Conquering Monsters

I feel so proud of myself! Not to mention tough, sexy, fit, and all-around awesome. Let me tell you why. As you may remember, a few months ago the Best Husband Ever and I purchased and moved into our very first home. We absolutely love it, and the dogs are huge fans of the gorgeous yard, but there's one small drawback to our new digs -- the house is located near the top of a [very steep] hill. This isn't too much of a big deal, but the hubby and I both miss biking as our mode of transportation as the hill is pretty much a soul-killer at the end of a stressful day of work . . . or even a happy, I-got-promoted-with-a-raise kind of day. The climb up our hill via bicycle is a grind.

But we're stubborn folk. Upon hearing that one of his coworkers bikes up and down the hill at least once a day, the Best Husband Ever decided that he had to try. He rode up at the end of last week, on a very hot day, and he made it up! I was duly amazed, although he was bummed because he had to get off his bike and walk for 50 feet, and then he ran for another 50 before hopping back on and pedaling away. I'd say that's nothing less than impressive. Like I already mentioned, this hill is hard.

Well, one things leads to another, and so once the hubby made it up the hill unscathed, I knew that I had to at least try. I felt nervous, though. Check out the view from our front window -- you can't see how steep the ascent is, but it's obvious how high we are above the city in the valley:

Yep. It would be a grueling bike ride. But for some reason, I woke up this morning committed. Today, I told myself, I'm biking home. And, wonder of wonders . . . I did.

I know. I'm as amazed as you. But I'm also incredibly proud of myself. Not just for making it all the way up the hill without stopping (although that's quite an accomplishment in its own right), but for trying to ride the hill in the first place. I was quaking on my pedals, as it were, when I set out from work this afternoon, but in spite of my fears, the accumulating rain clouds, and my bike's dubious gear shifting abilities, I tried. And, secondarily, I made it . . . but only because the trying came first.

After setting my glorious personal record, I felt like treating myself to a special lunch. No, I didn't go out for lunch (for that I'd have to bike down the hill, the thought of which inspires pure terror in me), but I tried out a new smoothie concoction. Since I conquered a monster of a hill this afternoon, I decided to celebrate by blending up a green monster. (And no, I'm not talking about the mascot for the Boston Red Sox.)

Have you seen these green smoothies around the internet? They're becoming quite popular, especially in my neck of the blogosphere. I know I've read about them in posts from Jenna, Heather, Meghann, and Angela. Angel even created the Green Monster Movement with the sole purpose of collecting green monster recipes. So you can see that green smoothies (which are smoothies which incorporate some sort of leafy green like kale or spinach) are quite the rage! With all this blending going on, I just had to join in. I haven't had a green smoothie in over a year, so I figure that it's about time. (Check out my first green smoothie recipe here!)

You're probably thinking that a spinach smoothie sounds pretty gross. I suppose that you'd be right, if spinach was the only ingredient. However, that is not the case with green monsters. Favorite components of green monsters, in addition to the greens, include bananas, nut butters, yogurt, protein powders, and fruit of all kinds. What's more, once you've got everything combined and liquefied, you can't taste the spinach -- although you can certainly see how green your smoothie is as a result!

Not only are green monsters delicious and refreshing, but a fabulous and filling to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet. One cup of spinach contains tons of vitamins A, C, and K, iron, calcium and potassium, and 25% of your recommended daily value for fiber. Plus, it only has 41 calories! So spinach and other dark leafy greens can provide a whole lot of nutrition for a small amount of calories. Read more about spinach's amazing qualities at The World's Healthiest Foods.

Want to try a green monster for yourself? Start by checking out the recipe for today's post-hill success smoothie below. Also head over to the Green Monster Movement to get more green inspiration as well as submit your own green monster concoctions.

It's-Easy-Being-Green Monster Smoothie

1 banana, broken into bits
6-8 small strawberries, chopped
1/4 cup mango chunks
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup skim milk
1-2 handfuls ice cubes

Pile all of the ingredients into your blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, or the liquid reaches your desired consistency. Add more strawberries or a bit of honey if the smoothie needs a little sweetness. Pour into a glass that allows to you gaze with appropriate awe at the smoothie's emerald hue. Sip and sigh with satisfaction.

Serves 1.

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