Monday, September 27, 2010

Satisfying Smoothies

These nearly record-breaking temperatures we've been having (112 today where I live) put me in the mood for cold, refreshing, fruit smoothies. This always happens to me when it's super-hot. So this afternoon, I had a juice place make me one, which I wanted to sip as I was driving around in the heat running errands. But they are so easy to make at home, and in the summer especially I love making them for breakfast.

Smoothies are basically fruit-based blended drinks, whipped up in a blender. They get their thick texture from blending fruit or fruit juice with banana, yogurt or ice. The fun in making smoothies is selecting whatever fruit(s) are in season and what you like to eat. 

In addition to the fruit, all kinds of things can be added to smoothies to make them healthier: soy or whey-based protein powders, spirulina, herbal extracts, wheat germ or ground flaxseeds, amino acids, immune-boosting nutrients and even liquid vitamins. But unfortunately, I have found most of these healthy additives alter the flavor of the smoothie, taking away from instead of adding to the flavor of the fruit. I've certainly added my share of these healthy ingredients to my breakfast smoothies, and you can if you like, but lately I've become a smoothie purist and prefer to make the fruit the star of the show.

The best smoothie is made up of fruit that is REALLY ripe. Because of its higher sugar content it makes blending that much easier. I usually use plain, lowfat, organic yogurt, but I've seen recipes that suggest using  frozen yogurt (I imagine like plain vanilla or some fruit flavor). Or, of course, if you avoid dairy, you can use alternative like rice milk, almond milk (works nicely with a lot of fruit especially apricots and peaches), soy milk, coconut milk or coconut cream (particularly delicious and great for those tropically-inspired creations).

This year my favorite fruit has been peaches and nectarines so this recipe is one of my favorite:

Peaches Galore

1 peach, peeled, pitted, chopped
1 ripe banana
3-4 oz. peach juice (or orange juice if you can't find peach)
3-4 oz. plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. honey (depending on ripeness of the peach)
3-4 ice cubes

Whirl everything together in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass. Serves 1.

I haven't made this one but it sounds refreshing for hot days:

Melon Smoothie

3/4 cup seeded and chopped watermelon*
3/4 cup seeded and chopped very ripe honeydew melon or canteloupe*
juice of 1 lime
3-4 ice cubes

* In peak melon season, you might want to select 3-4 different kinds of melon, whatever you find. Recipe called for yogurt, but that doesn't sound right to me. I think it would be better with just the melon juice. Serves 2.

This one takes you away to a tropical island (if only for a few minutes):

Mango Fusion

2 mangoes, peeled, pitted, chopped
juice of 1 small lime
6 oz. vanilla lowfat yogurt
2 Tbsp. honey
8-10 ice cubes

Serves 2.

What about berries? Whirl them with red currant juice, a banana, and yogurt. Like tropical fruit? Take pineapple juice, add fresh papaya, mango & banana, lime juice, and coconut milk. How about fresh kiwi, pineapple juice and yogurt? The combinations are endless.

Mmmhhh, I'm cooling off already!

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