Anatomy of a smoothie
Anything goes once you’ve got the necessities in place
Smoothies are personal. Some people like theirs so thick, frosty and bursting with berries, they verge on soft-serve ice cream. Others want a pourable, room temperature pharmacy in a glass. Whether you want a decadent poolside refresher or a healthy breakfast, smoothies are a fast, portable way to get your daily dose of fruit and vegetables.
At its simplest, a smoothie has enough liquid to turn fruit into a thick, creamy beverage. From there, it’s a matter of personal taste. If you like yours cold, try frozen fruit instead of ice. It will deliver a chilled drink without watering down the flavour. Regardless of temperature, a delicious smoothie needs:
Liquid: Water is always an option, but for more flavour, try juice, milk (dairy, nut, rice or soy), coconut water, coffee, green tea, kefir or yogurt. The amount required will vary depending on the other ingredients added.
Fruit base: These fruits add sweetness and make the smoothie creamy. Frozen bananas, mangoes, peaches and papaya are good choices. Used sparingly, avocado, nut butters and coconut pieces will also add creaminess, while adding a bit of fat.
Flavour fruit: These fruits tend to have a high water content but are strong on flavour. Berries, citrus, grapes, kiwi and pineapple are excellent options to mix and match with your fruit base. Using these exclusively will make for a thinner, less creamy smoothie.
Greens: Many people skip this optional addition thinking greens will make their smoothie taste grassy or bitter. If you’re new to smoothies, start with a handful of the less noticeable tender greens and ramp up to larger amounts of the bitter greens.
Tender greens include baby spinach, baby kale, celery, cucumber, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce and sweet peas. Bitter greens include kale, dandelion, mustard greens and arugula. Avoid broccoli and cauliflower as they can taste foul.
Sweeteners: If your fruit isn’t sweet enough, add a touch of honey, maple syrup, agave or dried dates.
Add-ins: Anything goes here. You can add protein powders and/or flavour enhancers. Not sure what to add? Raid the pantry. Flavour add-ins range from vanilla extract to fresh ginger, cocoa nibs to chili powder or any spice you’d put in pumpkin pie. Alternatively, toss in a few sprigs of fresh herbs such as mint, basil, dill or cilantro for an unexpectedly refreshing taste. A tablespoon of flax, chia, hemp or sesame is a popular healthy-boosting addition.
For the best smoothies with the least amount of work, be sure to: Put the liquid in the blender first.
Use frozen fruit for cold smoothies
Buy good quality, eat-as-is fruit and vegetables.
Add chopped fruit and vegetables, not whole pieces. Start the blender on low and increase speed once the fruit has begun to blend.
Fixing a smoothie
Sometimes our great smoothie inspiration doesn’t emerge from the blender as delicious as you’d envisioned. If you think your kitchen-sink smoothie is destined for the drain, think again. If your smoothie is:
Too thin: Add more fruit base, some nuts or chia seeds.
Too thick: Add more liquid or waterbased fruit such as pineapple, citrus, strawberries or watermelon.
Too sour: Add a sweetener or more sweet fruit like pineapple or grapes.
Too bitter: Add some lemon or lime juice. The acidity will neutralize the taste.
To bland: Add pinch of salt, a squirt of citrus juice or a smidge of honey. Often these balancing flavours are all that’s needed to take a smoothie from plain to perfect.
Smoothies on the go
Smoothies don’t keep long in the refrigerator. They tend to separate and lose some of the vitamins that make them such a wise choice. They can also morph. Left for hours, added greens become more pronounced and can overpower the fruit flavours, while chia seeds can turn a creamy smoothie into a gelatinous mass.
For make-ahead smoothies, blend a big batch and freeze in a single-serving mason jar or ice cube trays. When you’re heading out, just grab a jar or pop several smoothie cubes into a portable water bottle. Once defrosted, give your jar or bottle a shake. No additional blending required.