How to make smoothies for the family
Smoothies are rich, shake-like drinks, which you can make at home and enjoy at any time of day. They are a fantastic way to encourage children in particular to eat a wide range of healthy fruit and vegetables, and also to consume a range of health-giving foods in a single meal.
Depending on your tastes and ingredients at hand, your smoothie recipe can contain a hugely diverse range of ingredients. However a lot depends upon your blender, and you should use the most powerful one you have available. You don’t need a dedicated ‘smoothie maker’, as this is essentially a blender with a tap on the front, you’re better making sure you have a higher horsepower machine that is capable of thoroughly pulverising the cell walls of whatever plant foods you want to include. Fire up a Vitamix or Cuisinart blender, and you can add pear, pineapple, kale, anything you like, and still end up with a completely smooth texture. Of course a little chewiness never hurt anyone, but it is a smoothie you wanted to make, right? And one of the key benefits of smoothies over juices is that you retain that fiber in your digestive system, right along with all the wonderful vitamins, phytochemicals and antioxidants in the fresh ingredients – so you feel full for longer as well.
Think about some kind of liquid base to start with, though if you use fresh fruit you don’t need a lot of extra liquid. A cup of fruit juice is great, though you can use milk or yoghurt, or add plant-based fats such as coconut water, soy or nut milk, or half an avocado – if you include fat in your smoothie it helps to emulsify it and stop it separating, so if you are planning to store any of it to drink later do think about this. Banana also adds a pleasant creaminess.
To your liquid you can add a mix of sweet and non sweet fruit and vegetables. Vegetables, do drink? Yes indeed! Smoothies are a fantastic way of getting stealth veggies into your family’s diet, even at breakfast, because most raw veg have a pretty bland and unnoticeable taste compared to the sweetness of the fruit. And many vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes also contribute sweetness of their own. Of course you can make a smoothie with sweet fruit alone, but this can be very hard on the blood sugar, and really misses the opportunity for including other items.
So, you want one sweet, one non-sweet, and perhaps some liquid – easy! You can also include some spices or herbs. You can also enrich your smoothie with some superfoods, such as reishi mushroom powder, aswaganda, spirulina (gorgeous blue-green drinks coming!), raw cocoa powder, tahini or wheatgrass.
Scrub your fruit and veg well, and peel if peel is inedible, or your fruit is non-organic. Depending on the power and size of your blender, you wont need to chop much – but round things such as tomatoes are better halved, and celery is so stringy its easier if you cut into short bits first. If your blender is up to it, you can include frozen ingredients such as frozen berries - always great to keep a big bag of blueberries in the freezer for just such a recipe!
Here are some combinations that work really deliciously well together
- Tomato, carrot and orange juice
- Banana and celery apple, carrot and ginger, with a little apple juice
- Orange juice, banana and carrot
- Iceberg or little gem lettuce, strawberries, avocado
- Kiwi fruit, coconut water, spirulina, tsp live honey
- Watermelon (deseed if you can face it), thin slice of lemon (unpeeled), nectarine
- Banana (ripe), cup of milk or soy milk, pinch of cinnamon
- Swiss chard, blueberries, mango
- Romaine lettuce, papaya and pineapple
- Kale, pear and banana
- Apple, kale and lemon
- Peach, spinach and blueberries
- Cherries (stoned), cucumber and coconut water
- Cantaloupe melon, little gem lettuce, strawberries
But just use these as a guide, along with whatever is seasonal, fresh and appeals to you Smoothies are easy and fun to make, the blender is about 20 times faster to clean than a juicer, and they will keep you filled up all morning. Enjoy!