Last fall I went from fiddling around with a blender that I deeply despised to owning a blender that I truly love. That simple upgrade transitioned us instantly into a family of smoothie-slurping fiends.
I’m not exaggerating in the least. When you have a great machine that whips kale, frozen banana and chia seeds into a perfectly smooth and creamy treat, it’s hard not to want a smoothie every day for lunch, Saturday included.
Most of us now have our custom preferences: I’m addicted to Autumn’s Date & Tahini combination, Noah loves a creation he’s named ‘Mango Tango’ and Mateo swoons over anything with strawberries. Clara and Danny are happy to sip whatever is handed to them.
Today I’ll share two of our current favourite smoothies. They are simple to make, vegan, dairy-free, kid-approved and downright delicious!
A recipe for delicious
I have been blogging since 2006 and have yet to blog a smoothie ‘recipe’, because to me, the beauty of the smoothie is using what you have on hand. Toss, blend, chug, get on with your life. Who needs a recipe, right?
Well, smoothies have evolved. They contain words like ‘power’ and ‘super’; they include ingredients like tumeric, goji berries and quinoa milk. When you are using pricier organic ingredients and have hopes that this drink will carry you through the day, you’re better off with a recipe, to start anyway.
With our recent craze, I’ve been inspired by the flavour combinations of others and have a new-found appreciation for smoothie recipes. There IS an art to balancing it all, especially when you start adding in textures like oats and hemp seed, or cross over to the green side with ingredients like kale and spinach.
The Anatomy Of A Smoothie
You can add as many ingredients as you want to a smoothie, but I like to cap it around 5 or 6, otherwise the taste of each ingredient gets muddled and I like to be able to discern each one. You can always try something new tomorrow. Once you start playing around with a handful of the components listed below, you’ll figure out which flavours compliment each other well and what your favourites are.
Fruits: It’s still mid winter with no thaw in sight, but fortunately I still have a freezer stocked with raspberries, blueberries, peaches, mango, pumpkin puree, strawberry coulis and a pile of other ingredients perfect for smoothies. We love dates, kiwi and ripe bananas too, which we rescue from the bargain bins at the grocery store and freeze in slices.
Vegetables: I have to be cautious about which vegetables I add to the boys’ smoothies as their palates are exceedingly discerning. Avocado, spinach, and pumpkin puree all have a green light. I enjoy the addition of kale, yellow peppers and roasted sweet potato to my glass.
Liquids: I’ve been stocking up on coconut milk and water, organic juices and kefir to mix with those fruits for the perfect texture. I’ve even made my own almond milk in the aforementioned beloved blender. Now that is a delicious base for a creamy smoothie.
Homemade Almond Milk: Soak 1 cup blanched almonds overnight in water. In the morning, drain water. Blend almonds with 3 cups filtered water until smooth. Voila. Homemade Almond Milk.
Healthy additions: Grated ginger, chia seeds, hemp hearts, rolled oats…those are some of our favourites. I’m not convinced protein powder is all that is it chalked up to be. Why not just add real foods? Cottage cheese, yogurt, nut butters, tofu and raw egg yolk (when we have our own eggs) are all good protein sources.
Flavourings: Maple syrup, vanilla, cocoa powder, nut butters, spices, honey and citrus zest have all come into play recently with rave reviews.
As you can see, my Pinterest smoothie board is proof that I have jumped onto the blender bandwagon.
6 Tips for Best Smoothies
1. Add the liquids first. Unless otherwise specified, add the ingredients in the order in which they are listed in the recipe. I have found that putting liquids in first helps get the blender blending faster rather than allowing the blades to get stuck on a hunk of fruit.
2. Balance out fruits with mild vegetables. Avocado, yellow peppers, and spinach are great choices because they don’t affect the final flavour outcome.
3. When using yogurt, opt for Greek variety. Greek yogurt has more protein than traditional yogurt. We’re trying to make a healthy snack after all. I always choose plain yogurt, and never low-fat.
4. Invest in a high-powered blender. Seriously. I’m currently loving the Diamond blender from KitchenAid. No more blender frustration. No more chunks of frozen fruit in my smoothies. No more assembling and disassembling pieces to wash after use.
5. Use frozen fruit when possible, if not, add ice. I like my smoothies as cold as can be, even in winter. Even better, make ice cubes with coconut water.
6. Start at a low speed and slowly increase the speed to a higher setting. Keep it covered!
Two favourite smoothie recipes (both vegan and dairy free)
|Meyer Lemon & Blueberry Buzz|| || |
- 2/3 cup carrot juice
- 1 1/2 cups frozen wild blueberries
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 Meyer lemon, scrubbed
- 1 Tablespoon liquid honey
- 1 Tablespoon white chia seeds
- In a blender, combine carrot juice, blueberries and the avocado. Blend on medium-low speed or a 'chop' setting until the ingredients are broken down.
- Turn off the blender and remove the lid. Zest the entire Meyer into the blender. Cut the lemon in half, and juice it. Add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to the smoothie.
- Add the honey and the chia seeds. Replace the lid and blend until smooth.
- Pour into a glass, add a straw and serve.
Thanks to both the chia and the blueberries, this smoothie will firm up if you don't drink it right away. Not to worry, just give it a good shake and enjoy.
|Green Piña Colada Smoothie|| || |
- 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1 cup frozen mango cubes
- 2 1/2 cups lightly packed spinach
- 3 Tablespoon coconut milk
- 1/2 banana
- pinch of sea salt (optional)
- Combine the pineapple juice, mango and spinach in a blender. Blend on medium-low speed or the 'Chop' setting until the spinach is broken down.
- Stop the mixer and add the coconut milk, banana and salt. Blend until smooth.
- Pour into a glass, add a straw and serve.
More tips for smoothies
- Green Smoothie Tips. If you’re a fan of batch cooking, take a tip from Cheryl of Tidy Mom and prep ingredients for multiple smoothies at once. Then bag and freeze until the mood strikes.
- I’ve been prepping and freezing smoothies for my boy’s school lunches, at the advice of Shaina from Food for My Family. It works like a charm.
- Not a fan of the green smoothie yet? Here are 10 that actually taste great.
- I haven’t tried the mason jar on a blender yet. Have you?
(An excerpt of this post was previously published in April, 2012)
Share your favourite smoothie combination in the comments!!