‘Smooth’ Out The Day: Easy Smoothie Tips and Recipes

Are you a smoothie fanatic?  Do you make your own at home?  If not, have you every wanted to make your own smoothie, but didn’t know exactly how to do it?  Do you or your children find it hard to eat enough dairy, fruits, and veggies on a daily basis?  If any of these describe you, then read on.  Smoothies are extremely easy to make (assuming you have some sort of blender to use), and they are a delicious way to add low-cost, all-natural, nutrition to your diet.

Smoothies can be made with numerous combinations of many different fruits, vegetables, and herbs of your choosing — it’s up to you!  One of the great things about smoothies is that they can be made with as few as two ingredients.  In fact, my favorite kind to make is simply one banana blended with one cup of milk (plus a generous sprinkling of cinnamon).  I refer to this as a “licuado”, inspired by the Mexican version of smoothie that I have consumed at every opportunity when traveling south of the border.

Smoothies are also a delicious way to consume produce that is past its prime (the browner the banana, the sweeter the drink), or dairy that is nearing its expiration.  The smoothies I make are generally dairy-based with milk and yogurt (I’ve even used cottage cheese before), but they can also be vegan, made with water, juice, ice, or your preferred dairy substitute, such as coconut milk.  For the adults, they can certainly also be made into a healthy cocktail by adding the liquor of your choice!

I often like to make my smoothies thick, like a shake, especially when the weather turns hot.  This is easily accomplished by adding some of the ingredients in a frozen state, such as frozen chopped fruit or berries or small frozen cubes of yogurt.  Just make sure that the frozen pieces are sized appropriately to blend easily, and that your blender can handle the extra work.  Otherwise, slightly defrost the frozen ingredients before using them.  For example, my blender can easily handle blueberries straight from the freezer, but larger frozen strawberries must be softened first.

I use mostly fruits in my smoothies, but many vegetables make great additions.  In fact, I regularly have fresh spinach around, and I often add a handful of it into a berry-dairy smoothie.  In taste and appearance, spinach virtually disappears, but your glass now has an added punch of vitamins and minerals!  I recently came across a post from another blog of 12 Great Tasting Smoothie Recipes, using several green, leafy veggies, that look great.  Check it out!

As you probably know, prepared smoothies are widely available at grocery stores, malls, and other places where thirsty people with money can be found.  Almost invariably, they are quite expensive.  You can usually make one on your own, with better ingredients, for less than a quarter of the price.  Also, some purchased smoothies are healthy, natural, and delicious, but there are many others that are packed with syrup or artificial ingredients.  Just be sure to ask about the ingredients before ordering one.

I find it generally unnecessary to add any extra sweetness to smoothies — the natural sweetness of the fruit is usually more than enough.  I admit that I often use a flavored, organic yogurt as one of the ingredients (Vanana from Trader Joe’s is my favorite), that includes some form of sugar in the ingredients, but I never add straight, refined sugar or any artificial sweetener to my smoothies that add nothing to the nutritional value.  On occasion, when an extra dose of sweetness is needed, I will add a tablespoon of a fruit spread to a smoothie, or I drizzle a little raw, local honey, which can actually provide health benefits when consumed daily, particularly for seasonal allergy sufferers.

So, if you are willing to give this a shot, or if you’re looking for some new smoothie ideas, here are a few recipes to get you started:

Smoothie Simplicity / Licuado (one serving)

1/2 cup fruit, fresh or frozen (e.g. banana, mango or any kind of berry)

1 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Dairy-Berry-Banana Smoothie (two servings)

1 banana

1/4 cup frozen berries

1 cup milk

1/2 cup yogurt, plain or flavored

1/4 cup fresh spinach leaves (optional)

1 Tbsp. flax seed (optional)

Mango-Peach Smoothie (two servings, Vegan)

1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

1 ripe peach, peeled and cut into chunks

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup crushed ice

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 Tbsp. apricot jam or local honey (optional)

For each of the recipes above, combine all the ingredients in a blender until smooth, and enjoy!

Finally, let’s talk a little about the blender.  I used to have this ancient Osterizer given to me by my grandmother when I was in college.  Despite having been around for about 30 years longer than I had, this thing made the most amazingly frosty and silky smoothies.  But one day, it started to smoke (not cigarettes, but from the cord), so it had to go away, and I was left to use a highly-rated, but poorly-functioning Kitchen Aid blender that I got as a wedding gift, which crushed ice like a champ, but left nothing but lumps in my smoothies.  I also tried a milkshake mixer, which was good for frothing, but not blending.  So what is a smoothie if not smooth?  More recently, I acquired an immersion blender, (aka “blender wand”) by Cuisinart.  This is the perfect tool for smoothie-making.  It creates minimal mess, it allows you to direct blending where it’s needed, and it makes my concoctions perfectly smooth.  Of course, whatever tool you want to use is fine, but this is what I have found to be the best!

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  1. Paul

     /  May 15, 2011

    Hail to the smoothie! Hey Sis, we use the same mixer. Neat.

  1. How to beat the heat and not go hungry — some tips from a foodie living without central A/C « Two Dancing Buckeyes

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