Smoothie Operator!

Here is the smoothie primer I will be teaching at Gilda’s Club this Tuesday, June 19, 2012. I love smoothies. They are a great way to deliver fruits and veggies in a fast, delicious and nutritious form. You can drink them on your way to work—and make them in the time it takes to go through the drive-thru at McDonald’s. Smoothies are great fast food. Worried they won’t stick with you? Add a little protein and fat and/or complex carbs and you won’t have this problem.

Throughout I will be presuming you are working with an average blender. If you have a VitaMix or other high-powered blender, you can expand your repertoire. It will grind up apples and liquefy whole oranges (pith and seeds removed, please). The thing to remember with your smoothie is that you’re trying to balance taste and texture. If you want a really cold frosty smoothie, use as much frozen food as your blender will let you get away with. If you want creamy, choose bananas, peanut butter, avocados, yogurt. Over time, you will find your favorites. My son, Max, has recently become a smoothie devotee. I’ll share some of his tips as well as my own and another smoothie aficionado, Kathy Van Dellen Harwood, throughout.

Note: Since you are grinding up the whole plant, it goes without saying that you should try to use organic produce in your smoothies whenever possible. Wash all produce well. You might also look into buying a blender tamper (pictured here) to help move things around in the blender.

Fruit Smoothies
Start with a nice combination of fruit, fresh or frozen. Most smoothies include more than one fruit, though strawberries can hold their own (Max does not recommend a banana-only smoothie.) My favorite combos are strawberry-blueberry and kiwi-pineapple-peach, but try everything, including pineapples, bananas, pears, peaches, strawberries, kiwis, raspberries, blueberries, mangoes, and papayas.

Add some liquid ingredients: water or ice cubes, frozen or liquid non-dairy milks (I love coconut and almond milk), frozen or liquid juices, such as pomegranate, orange, cherry, apple juice

Add sweetener: If you’ve got sweet fruit, you won’t need it. But a squirt of agave nectar or maple syrup might make the perfect smoothie for you. With my Vitamix, I use pitted dates to sweeten my smoothies—think whole food! Kathy was kind enough to try soaked dates and cashews in her regular blender. She loved it! A little grainy, she said, but fine for her.

Flavor notes: How about chai tea ice cubes? Cinnamon, vanilla, brown rice syrup, cocoa powder

For extra protein, fat or complex carbs: Tofu, soy or coconut milk yogurt, soaked almonds or cashews, avocados, cooked mayocoba or great northern beans.

Add a powerhouse: A few leaves of spinach or a big leafy piece of kale or a few beans or a couple drops of acai juice will not overpower the predominant flavors.

Green Smoothies
These aren’t always 100% green. Sometimes they turn out brown (don’t look at them, just drink them). The main question here is do you want your smoothie sweet or savory? Or a combination of both. To form the base, try: romaine or other lettuce, chopped celery or cucumber, green apples, grapes, avocado

Add some liquid ingredients: water or ice cubes, frozen or liquid non-dairy milk, frozen or liquid veggies like cucumber and tomatoes and lettuce, green salsa, v-8 juice

Add sweetener: grapes and apples help to sweeten green smoothies.

Flavor notes: Lemon juice, lime juice, grated ginger, salsa verde, hot sauce

For extra protein, fat or complex carbs: Tofu, soy or coconut milk yogurt, soaked almonds or cashews, avocados, cooked mayocoba or great northern beans.

Add a powerhouse: In addition to those mentioned above, add chia seeds, ground flax seeds, hemp oil, wheatgrass or wheatgrass powder.

Below find some recipes to get you started:

Sue’s go-to breakfast smoothie recipe:
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
4 coconut milk ice cubes
4 pitted medjool dates
½ cup soaked blanched almonds
(often soak the dates and almonds in enough coconut milk to cover them in a bowl overnight in the fridge)

A basic green smoothie recipe:
Flesh of one large avocado
3 kale leaves, stems removed
6 romaine leaves, torn
2 salad cucumbers, chopped in big pieces
2 cups green grapes
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp grated ginger
½ cup water or handful of ice cubes
¼ tsp. salt

Here’s a beginner smoothie recipe from Kathy Van Dellen Harwood:
1 cup blueberries
2 frozen bananas
2-3 carrot sticks
¼ – ½ head red cabbage
almond milk to liquify
A good-sized spoonful of natural peanut butter
A couple tablespoons ground flax seed and/or chia seed.

This refreshing smoothie from Max would make a great, naturally-sweetened dessert.
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup ripe mango
1 cup fresh pineapple
4 ice cubes
¼ cup fresh orange juice (or more as needed)

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