Smoothies date back as far as the 1930s, when health food stores in California began to offer pureed fruit drinks inspired by Brazilian frothy drinks that often contained crushed ice or frozen milk.
Nowadays smoothies are popular around the globe and are enjoyed as a nutrient-dense breakfast alternative or a healthful pick-me-up in the afternoon.
Smoothies are a wonderful meal for the warmer months of the year. Because most smoothies are based on raw fruit and vegetables, they have a cooling effect on the body that is welcome in the summer but not desirable in the winter.
I consider them food as opposed to drink. Unlike juices, which contain only the liquid part of a fruit but not the pulp and fiber, smoothies are a whole-foods creation—and they are often so nutrient-dense that they will fill you up and give you clean energy for many hours to come.
Since most smoothies are fruit-based, it is best if you add some fat and/or protein to make sure you don’t get a sugar rush and to slow down the digestion process a bit so that you can really get the most out of your power-packed liquid food. You can accomplish this by adding some full-fat yogurt or kefir, an avocado, coconut oil, soaked nuts or nut butters, chia or flax seeds.
Typically here are three to four main components to a smoothie:
A liquid. Water, coconut water, coconut milk, a nut or seed milk, fruit juice, tea, coffee, yogurt, kefir or plain milk (only in smoothies that do not contain any acidic fruits that would make the milk curdle).
Fruits and berries. Most fruits and berries work well. They can be fresh, frozen or dried. But kiwis tend to make smoothies taste bitter because the seeds, when crushed, release bitterness. Add kiwis at the end of whipping up your smoothie, and do not puree too thoroughly to avoid breaking the seeds. Watermelon makes a smoothie too watery, but other melons can work well.
Vegetables. Leafy greens, wild greens, celery, cucumbers, carrots, beets, zucchini, and tomatoes are suitable.
Extras. Ground spices, ginger root, turmeric root, garlic, nut butters, soaked nuts, chlorella or spirulina powder, wheat or barley grass powder, bee pollen, chia or flax seeds, aloe, cacao, coconut flakes, coconut oil, fresh herbs like parsley, basil or cilantro are good additions.
If a little extra sweetness is required, you can add raisins, dried pitted dates, honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup.
I am personally not a big fan of iced drinks because they are too big of a shock to the body and will dampen your digestive fire. But for a treat once in while during the heat of summer, feel free to add some ice cubes instead of water or use frozen fruits or berries when making your smoothie.
There are endless variations to the theme of a smoothie and you can let your creativity run wild.
Bananas make a good base for smoothies as they provide a welcome creamy consistency and add a little sweetness. Their taste is neutral and goes well with most other ingredients you might want to add. Avocados are also great for creaminess and add some welcome fat and even protein.
Green smoothies typically contain some kind of leafy green vegetable or wild green, although green smoothies can be made from cucumbers and celery as well.
A few tips for enjoying a prefect smoothie:
Always start by pouring the liquid into your blender first. Cut your fruits and vegetables into chunks before adding them to the blender. You might want to roughly grate carrots and beets before adding them. Then puree everything into an even, creamy mass. Taste it and make any flavor adjustments necessary.
Eat/drink your smoothie immediately. If you need to store parts of it, place it into the refrigerator. If the smoothie separates, blend again just before consuming it.
Rinse your blender with warm water right after pouring out the smoothie. If you let it sit for a long time, any smoothie remains will dry up and become much more difficult to wash off.
When enjoying your smoothie, take your time, even chew. Remember, a smoothie is a very nutrient-dense food and should not be gulped down in a hurry. I like to eat mine with a spoon and savor every single “bite” of it.