Smoothie is not just the drink of the hour. It’s the drink of any hour.
It can be gulped down for breakfast, drunk as a midday snack, be a salad in a glass for lunch, quaffed after school as an energy booster or served as dessert after dinner.
Susan Westmoreland, food editor of Good Housekeeping, says smoothies gained popularity when the backlash started against juices for their sugary sweetness and fake flavors.
Made with fruits and vegetables, smoothies are sweetened with honey, fruit or agave nectars, brown sugar or maple syrup; liquified with yogurt, milk, soy or almond milk, coconut milk or fruit juices; and powered up with flaxseeds, oats, protein powder or wheat germ.
Mix and match is the mantra when it comes to smoothies, and there is no one ingredient that is an absolute must, Ms. Westmoreland says. “It needs a few cups of fruit, vegetable or a mix of fruits and vegetables, some kind of liquid such as yogurt or ice — something to move it around,” she says. “But smoothies need to have body. It’s not just a juice but blended food that has viscosity.”
In the early-smoothie days, bananas were the go-to fruit to create the magic. They are often paired with berries for a smooth taste that is sweet and slightly sour at the same time. Good Housekeeping, which came out with the cookbook, “Good Housekeeping Healthy Smoothies” (Sterling; May 2016), suggests adding grated ginger to a banana-blueberry-raspberry blend and thinning it with pineapple-orange juice for a morning smoothie, or blending fiber-rich oats and vanilla yogurt with banana and mixed berries.
Bananas can be blended with cold-brewed coffee and brown sugar for a cold glass of joe or with beets, carrots and flaxseeds for a vegetable smoothie. They also can be teamed up with spinach, celery, Bartlett pear, green apple, mango and pineapple for a fruity green drink.
When the green movement descended, spinach, chard, kale and other greens were combined with vegetables and fruits to make smoothies packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Another way to go green is to blend cucumber with green grapes, celery and sweetened almond milk. For a spicy kick, blend jalapeno with celery, cucumber, avocado, kale, cilantro and lemon juice.
“It was good to see kale and spinach getting used as a crossover. I think it makes sense, and not a bad bandwagon to get on,” Ms. Westmoreland says. “Kale salad has not jumped the shark. And why should greens be in or out of fashion?”
Just as fruits, vegetables, ice and liquids are requisites for a smoothie, so is a blender. In fact, the blender is a smoothie’s BFF and needs to be treated with some love. To be blender smart, “Healthy Smoothies” says “place liquid ingredients in the jar first, followed by the rest of the ingredients.” The liquids will pull the solids down, making sure there is even blending. If food is stuck under the blade, “use the pulse feature to dislodge it.” Also crush the ice or break it into small cubes before adding it to the blender, particularly if it has a less powerful motor.
Personal blenders are a small investment and have made smoothies the beverage of choice for millennials, who thirst for quality functional foods that can be customized and are not expensive.
When mixing and matching combinations, common sense is key, especially when it comes to flavor and color. Avoid making a smoothie with just sweet fruits, and instead combine a sweet apple with berries or citrus. Blueberries and kale thinned with pomegranate juice won’t win any beauty contest, but pomegranate juice combined with vanilla yogurt and mixed berries has a good chance of wearing the crown.
So chew on smoothies that can be downed anytime of the day. They are worth every gulp, sip and the ever-small bite.
Arthi Subramaniam: email@example.com, 412-263-1494 or on Twitter @asub.
For a feel-good morning lift, blend the usual breakfast suspects, which are packed with vitamins, into a frothy drink. I left out the ice here because I did not want a brain freeze for the first meal of the day.
2 cups cold unsweetened almond milk
2 large bananas, sliced and frozen
2 cups strawberries, quartered and frozen
1 cup cooked oats
4 tablespoons brown sugar
In a blender, combine almond milk, bananas, strawberries, oats and brown sugar. Blend until mixture is smooth and frothy. Pour into medium-sized glasses.
Makes 4 glasses.
— Arthi Subramaniam
Tropical Carrot Tango
Instead of snacking on carrots, drink them up. In this recipe, they get a tropical face-lift with the addition of coconut milk, ginger and pineapple.
1½ cups unsweetened light coconut milk
1½ cups frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup freshly grated, peeled carrot
1/2 cup cold water
1-inch piece fresh peeled ginger, grated
2 teaspoons maple syrup
3 to 4 ice cubes
In a blender, combine coconut milk, pineapple, carrot, water, ginger, maple syrup and ice cubes.
Pour into 2 tall glasses.
— Adapted from “Juices & Smoothies” by Good Housekeeping (Hearst Books; 2015)
Imagine a tasty lunch salad, and then imagine it as beverage. That’s what you’ll be drinking here.
1 cup tightly packed baby spinach
1/2 cup frozen green grapes
1 cup lemon yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
Combine spinach, cucumber, grapes, yogurt, honey and ice cubes, and blend until smooth.
— Arthi Subramaniam
Even the fussiest of picky breakfast eaters would love this smoothie. It has chocolate syrup for crying out loud.
1 large frozen banana
3/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons chocolate syrup
3 to 4 ice cubes
In a blender, combine banana, milk, chocolate syrup and ice. Blend until mixture is smooth and frothy. Pour into a tall glass.
— From “Juices & Smoothies” by Good Housekeeping (Hearst Books; 2015)
When mango lassi teams up with a bright-flavored bouquet of roses in the form of rose water, the result is a fruity-floral dance in the mouth.
3 cups mango pulp
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons rose water
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
6 ice cubes
Blend mango pulp, yogurt, sugar, rose water, cardamom and ice cubes until smooth. Pour into medium-sized glasses.
Makes 4 servings.
— Arthi Subramaniam