Autumn-Inspired Apple and Almond Breakfast Smoothie

After an exceptionally warm and summer-like September and early October, Autumn has finally arrived in Bath. The Virginia creeper seems to have magically transformed overnight from lush green to vivid red, and the river and canal paths are littered with crunchy brown leaves and horse chestnuts. It most certainly is a beautiful time of year

First Signs of Autumn 4

And though the weather has cooled off a little, I’m still enjoying my daily smoothies. I often have them as a breakfast or lunch on the go, so I add ingredients like nut butters and chia seeds for protein, slow-release energy and to keep hunger pangs at bay. Lil’ L also enjoys smoothies as an after-school snack.

One of our current favourites is this Autumn-inspired Apple & Almond Smoothie.

Apple and Almond Smoothie

The nut butter, yogurt and chia seeds add a delicious creaminess to the smoothie as well as packing in lots more nutrients. The smoothie provides a good dose of protein, fibre and heart-healthy fats (including omega 3), as well as antioxidant vitamins C and E, and trace minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium.

And another great thing about this smoothie is that you can sneak in a handful of spinach and it doesn’t affect the taste at all!

Until recently, Lil’ L hasn’t been a fan of green smoothies. He likes his smoothies to be the ‘right’ colour. In his eyes, berry smoothies should be pink or purple, while pineapple or mango smoothies should be yellow. For him, a berry smoothie that’s bright green is just wrong. However, one day it dawned on me that I might get away with adding spinach to our usual apple and almond smoothie. Apples can be green, right?

Green Apple and Almond Smoothie

I decided to give it a try when he arrived home from school one day. Here’s how the conversation went…
“Hi!” I call out. “I’ve made you a smoothie!”
“Great! Thanks!” he replies enthusiastically. I hand him the smoothie and there’s a pause, followed by a despondent “Oh…. it’s green”.
“Yep, it’s a green apple smoothie. Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll love it”.
With trepidation he takes a sip. “Mmm, it’s really nice!” he says with surprise. Then there’s a pause…. “So what’s making it green?”
Darn, 10 year olds are sharp. Clearly the ‘green apple’ thing won’t wash with him, so I decide to own up and tell him it’s spinach. He thinks about it for a moment then decides it doesn’t matter after all. Green or not, it tastes really good.

Hallelujah, the green smoothie hang up is finally over! In hindsight, I wish I’d introduced green smoothies when he was much younger. That way, he would have grown up thinking that green berry or tropical smoothies are normal. Never mind, he’s on board now and I’m really excited to try out lots more concoctions over the coming weeks (especially as I’ve got an awesome new blender to play with).

So if you’ve got any green smoothie phobes in the family, I highly recommend trying this one on them. Start with a small amount of spinach so it’s a delicate light green rather than scary green and see what they think (just don’t mention the spinach until they’ve given it a thumbs up 😉 ).


This smoothie is perfect for breakfast on the go or as a post-school or exercise snack. Unlike regular fruit smoothies, this one is a great source of slow-release energy and will keep you feeling full up for hours.

Hands-on time: 5 minutes

Serves 1 as a breakfast (or two as a snack)

1 medium organic apple, cored and chopped (no need to peel if you have a powerful, high speed blender)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 TBSP almond butter
1 TBSP chia seeds
handful of spinach leaves (optional)
120ml / 4 fl oz / ½ cup almond milk (or other non dairy milk)
120ml / 4 fl oz / ½ cup non dairy natural yogurt
1 tsp maple syrup, or to taste

Place all the ingredients in a blender. Pulse a few times to break up the apple, then blend on high speed until smooth. Taste test, and add more sweetener, if desired.


Lemon Water, Fruit Juice and their Effects on Teeth

A couple of years ago, I decided to switch my first drink of the day from coffee to something a little more gentle. The coffee was proving too harsh on my empty stomach, leaving me with an uncomfortable ‘racy’ feeling. On the internet, I came across numerous health websites describing warm water and lemon as ‘the perfect morning drink’ because of its associated health benefits, including its ability to cleanse our systems, flush out toxins, stimulate digestion, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

Warm Water and Lemon

 Photo Source: 16 Health Benefits of Drinking Warm Lemon Water

So I made the switch from coffee to warm water with a slice of lemon, and my stomach was thankful …  However, what I didn’t realise until very recently was the damaging effect that this seemingly gentle drink can have on teeth.

About a year ago, M switched his morning drink to warm water and lemon too. Unfortunately, at his latest dental check up, the dentist was shocked by the extent of enamel erosion to his teeth. This damage has only happened in the past twelve months, and the dentist suspected that the culprit was the lemon water!

The dentist explained that the acidity in lemon softens tooth enamel and can cause erosion. If we brush our teeth soon after consuming the drink, the enamel is still soft and can easily erode. This enamel can never be replaced. When it’s worn away, it exposes the underlying dentin (making the teeth look hollow and yellow) and can cause sensitivity and cavities.

M has little time in the morning before he heads to work, so he’s likely to be brushing his teeth within 15 minutes of finishing his breakfast i.e. when the enamel’s still soft from the lemon water :/

The dentist gave us a few tips on how to minimise the risk of enamel erosion from acidic drinks…

  • Don’t brush your teeth for at least half an hour after the drink (many dental websites suggest it’s best to leave an hour before brushing)
  • Rinse your mouth out with water
  • Brush your teeth gently
  • Use a straw to limit the drink’s contact with the teeth
  • Chew sugar-free gum (this stimulates saliva which helps to neutralise the acidity)
  • Drink water frequently during the day to help wash away acid and prevent a dry mouth (as saliva is needed to neutralise the acid)
  • Try to limit acidic drinks to meal times only, to give the mouth a chance to restore to its optimal pH level (the dentist drew a graph to illustrate this point to me, which was helpful indeed!)

Since it has such a severe effect on teeth, M and I have decided to ditch the warm water and lemon altogether, and we now drink a cup of herbal tea instead. To be honest, I’m enjoying this as much as the lemon water, and my stomach has been fine too!

Herbal Tea Health Benefits

Photo Source: Herbal Tea Benefits

While lemon has one of the highest acid contents, it’s worth bearing in mind that other fruit juices and soda drinks are acidic too.

This issue of enamel erosion got me thinking about the amount of fruit juice that Lil’ L drinks. Typically, he’s been drinking a glass of juice with his breakfast, plus a carton of juice with his lunch. After our main meal, we usually make a fruit smoothie too (using whole fruits and non dairy milk/yoghurt).

In addition to the acid, there’s a large amount of fructose in fruit juice too. There’s been a lot in the media lately about the excessive amounts of sugar we’re consuming and how it’s affecting our health. Before, I’d only really been concerned about ‘added sugar’, but too much of any sugar can be harmful to us.

This past week, I’ve made a couple of changes to Lil’ L’s juice consumption:

  • In the morning, he has a glass of orange juice (fortified with calcium) with his breakfast. I make sure he has breakfast at least half an hour before he brushes his teeth.
  • The carton of juice in his lunchbox has been replaced with water. At the moment, he doesn’t like taking fresh fruit to school, so I make sure that his lunch contains vitamin-C rich vegetables instead (like red pepper) to aid the absorption of iron.
  • Fruit smoothies are now drunk with a straw

For now, I’ve been using a plastic straw which I rinse out immediately, but I’m on the lookout for a quality, reusable straw. You can buy reusable straws in so many different materials these days, including glass, stainless steel, silicone and even bamboo!

I’m also planning to get a straw cleaner, so I can make sure the straws are thoroughly cleaned out.

Next on the ‘to find’ list is a good quality, small size, eco-friendly water bottle that fits in his lunch bag and won’t leak. Now that could be a tall order. Any recommendations will be very gratefully received!