Sunday, May 31, 2009

Smoothie Operator

As consistently as the sun rises—and at about the same time of the morning—I find myself in front of a blender, mixing together tasty and refreshing fruit smoothies.

I like to blend smoothies of all kinds; I always have. I especially like doing so now that I am married to Emily. She enjoys drinking them as much as I like making them.

We were given a Waring 60th Anniversary Blender as a wedding gift. Simple and of solid brushed chrome, this blender is straight forward and powerful.

While the Covey counter packs punch, the secret to mixing consistently delish smoothies is not in the blender. Most any blender will do, so long as it is durable. It is what is in the blender that counts, and keeping a half-dozen or so reliable staples in the kitchen is critical.

So, what do I keep in-house to rock steady smoothies, day in and day out?

I always have a bunch of bananas on hand. Smoothies do not have to contain bananas, but I find that this yellow fruit gives them a creamy texture. The more banana included, the creamier the smoothie. I sometimes toss two in the blender, depending upon what I am mixing, and it is all goodness.

It does not matter much which brand of bananas you buy; I prefer Earth University, available at Whole Foods Market, because I notice that other brands of bananas turn brown more quickly than these. But any brand should work. If my bananas do begin to brown, I slice them and pop them in the freezer. When it comes to smoothie material, frozen bananas do just as well as room temperature bananas from the fruit basket.

I keep a 32-fluid-ounce box of Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value Organic Soymilk Unsweetend in the fridge. I buy it in a case of ten, so as to get the standard ten-percent discount that the store gives for bulk purchases. Nine of these boxes remain in the pantry until the one in the fridge runs low. Soy milk, like many ingredients, should be cold when put into smoothies.

I prefer soymilk for our smoothies, because it is complimentary with almost any fruit, and the tasteless, yet nutritional quality of it makes it a better cutter than cow’s milk. Its mere presence provides a liquid texture to smoothies. And this particular brand, with only 80 calories and one gram of sugar, has a certain sweetness without the buzz. (I save my buzz for coffee time.)

Speaking of sweetness, another item I pour into our smoothies is honey, the rawest I can find. Honey is the best way to sweeten smoothies, and several other drinks and foods in fact. Not all smoothies require added sweetness, however. Some fruits, like cantaloupe, for example, are perfectly sweet as they are.

If the budget is not tight, I pick up flaxseed oil from Whole Foods or The Vitaimn Shoppe. Both stores carry and manufacture a variety of flaxseed oils. I do not know which type is best, with or without lignans, so I usually select the most affordable option.

The two most relevant points I can make about flaxseed: the oil is easier to clean than is the ground seed itself and and it is a super-efficient way to get a daily dosage of essential fatty acid. Despite its benefits, when it comes to smoothie-making, flaxseed is not for the faint of heart.

Another ingredient that is not easy on the pocketbook, but I like it, is pure cranberry juice. 100% pure. For whoever has tried pure cranberry juice, it is tart. So with that in mind, when I add cranberry juice to our smoothies, honey also finds its way in the mix, simply to even the balance.

There are a couple of cranberry juices that I have seen in the marketplace: one is R.W Knudsen Family's Just Cranberry the other is L&A Juice's All Cranberry. Neither is cheap; but nor is much of either needed.

Mint, or mentha, is a cool ingredient. I grow mint in our backyard. Mint does not belong in all smoothies, but it goes well with most blends. Mint is an item that, like honey, deserves judgment on when to include it, depending upon the seasonal variety of fruit you select. Mint tastes great with watermelon, methinks.

Perhaps the key ingredient to our smoothies is açaí. I order ours from Sambazon, "the global leader in açaí." I select a 76-pack of Pure Açaí, and now that it is available, Pure Fusion, a 50-50 mix of Açaí and Acerola, another heart-healthy Brazilian fruit. The Pure Fusion, like the Pure Açaí, is available in a 32- or 76-pack. For a number of reasons, which I will not delve into in this post, if you are buying açaí in the US, there is no better supplier than the folks at Sambazon.

The final and most fun ingredient for our typical smoothie: one seasonal fruit of choice. It is the variable nature of this addition that gets my juices flowing. This is a smoothie’s "spice," if you will. If not for the seasonal fruits, smoothie-making could become blah and boring.

Local seasonal fruits are best. In spring and summer, Texas soil provides some top-notch fruits, such as peaches during this time of year, and they all work to flavor smoothies in their own way.

So, if you made it this far, you now have my recipe for consistent homemade smoothies. It is not a messy exercise and does not take long. Smoothies are an energizing and healthy way to start the day. I rarely measure how much of anything to include, because it really does not matter. If you have more than usual of a fruit that is ripe, then add it. If you want a thicker smoothie, then add less soy milk or try adding oatmeal or granola.

No smoothie is the same, but having a few staples with you helps to ensure that your smoothies will be just as delicious as the ones we have each morning in our casa.

I hope to dive deeper into the subject of fruit smoothies, and I want your feedback on what more you would like to know. I can provide a deeper look at açaí and acerola. I can look closer into the nutritional aspects of smoothies. How about seasonal fruits? Which ones are grown when and in what region? Juice shops? I can peer further into those, wherever I encounter them, be it in the United States or elsewhere. You tell me. What more about fruit and smoothies would you like to know?


  1. Excellent post, Chad! I will definitely try my smoothies with soy milk instead of cow's milk.
    I also love the Brazilian açaí. Here are some places where you can find a good açaí and other kinds of good smoothies in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

    - Bibi Sucos,

    - Big Polis Sucos,

    - Oficina do Guaraná

    Thanks for the post!

    Marcos Cerqueira

  2. @Marcos,
    Obrigado, mermão! These shops are on my list for Açaí next time in the cidade maravilhosa!

  3. @All,
    Here's a website packed website w/ nutritional information galroe on all kinds of fruits and smoothie ingredients from the Daily Juice:
    Try the turmeric!

  4. @All,
    Check article, featuring Tony Gonzalez' vegan diet: Watch the video of him blending a smoothie, including Samazon açaí.
    Be well!