into the blender afterwards.

If you try this recipe and you aren’t thrilled by the taste for whatever reason—you used a nasty tasting whey powder, or you have a strong aversion to spinach—try adding ½ cup of frozen pineapples (41 calories) to the mix. If you aren’t loving this smoothie then, this ain’t the recipe for you.

If you’re catching the smoothie bug and want another recipe to tide you over until my next post, check out The Big Purple Giant!

“The Six Million Dollar Scholar” is the personal blog of Andrea Milne, a Ph.D. candidate in modern U.S. History at the University of California, Irvine. To get the story behind the blog’s name, click here.

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