Smoothies, now here’s a new addition to the blog but not to my eating life. For years, I bought Innocent Smoothies, sold by their apparently minimalist approach to the processing of the fruit and vegetables, fun marketing and seemingly very ethical way of business. However, they are pretty pricey and all those plastic bottles going to landfill don’t inspire me to keep on buying them. Once I found myself able to buy a Nutribullet in January (thanks to my folks for some Christmas money!), I’ve not bought a single processed smoothie and I’m now using it at least every other day to make thick and luscious fruit smoothies which make me feel really healthy (smug) and one recipe I’ve concocted in particular, I think, is extra good. That would be my Tropical Smoothie.
Named Tropical thanks to the addition of frozen pineapple and mango, this fruity drink is zingy and fresh and just a little bit of the exotic. Think Solero ice cream and you’ll be in the right flavour ballpark. I just love it and will have it for breakfast, lunch or even in place of dessert when I want something sweet but nutritious. I know, it’s astonishing 😉 It’s packed full of nutritious foodstuffs and even a sneaky vegetable that you wouldn’t be able to pick out of a line up (shhh, it’s spinach)! Now at this point, I have to lay my dietetic cards on the table – I’m not one for fad diets, “superfood” hyperbole or other such nonsense. Yes I do the 5:2 diet to help me control my calories (and very effective and easy to incorporate into my life it is) but that’s as much as I buy into the commercialisation of healthy eating. Moderation and variety are the only two buzzwords you need to keep your diet in check – we can all be guilty of eating too many cakes, chips and drinking too much wine (or whatever your poison is) which is often the result of day to day stresses and pressures, meaning all us foodies turn to comfort food when the going gets tough. Smoothies are a fantastic way to increase the number of food groups you get into your day – I add oats, seeds, nut milk, fruit, veg, yogurt, cottage cheese in various combinations in mine as the blender is powerful enough to purée them all (raspberry seeds don’t seem to break down and carrot needs a prolonged blend to get it smooth enough to be palatable) so there are no strange textures to surprise your tastebuds with!
In feeling guilty about acquiring another gadget, I was driven to do my homework about smoothie making so figure out how to get the best out of my new toy. Nope, this isn’t sponsored by Nutribullet, I just think it’s a great bit of kit. The first few smoothies I made with it were a bit, well pants really, so to help you avoid that, here’s the things I thought would be helpful if you are just about to buy a Nutribullet or similar machine. to help you get the best out of your smoothies:
- The order of ingredients – this matters. The booklet will tell you the usual order of types of ingredients, which helps prevent unblended lumps. Definitely worth sticking to this.
- Oats – 2 tbsp is the maximum you can get away with per smoothie of this size, without being able to taste them (plus remember if you are making porridge, 2 heaped tbsp is the usual serving for one – they swell a lot and will fill you up quickly).
- Bananas – peel, slice in half and freeze in a single layer then place in a freezer bag, ready to add a half per drink; you shouldn’t be able to taste banana unless yours were exceptionally ripe when frozen (I wait for the first sprinkling of brown flecks to their yellow skin and freeze then or they are way too strong for my taste).
- Seeds – chia and linseeds are regulars but be careful how many you add as they are calorific little dots! A tsp of each is as much as I add per drink.
- Spinach – buy yourself a bag of frozen spinach (chopped or whole leaf) and zap it in the microwave before adding to your smoothie; the Nutribullet isn’t strong enough to purée the solid little hockey pucks they come in so they do need thawing first; in the quantity stated you can’t taste it but it will turn your drink green.
- Frozen fruit – it’s cheaper, will be flash frozen so has more nutrients left than many fresh items and it’s cheaper plus better flavoured than fresh when out of season; use at least half the container’s volume of frozen fruit or your smoothie will be warm and not so pleasant to drink (unless you throw two big ice cubes in when you blend).
- Liquid – so important to add some liquid! Unlike a juicer, Nutribullets and the like blend up the whole produce in the jug and whilst I like mine thick enough to stand a spoon in, you need a minimum of 180 if not 250ml liquid to get this texture (3/4 to 1 cup worth).
- Calories – I know this sounds hypocritical after all that whingeing about “health food” commercialisation but the fact is, nutritious though they are, all these ingredients have a calorie count and it can add a significant number to your daily caloric intake. I have mine instead of breakfast or lunch but you could of course add some *gasp* exercise into your day to offset those pesky kilojoules of goodness 😉 (…maybe that will be my next project, maybe…)
- 1 nugget of frozen spinach (chopped or leaf)
- Half a frozen banana
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
- 1 clementine, peeled and checked for pips
- 1½ tbsp whole rolled oats
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp linseeds
- 180-250ml (¾ - 1 cup) almond milk (you can use any milk you like though, or just replace with water)
- Zap the spinach in the microwave for 60 seconds to thaw it - don't worry if it is a tiny bit frozen in the middle, scrape it into the blender cup.
- Follow with all the ingredients in the order stated.
- Blend for up to 60 seconds and check it is done by taking the cup off the base and give it a good shake to detect any chunks left. If smooth, check the texture and add more liquid if you prefer a thinner smoothie.
- Serve immediately.