When it's January, the start of the new year inspires many people to think of better health, exercise and diet habits.
Reader Doris Busse of Whiting called me to ask for a recommendation for "a healthy and great tasting blender smoothie drink."
I can understand Doris' eagerness for a satisfying something to sip to inspire thoughts of summer, warm weather and a return to outdoor activities that don't include a scarf, gloves and shovel.
When much of the "cabin fever" time during frigid and snowy winter months keeps many trapped inside, appetites wane, while the need for a satisfying, balanced source of protein and vitamins remain important, especially during the season of colds and flu.
At the farm, fruit remains a welcome salvation. My mom has still been using last year's apples to make warm apple crisp and my older brother David loves frozen blueberries to toss into the blender smoothie drinks that are the focus of today's reader question.
As to what I recommend, simple ingredients work best.
For many Christmases, I've always looked forward to receiving a wonderful holiday card and letter from health and fitness television personality Jack LaLanne. Last Thursday marked the third anniversary since Jack's passing at age 96 on Jan. 23, 2011.
I still receive warm, well wishes with a card and letter at Christmastime from his widow Elaine LaLanne, who turns 88 in March. She reminds me it was Jack who invented the original "Instant Breakfast Drink," a term he dubbed in the late 1950s and marketed as a breakfast supplement powder "for those too busy for breakfast to put some healthy ingredients in their body instead of coffee and a donut in the morning."
As Jack used to say: "The only thing good part about a donut is the hole in the middle!"
When I make my smoothies, I use the same basic ingredient recipe advised by Jack and Elaine LaLanne, who have also sold and marketed a successful line of juicing machines bearing Jack's name for decades to make healthy drinks.
Much like Jack LaLanne's instant breakfast drink, a key ingredient is to use a couple tablespoons of whey powder, found in the health food section of the supermarket.
"Whey" is the protein-rich liquid that remains after milk has been curdled and strained. When I toured dairy farms for a press trip to Madison, Wis. in October 2010, I was fascinated by the production of cheese and the separation process that results in the creation of "curds and whey."
Just think of the popular nursery rhyme of "Little Miss Muffet, which first appeared in print in 1805 in a book titled "Songs for the Nursery," and thought to have been written by Dr. Thomas Muffet, an English physician and entomologist (the study of insects), regarding his stepdaughter Patience.
It reads: "Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey; Along came a spider, who sat down beside her, and frightened Miss Muffet away."
I can't promise my recipe featured today will frighten away our recent return of more winter cold and snow. But it is an easy and delicious way to enjoy a flavorful blend of simple ingredients for a satisfying escape from the everyday.
Phil's Favorite Whey Blender Smoothie
2 ounces fat-free plain yogurt
2 ounces mashed banana or sliced strawberries or blueberries
1 ounce honey
1 scoop (2 tablespoons) 100 percent whey powder
1 cup crushed ice
DIRECTIONS: Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Makes 2 brimming glasses of chilled goodness.
• Nutritional facts per 16-ounce serving: 110 calories, 10 gram fat (5 grams saturated) and 24 grams carbohydrates.