My Version of Smoothie 101

My Version of Smoothie 101

I love smoothies. We make them almost daily in our household and they are a great way to add some extra fruits and veggies to your diet. I especially love that they make a satisfying breakfast or snack without feeling too heavy, and they are adaptable in many ways.

In fact, they fall into a category for me much like sandwiches or salads where it almost seems redundant to list a ‘recipe’ here. However, I have a bit of a history of trying to get smoothies right. (Much like cooking rice without undercooking or burning it, but that is another story.) Basically, I would throw anything that sounded good together in a blender and hope for the best. I almost always ended up with a mixture that tasted okay but was too gloppy or slushy, or too sweet, or not sweet enough. It seemed like a smoothie should be simple, but I never managed to hit the right consistency.

Then one day a few years back while pregnant with my daughter, I came across a recipe for a mango smoothie that seemed to hit all the right notes: creamy, cold, thick and slightly sweet. It had a basic structure that seems to work really well across different ingredients:

  • About a cup or so of frozen fruit (cold)
  • Water or juice (liquid), enough to almost cover the fruit
  • Half a cup of plain yogurt (thickness/creaminess)
  • A banana (sweetness and creaminess)
Smoothie 101
Basic mango smoothie structure.

So for a basic fruit smoothie, this formula works really well, and is infinitely adjustable for your own taste. There were a few other factors involved, though, in making smoothies a painless process.

Initially, I made smoothies in an immersion blender, which is fantastic for a single serving and less cleanup. But often ingredients would not blend well or the smoothie would spatter on to the countertop and myself. Over time, I discovered that the order of ingredients makes a difference.

  1. Harder to blend items, like frozen fruit, should go in first, followed by liquid. Allowing this to sit for a few moments will slightly soften the fruit, making it easier to blend, and keeps the ingredients most likely to splatter near the bottom.
  2. Adding the yogurt at this point makes a cap over the liquid that helps prevent splattering. It is also a good time to add any extra ingredients like honey or wheat germ, which will stick to the yogurt.
  3. Finally, break the banana on top in a few pieces. The banana, especially when ripe, will be the first thing the blades hit and like the yogurt, seems to make a cap that prevents splatter as you work your way down.

In a standard blender, which I use most often now in larger batches, I find this same order works best as well, though the blade is at the opposite end. Having the liquid at the bottom helps the blade pulverize the fruit and draws the creamy ingredients down into it.

Smoothie 101
Mmmmmm.

A few additional notes about smoothies:

  • You don’t need a fancy blender. It’s certainly nice to have a higher-powered motor, but it’s not a requirement.
  • If you don’t have a fancy blender, blending for beyond when the elements are broken down will result in a creamier smoothie, about 60 seconds or so.
  • Certain items benefit from a run on their own in the blender beforehand. For example, if you are adding spinach, blending it with water ahead of time and then adding the other ingredients with help incorporate it more fully into the smoothie.
  • Adding about 2 tsp of cocoa powder to a fruit smoothie, particularly strawberry or cherry, makes for a creamy, chocolate treat. (This works best when using water or milk/milk alternative as a base rather than juice.)

So that is my idea of a perfect smoothie. What are your favorite combinations?

 

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