Six Million Dollar Smoothies: The Bluth Banana

Prepare yourself. I'm going full "Arrested Development" fan girl in this post.

Prepare yourself. I’m going full “Arrested Development” fan girl in this post.

Today was a terrible day from start to finish. My plans got hijacked by a situation entirely beyond my control.. I quite literally did not accomplish a *single* thing on my to-do list, despite working non-stop from 6 AM to almost 4 PM. Made myself sick, because once the adrenaline wore off and I shifted out of emergency mode, I realized that I’d not eaten in nine hours. Oops. 

We’ve all been there, for one reason or another… one needs to recover from days like this.

I know, right? Seriously.

I know, right? Seriously.

 

Good thing I know how to make an insane chocolate smoothie! Not only is it yummy, but it makes me think of a TV show that’s brought me tremendous joy for over a decade now: “Arrested Development.” It’s been a coping mechanism of choice for a long time now, and has seen me (and several of my closest friends) though days FAR worse than today.

Strap in, folks. Chocolate therapy is about to begin.

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.


There's ALWAYS money in the Banana Stand. I could make Arrested Development references all day if you wanted me to... No? Oh. Alright, then.

There’s ALWAYS money in the Banana Stand. I could make Arrested Development referenced all day if you wanted me to… No? Oh. Alright, then.

The Bluth Banana: “Ten cents gets you nuts!”

This is an EPIC smoothie. Intentionally thick, and high in both calories and protein, it’s perfect for breakfast. If you aren’t a glutton like me, you should probably have half for breakfast, and refrigerate the remaining half for dessert, or a snack later in the day.  

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.

The Bluth Banana in all her glory!

The Bluth Banana in all her glory!

Ice cubes, 4-5

Chocolate almond milk 1 cup

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

Banana, 1 whole, cut into pieces

Chocolate whey protein powder, ½ scoop

Creamy peanut butter, 2-3 tablespoons

Calories: 724

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

“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.

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.

Six Million Dollar Smoothies: The Big Purple Giant

There are a great many food bloggers out travelling the information superhighway, and personal finance bloggers too! I don’t consider myself to be either of these things. SMDS is about learning how to survive and thrive in graduate school, with a dash of my own research interests for color. It’s hardly surprising, however, that my first-ever food-focused post turned out to be quite popular. After all, grad students love food, especially cheap food. I got a few requests for recipes, so I’m going to space them out over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to keep experimenting… see how many of these bad boys I can think up.

I cannot emphasize enough that I am NOT a food blogger. If you needed any more evidence of that, here's photographic proof. I promise I'll get better.

I cannot emphasize enough that I am NOT a food blogger. If you needed any more evidence of that, here’s photographic proof. I promise I’ll get better.

A quick refresher for anybody who didn’t read my last post: I am in the midst of a diet, so I am using smoothies 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 half the calorie content.

Ask and ye shall receive dear reader. Without further ceiling staring and shuffling of feet, here’s my first recipe in my ridiculous new series: Six Million Dollar Smoothies. 


 

The Big Purple Giant 

This is a great way to get your greens in without sacrificing taste.

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 is HUGE, 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.

The other great thing about smoothies that I forgot to mention? You can *actually* get work done while drinking them. When I try to eat at my desk, it's a comedy of errors.

The other great thing about smoothies that I forgot to mention? You can *actually* get work done while drinking them. When I try to eat at my desk, it’s a comedy of errors.

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 blueberries, ¾ cup

Banana, 1 whole, cut into pieces

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

Calories: 352 – 307

 

“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.

I’m Shrinking, and So Are My Bills!

Last month I made a promise to myself to lose twenty pounds by Thanksgiving.

Before I say anything else, I want to be super clear that this isn’t going to be a “thinspirational” blog post. I promise. This is NOT the place to go for fat-shaming rhetoric. Fact is, I was actually *quite* happy with the person I saw in the mirror a month ago.

In the past several months, however, an old medical problem has resurfaced—albeit in a new way—and my mobility has been severely compromised. I’m heading to surgical consult number two this week, so needless to say, the process of getting better is going to take a while. Until then, I just have to make it work, which means limiting my activity, and taking pain medicine. The only other thing that I can do for myself right now… is lose weight.

Makes sense right? When you’re carrying extra weight your joints are carrying it too, and—right now anyway—mine can’t afford any extra strain.

I promised to lose twenty pounds by Thanksgiving as an act of radical self-care, knowing full well that it was going to be a major uphill battle given my inability to exercise like I used to. Good news folks: I’m about seven pounds lighter today than I was this time a month ago! Hooray for me!

Actually, there’s more than one reason to be proud of me. Here’s reason number two: I didn’t anticipate that this would happen, but in adjusting my diet, I’ve also started saving a TON of money. Like, my grocery bill for the week has been halved, and then some.

THAT, my friends, is knowledge I feel a genuine obligation to share.

In the past I’ve been surprisingly successful using SlimFast shakes to lose weight, but there was NO chance of me trying that again, because it turns out I’m a little on the lactose intolerant side. I’ve significantly cut my dairy intake, and never drink milk anymore. I know meal replacement (“drinking your breakfast” of a different sort) works for me, so instead of buying shakes, I’ve started making my own smoothies.

Poor graduate students everywhere: you do NOT need a Vitamix or a fancy pants juicer to make a decent smoothie. A regular blender does the job just fine. That first shopping trip—the one in which you acquire bag upon bag of frozen fruit—is a little painful, but after that, your weekly shopping bill will go through the floor. MY GROCERIES FOR THIS WEEK COST ME UNDER $40. That’s fourteen plus smoothies, ingredients for a giant batch of homemade Santa Fe style Beans n’ Rice, and the staple foods I needed to replenish.

NB: I cook and freeze meals en masse about eight times a year, so I always have a variety of dinner options despite only cooking one big meal a week. If you’re cooking all of your meals the week you eat them, your grocery bills are always going to be big. Sorry.

High protein smoothies are not inherently diet-friendly—in fact, you have to craft your recipes very carefully if you ARE trying to lose weight with them—so replacing one to two meals with this stuff isn’t just a tip for grad students to lose weight. Nope. It’s a tip for folks like me who (1) desperately need to save money, (2) can fill up on a “liquid lunch.” and (3) won’t get too bored with the “smoothie experience.” I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to food (really, I just want to be full), so, provided I get to have different kinds of blended fruit beverages whenever I want, I’m perfectly happy to drink two a day while counting my imaginary money.

I knew "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" was an actual movie, but never realized that  Lily Tomlin starred in it. Onto the to-do list it goes!

I knew “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” was an actual movie, but never realized that Lily Tomlin starred in it. Onto the to-do list it goes!

So there you go folks. A quick and painless way to save at the supermarket and stay healthy at the same time, brought to you by the Incredible Shrinking Scholar. Hit me up in the comments section if you’d like some recipes, or have some of your own that you’d like to share with the rest of the class!

“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.