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Smoothie Secrets


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Fresh off my enthusiasm of stealing ideas from a raw living foods workshop back in February, I offer you the following tips for better smoothies. These tips teeter towards the raw/vegan spectrum, but only because I’ve been experimenting with such techniques for variety. Other’s experiences and insights welcomed.

Here’s what I’ve found:

Some Assembly Is Required

➢ Wash, chop, and store three or more days worth of smoothie ingredients in your fridge. Debbie Meyer Green Bags, if you include a paper towel to absorb excess moisture, dramatically extend the life of the chopped, leafy greens. Airproof glass or plastic containers will keep chopped fruits fresh for several days. Your smoothie will take literally seconds to make if most of the ingredients are grab-n-drop into your blender.

➢ Make your own almond milk to use as the liquid. The flavor kicks the pants (boxers?) off the packaged stuff, and is cheaper to boot. Place pre-soaked almonds in a blender with fresh water, blend until annihilated, then strain through either a fine mesh sieve or a nut milk bag. Want it sweeter? Add a date before blending. Want it floral and interesting? Add the seeds from a vanilla pod. Spicy your thing? Consider cinnamon. You can also find multiple uses for your leftover almond mash, everything from a body scrub to endless cereal possibilities if you have a food dehydrator. See the end of this post for a more precise almond milk recipe.

➢ For my blender, layering the greens on top of all other ingredients is the best. See the end of this post for a basic green smoothie recipe.

➢ For any fruits where you eat the skin, and all leafy greens, reduce your consumption of pesticides through buying organically grown produce. Seasonal and local is of course the ideal, it’s better flavor and better for your neighborhood farmer. But frozen fruit works great as well, serving double duty as the chilling agent for your mix.

➢ As with any recipe, taste before you serve. Before it leaves the blender, try a quick spoonful to ensure you don't need to add something. A pinch more of a single ingredient can make the difference between tasty and transcendent.

Parts Sold Separately

➢ Raw foodists seem to worship the same God: The Vitamix blender. Personally, I’ve found my KitchenAid 5-speed to work just fine. But if your blender is a hold out from your college days and features a Silly Putty color scheme, it might be time to upgrade. Good equipment makes a serious difference here.

➢ The right straws are critical for enjoying your smoothies. Think “Slurpee” minus the high fructose corn syrup and 17 sessions from a chemlab (not the burn out at the hydrogen bar variety). Buy a package of wider straws with a spoon on the end to grab the last bits. Better yet, make your green smoothie even greener by sporting a reusable straw.

➢ Choose a clear glass container over an opaque one. “The better to see you with” said the wolf, and so will you as you enjoy the colors of your concoction. Pint-sized bar glasses seem almost ideal.

➢ With the wide variety of components, it’s easy to enjoy a different concoction every day of the week. Adding in hemp seed, freshly ground flax seed, dried goji berry, spirulina, or other “superfoods” can be a fun experiment. If all those phrases sounded just shy of repulsive, weird, odd tasting, and/or alarming, you could instead just choose different fruits and greens each day and leave that hippie stuff for the rest of us.


Almond Milk

1 cup raw almonds, soaked for 8 hours

3-6 cups filtered water

Optional Add-Ins, choose one or more of the following:

Inside of half a vanilla pod (for floral complexity)

Half to whole Medjool date (for sweetness)

Pinch of ground cinnamon (for earthy spice)

Pinch of ground cardamom (for international flair)

Strain and thoroughly rinse the soaked almonds. Place in a blender with the desired amount of water. Blend on high power 1-3 minutes. Filter through either a nut milk bag or a fine mesh strainer. If a nut milk bag, make sure to squeeze to extract all milk. If a strainer, make sure to push down on the mash to extract all milk. Use milk in 3 to 4 days.

Basic Green Smoothie

1-2 cups fresh or frozen berries

1 fresh or frozen banana

handful spinach

handful kale

handful cilantro or other herb (optional; boosting nutrients and flavor)

water or almond milk to the consistency you desire (try 1/4 cup first)

Place fruit in the blender, with greens the last to go in. Add the liquid. Blend until desired consistency.

If using all fresh fruit, consider adding a couple of ice cubes to promote chilling and thicker consistency.

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I bought a vitamix for smoothies.

So far I'm sticking with fruits, flax or hemp seeds and spinach with a little broccoli thrown in.

I'm hoping to venture out more soon.

I have much better luck with the greens at the bottom and the frozen fruit on top of it.

I'm not organized enough to do this for breakfast--I've been having one after the little guy goes to bed instead of dessert.

I LOVE the vibrant green from the spinach!!!!

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I bought my VitaMix blender at a Costco demonstration, where the focus seemed to be on smoothies--a couple of other people there who said they already owned VitaMixes said that they used them solely for smoothies. I've talked about my devotion to mine here often enough, but I'd like to point out that I can't recall ever using mine to make a smoothie. I've made sorbet a couple of times, using frozen fruit. But I find mine to be useful in some way, just about every day that I am in the kitchen. It's a lot of money to spend just for smoothies, and as KMango points out, for that purpose a less expensive blender could do just as well. But the VM is the blender of choice in most restaurant kitchens, where they are used to make silky purees--sauces and soups, emulsion sauces. I use mine for making salsas, grinding whole wheat berries to make flour, nixtamal to make masa, pesto, fresh chutney, pancake and crepe batter, aioli and mayonnaise, home-made "frappucino" with coffee, milk and ice. There are probably many other uses that aren't right at the front of my brain at the moment. The factoid that I love most about the VM blender is that the motor is powerful enough to run a table saw. Plywood puree anyone?

edited to add: oh yeah, Anna Blume reminded me: gazpacho!

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Wittgenstein says:

"Not sure why one needs a straw to enjoy a smoothie. Save the plastic for Waitman's shopping bags."

"Smoothies are best when made for pleasure's sake. Berries, mangos, slices of very ripe banana frozen instead of discarded, leaves of fresh mint..."

"Food loses nutritional value and flavor when peeled, sliced, chopped and packed in the fridge."

"Be wary of those who blend raw vegetables for smoothies since they view food primarily in terms of nutrients unless they're Spanish and use a bowl instead of a glass. Put on some music and see if they can dance."

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Wittgenstein says:

..."Be wary of those who blend raw vegetables for smoothies since they view food primarily in terms of nutrients unless they're Spanish and use a bowl instead of a glass. Put on some music and see if they can dance."

Love it! Also brings to mind the notion of nutritionism, a dark-paved road to joyless eating.

Or you could try one of these .

Why am I reminded of The Thomas Crowne Affair?

No kelp today, but I did use two kinds of leafy greens, apples, and frozen blueberries. Looks bizarre, but tastes like a delicious fruit circus.

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I, too, succumbed to the siren call of the Vitamix lady at Costco.

This may be a good place to mention something I recently learned and have been wondering how to bring up: unless your soy products specify that they are "organic" there's a strong likelihood that they were produced using hexane as a solvent. This includes Clif bars, Lara bars, Hain/Westsoy, possibly Bragg, and many, many more.

This past weekend I went through my refrigerator and pantry and threw a lot of supposedly healthy stuff into the trash.

Thus, the smoothies I used to make with soy protein are now made with organic tofu. Eden silken tofu is nice for this. I still use Silk, but now only the organic variety. And since I am trying to keep my diabetes under control, a cup or so of lower carb unsweetened frozen fruit, preferably raspberries, but also blueberries or strawberries.

Quick, easy, high protein low carb, and no hexane. Works for me. :lol:

Last summer I made a lot of veggie drinks with low-fiber in-season vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, spinach, herbs) and soy protein. I imagine silken tofu could easily substitute for soy protein. Fiberous vegetables like carrots don't really do well in this type of concoction, but carrot juice works well.

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No Vitamix story to report. I'm a luddite with my Braun blender, a Consumer Reports best buy from so long ago that I can't remember, but I suppose that says something about trusting their recommendations. I don't grind ice, and it's still going strong. At any rate, I wanted to report an unexpected advantage to being out of juice and pouring a little Pellegrino in with the frozen strawberries and bananas. It made a fantastic texture, presumably from the carbonation. Almost like ice cream.

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