Smooth move – Victoria News
– Words and Recipes by Ellie Shortt Photography by Don Denton
Bottled breakfast? Overhyped health craze? An excuse to drink an adult milkshake? What, you might be wondering, is the purpose of a smoothie? And why, you might be wondering, did I dedicate an entire story to this?
Good questions and valid thoughts, especially if you’re someone who hasn’t yet dabbled in the fine art of smoothie making. For those well trained in this culinary offshoot, you already know the most obvious answer: you can pack a number of nutritious ingredients, boosters and other paraphernalia into a vibrant glass of goodness – nutrients you could otherwise don’t sprinkle so easily. Your dinner.
But just as importantly, they can (and should) be a delicious treat to savor whenever the mood strikes, whether it’s a super-powerful start to the day, a satisfying snack to savor or even a decadent yet nutrient-rich one. dessert.
As a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Recipe Creator, it is of the utmost importance to me that food tastes the same as it does. And that goes for body, mind and soul. You won’t drink more smoothies if they taste like swamp water, and you’ll likely absorb nutrients better if you ingest them with a smile. So let me take the stress out of assembling smoothies and offer you some of my top tips for making and enjoying more blended drinks (and bowls) in your everyday experience.
What you will need
To start your smoothie-making adventure, you’ll need a really good blender. You can use a low-powered blender, but the frustration you’ll feel and the limitations you’ll encounter will almost certainly make it a short-lived endeavor. It’s wonderfully satisfying to push a button and watch half a dozen wildly different ingredients swirl together in whirling synchronicity and within minutes present themselves as the perfect mash. If your blender is underpowered or the blades are dull, it will take lots of tries and multiple steps to get the desired result. It can be an investment, but a good quality blender is also a fantastic kitchen tool in general for making sauces, soups, and even your own nut milks.
Of course, the crown jewel is the Vitamix, although I have a KitchenAid. I’ve had it for years and it’s been with me through almost daily smoothies, almost weekly soups, and dozens of cooking class demonstrations.
How to build it
There is no right or wrong way to make a smoothie. In fact, if you ever see a smoothie “recipe” (like the ones featured here), use it as a loose guideline, take as much creative freedom as you want, and work with what you already have in the kitchen.
For a well-balanced smoothie, I like to incorporate something earthy or spicy, something creamy or sweet, and of course something sweet to soothe.
Earthy/spicy could be fresh ginger, ground cinnamon, kale, spinach, mint, cilantro, beet or carrot. Creamy/smooth is avocado (it also works for earthy), tropical fruits like banana, mango, and papaya (they also work for sweet), thick coconut cream, yogurt, seeds chia (which gelatinizes when mixed with moisture), etc. sweet, I usually let fruit do the heavy lifting (berries, cherries, apple, peach, pear, etc.), but on occasion I rely on sweet Medjool dates or even raw honey to help a bit.
Depending on the flavor profile you’re working with, chances are you’ll want to include something acidic to balance it out: something like orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, or pineapple. And then, of course, your liquid of choice will be either cold water, or juice, or milk (coconut, almond, cow, goat, etc.).
The exact amount of liquid to use is hard to say, and it will partly depend on whether you’re enjoying the smoothie in a mug or a bowl (more on that later). The good thing is that you can start with a modest amount of moisture and keep adding more until you’re happy with the viscosity.
How to level up
Now that you have the basics, let your smoothie work a little harder for you with nutrient-dense boosters. Spirulina, acai, and camu camu powder are some of my personal favorites for extra immune support and antioxidants. I also like to add flax seeds and psyllium husk for a bit more fiber.
A good quality protein powder is key if you want a more filling substance. Personally, I stick to a plain, neutral-flavored collagen powder because there are no extra ingredients to ruin the taste or my body. Not only does one scoop equal about 13 grams of protein, but several studies show that dietary collagen is important for healthy hair, skin, and nail growth, and may even improve digestive function.
If you really want your smoothie to stay with you a little longer, I suggest trying a “smoothie bowl” that sticks to your ribs. Take the recipe (directive) you are working with and add a little more creaminess and a lot less liquid, until you have a pudding consistency. Transfer this thick mixture to a bowl and top with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh berries, your favorite granola, a dollop of yogurt, a drizzle of honey – the sky’s the limit. Bonus points for clever assembly, which always seems to get extra likes on social media – the internet loves a good smoothie bowl!
And that’s basic anatomy, assembly, and the art of making a smoothie.
My last advice? Try not to swallow it too quickly or you’ll end up with a frozen brain or a bloated stomach.
Introducing your antioxidant artillery! The regal hue of this magenta wonder is undoubtedly pleasing to the eye, but the super-potent ingredients it contains are also pleasing to your immune system, digestive function, and even your sleep. Plants pigmented with deep reds, purples, and blues are often high in something called anthocyanins and another phytochemical called quercetin, which helps slow cancer growth and repair the liver. Cherries, in particular, contain natural melatonin, which aids in restful sleep, as well as decreasing systemic inflammation and associated oxidative stress. Not only do chia seeds provide a hearty thickness to this smoothie, they’re high in anti-inflammatory fatty acids, are full of fiber, and have been shown in some cases to improve digestive function.
½ heaping cup red beets, peeled and chopped
1 heaping cup cherries (frozen works best here)
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for a minute or two until smooth. Let sit for a few minutes while the chia seeds expand and gelatinize, then stir again for another minute or two.
*Note: To make this a smoothie bowl, replace the coconut milk with plain coconut yogurt or the thick coconut cream found on top of a box after separating.
So fresh and so green
An apple a day doesn’t have to keep the doctor away, but if you add folate-rich kale, digestion-soothing mint, and immune-boosting pineapple, your odds are likely up. Not to mention the fact that avocado is full of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamins C, B6, B12, A, D, K, E and is an excellent source of dietary fiber. Should I continue, or are you already ready to try this beautiful green glass of goodness?
1 medium green apple, cut and cored
2 cups loose kale
½ cup loose fresh mint leaves
½ cup pineapple, cored, cored and diced
1 ½ cups cold water
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (about two minutes).
*Note: To make this a smoothie bowl, omit the water and, if desired, add another half avocado to make it thicker.
One sip of this tropical-inspired treat and you’ll feel like the golden rays of the sun are beaming down on you. Bursting with vitamin C and probiotics, each golden sip puts a smile on your immune system, while fresh ginger and papaya soothe and nourish your digestive tract. If you’re sensitive to dairy, try plain fermented coconut yogurt — my favorite is from Vancouver-based brand Yoggu.
½ heaping cup mango, peeled and cubed
½ heaped cup papaya, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and chopped
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (about two minutes).
*Note: To make this a smoothie bowl, omit the orange juice and, if desired, add another half cup of yogurt to make it thicker.
Once you try this decadent dream, you won’t believe it’s good for you. Without even touching on the nutritional richness of bananas, almond butter and cinnamon, raw cocoa is full of magnesium and antioxidant-rich flavonoids and, when consumed, can improve blood circulation, reduce plaque buildup on artery walls and potentially diminish the effects of oxidative damage (cancer, aging, degenerative diseases). In fact, a Cornell University study found that raw cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times the antioxidants of green tea! Note that I keep saying and suggesting “raw” cocoa powder. While Dutch processing is great for baking, it’s alkalized, leaving you with a mild-tasting ingredient, but not as nutritionally potent.
2 heaping tablespoons raw almond butter
4 heaping tablespoons raw cocoa powder
1 banana, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (about one minute).
*Note: To make this a smoothie bowl, omit the almond milk and you can even add another half banana to make it thicker.
Story reprinted with kind permission from Boulevard Magazine, a publication of Black Press Media
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