Smoothie Madness!

Is it just me, or are smoothies very "in" these days? At any rate, while it may be a little too cold this winter to be thinking about smoothies, a month of breakfast just would not be complete without them.

Now I know I spend a lot of time here mentioning ways to add more vegetables to your meals, but I will be the first to admit that I fall quite behind on my fruit promotions. That's why MY New Year's resolution was to eat more fruit...and have a bowl of seaweed every day (but more on that later.) So aside from having a banana every morning and an orange with my lunch, I've been smoothie-loading every weekend this year ("year"- hah).

Another thing I know I say a lot is "you can put almost anything in this...blah blah blah". Well, here I go: you can put anything, ANYTHING in a smoothie. Even your iPhone, as one of the most popular internet videos of all time has demonstrated here. Ok, but seriously, depending on what kind of mood you're in, you can put a lot of crazy *stuff in a smoothie. Fruits, of course, are the most popular, but you can also get kinky and creative. My boyfriend's even been trying to sneak oatmeal into one of our weekend concoctions all month...which can be done, I just don't like oatmeal.

So however you feel like experimenting, just keep in mind that a smoothie usually needs a few key parts: something creamy, something frozen, something liquid and all the crazy *stuff you want to flavor it with. "Creamy" can be yogurt, ice cream or even milk; though this is the part that's the most optional.  2nd most optional is the "frozen". LOTS of recipes call for ice cubes. I don't like ice cubes (they don't "add" anything and can water it down) so instead I freeze pieces of fruit. You can buy frozen fruit, of course-- and even smoothie-ready packs nowadays --I just find both needlessly expensive. And you can go completely un-frozen...just a different texture. Liquid you can't skip out on, however, 'less your smoothie won't blend. Try to go for fruit juices that complement your selected flavors, and when in doubt, use apple juice.

Finally, there are two key questions that everyone always asks about smoothies: 1- How do you know how much *stuff to put in? and 2- Can you make them ahead of time and store them? Well...
  1. At some point you'll get a natural feel for it, but when I need help, I take the glass I'm going to use and fill it about 1/2-2/3 full with stuff (ie: fruit). Your "creamy" and liquid portions can then be added directly to the blender as necessary to blend. You may be surprised how much this adds to the size of your smoothie.
  2. Not really, but yes. Refrigerating gets you nothing-- depending on how long it's in there, it will gradually melt and separate. Freezing will give you a solid mess which can then only be salvaged by very quick 10sec microwaving and then eating with a spoon. Not ideal. One fun idea may be to stick a popsicle stick in your glass before freezing and then eat it like a popsicle. Yes, embrace your inner child. 

Given the vast array of smoothie concoctions imaginable, the following are a cross-sectioning of different smoothie types that I've been working on that can hopefully be used as inspiration.  Note that based on the two points above, the "recipes" below stray from my usual method and made for ONE. Multiply as necessary.

Very Berry
The Classic Smoothie

The most popular and probably the prettiest, everyone wants to take Very Berry to the prom. Lots of recipes call for mixing multiple berries in this one, but since only blueberries seem to be in season for me, here's my adaptation. Also, beware of frozen blueberries- some blenders can't handle 'em.

- 1/2 an apple
- 1/2 an orange
- ~1/4 cup of blueberries (frozen/fresh)
- 1/2 cup of cranberry juice
- 2 heaping Tbs of yogurt (plain or vanilla)

Peanut Butter Cup
The Body-Builder Smoothie

The recipe I based this one on called for yogurt, but I wasn't a big fan of that flavor. I used milk as the liquid base and that turned out well, so next time I'm looking forward to no yogurt or substituting ice cream instead (hey, this is meant to be eaten after you work out, right...) And if you're not into protein powder, drizzle chocolate sauce or honey instead.

- 1/2 a banana (frozen/fresh)
- 2 heaping Tbs of smooth peanut butter
- 1 Tbs chocolate-flavored protein powder
- 1/2 cup milk/soy milk
- 1-2 Tbs yogurt (plain or vanilla)

Orange Creamsicle
The Dessert Smoothie

One of my all-time favorite flavors...just had to develop it. You can take this a few directions: Substituting yogurt for the ice cream will give you more health, less dessert, and while with the family this Christmas, I discovered that substituting a Boost drink for the ice cream or yogurt was quite good. I also used to make these in my cafe with orange soda instead of orange dessert mode there, but oh so yummy. And finally, I used apple juice the other day 'cause I didn't have any orange around, and it gave the drink a nice "fizzy" flavor.

- 1 orange (preferably frozen)
- 1/2 a mango
- 1/2 cup orange juice (or orange soda or milk or wtv...)
- a couple scoops of ice cream

[okay, may end up being more than one serving...]

Green Meanie
The Bizzaro Health-Food Smoothie

OK, this may sound and look and smell funny, but if you like seaweed (which I do...) this is actually an interesting & decent drink. Also, seaweed is supposed to be incredibly good for keeping your skin youthful and rumor has it Posh Spice used to drink something similar before concerts. There are lots of other green smoothies out there (I'm not entirely crazy) that use spinach, kale, avocado and, of course, wheatgrass... so don't be afraid to throw in some veggies and get your green on...

- 1/4 cup re-hydrated wakame seaweed (it comes dried and needs to be soaked-- use only a tiny bit 'cause it plumps up A LOT)
- 1/4 cup cubed cucumber (frozen)
- 1/2 an apple
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1 Tbs yogurt (plain or vanilla)

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