Basil Cucumber Smoothie for the Early Runner

For the past 2 weeks, work has started at 7:30 for me, which means a 4:30 am wakeup call to get in my midweek mid-distance runs.   Starting and ending an hour-long run before the sun even rises is really interesting… the cop that sits at the Belmont L station yelled at me “Do you even know what time it is?!?” as I ran past.  Yes officer, despite what it may seem like I am fully competent.


Normally after a long run, I like to make a big breakfast of a seitan scramble with vegan cheese, toast and fruit on the side.  The last few miles of my runs tend to be a haze as I turn to fantasizing and drooling about all the things I am going to add into the scrambly goodness.  But alas, getting in a 8-10 mile run, plus shower, plus an L ride to the office, and then starting off teacher training right away, does not leave much time for a full breakfast.   Cue the sad violin music.  Or JT singing, “Cry me a riverrrr.”  Pobre Becca.


Instead of my breakfast smorgasbord, on these days I turn to my trusty sidekick: the smoothie.  The smoothie is a great breakfast option for anyone pressed for time in the morning, who can’t stomach a big meal early in the day, or who are trying to add more greens to their diet.  It’s essential rabbit food for the early athlete.

There are TONS of ways you can make a smoothie.  Last Saturday I bought some basil and humongous cucumbers from the Green City farmers’ market which by now were on their last legs.  They were the inspiration for this latest smoothie sensation.  I’m also on a food plan that counts “units” of food, and I try to get at least 1 unit of fat and protein in every meal, especially after runs.  In this smoothie, I added avocado to get in the fat units, but feel free to take it out (or sub it for other fats as noted at the end of the post) if the idea of drinking avocado grosses you out.  Here is the recipe for this basil cucumber smoothie mish-mash:


                                         The Basil Cucumber Berry Protein Smoothie                                          (the name is just as much a mouthful as the drink!)


  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1/2 large cucumber
  • scant handful of basil
  • 1/6 of an avocado**
  • 1/2 c frozen berries
  • 1 scoop protein powder**
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar**
  • ice cubes
  • water to thin as needed

** See the notes at the bottom of the post.  This smoothie serves 1-2.

IMG_5280(Sorry for the grainy quality of the image- not pictured: apple cider vinegar)

First into the blender is everything except the ice cubes, blended on the “liquefy” setting.  Crunch, whir, crunch, whir.  Add more water as needed, and you will probably have to mix things around with a fork to help your blender get started.  Then I tossed in the ice cubes.  Pro tip:  Freeze herbs so they last longer!  These ice cubes had a mint of mint and basil (left over from two farmers’ markets ago).  I put in the 4 herbed-up ones because I like my smoothies on the thicker side.  The more ice cubes you add the thicker the smoothie will be.

  IMG_5279       IMG_5281       IMG_5282


Then ta-da! You have your smoothie.  Another pro tip:  Make these smoothies the night before and store them in these really nifty mason jar glasses with a lid, yoinked from your roommate, in order to save even more time in the morning.



Notes and other variations on the smoothie:

  • Like I said earlier, feel free to take out the avocado.  I needed the fat unit and my avocado was starting to go brown so I chose to throw it in.  If you want to include fats too but don’t like avocados or don’t have any on hand, you can sub chia seeds or flax seeds into the smoothie instead.
  • Take out the apple cider vinegar too if it doesn’t sound appealing to you.  I like the twang that it adds to the smoothie.
  • I usually use hemp protein powder, but the kind I have pictures was on sale at Whole Foods- it’s a chocolate cinnamon powder that didn’t really go well with this mixture.  I highly recommend a flavorless powder, it’s usually my go-to powder, but my wallet was dictating the last grocery trip.
  • To add carbs to the smoothie, include 1/2 to 1 whole cup of uncooked rolled oats.  I opted for a side of toast instead.


And that’s all there is to it! If you’re an early runner like me, then these are a great breakfast option.  Pair this smoothie with a side of toast and nut butter to replenish your carbs and you are ready to roll.  Buen provecho!


Thoughts on this basil cucumber smoothie?  What do you like to put in your smoothies?  Any other crazy morning runners like me out there?  Leave your comments below.


Happy running!

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