Summer Juice Smoothie Recipes
When you hear the word "smoothie" your thoughts may turn to blended fruity drinks perfect for sipping on a hot summer afternoon. These thick concoctions can be much more though. Think of the smoothie as the great pretender. It's thicker than a slushy and often more nutritious than a milkshake. It's the middle ground between a liquid and a solid, can integrate lots of ingredients (many of them good for you) and usually tastes pretty darned good, too.
What's a Smoothie?
The smoothie probably originated somewhere in South America -- possibly Brazil -- during the 1930s. It used local tropical fruits blended with ice into a drink that was at once refreshing and easy to prepare. Fast forward to the 1940s, and the Waring Blender began making inroads into the residential market (from its beginnings in the medical devices industry) by devising tasty recipes that used blended ingredients. What better way to make blenders indispensable than to popularize the smoothie, a beverage using the blender's unique ability to pulverize, emulsify and otherwise grind ingredients. For the mom on the go, or kids parched from a hard day at school, what could be tastier than a quick, nutritious meal in a glass.
Refreshing Fruit Smoothies
Fruit smoothies typically use a mixture of crushed ice, fruit and other ingredients. The cold temperatures cause them to thicken quickly, and air whipped into the mix creates additional volume. The result is a drink with a dense consistency that doesn't require as much in the way of additional thickeners. Although the first smoothies were likely considered unique desserts and kids' fare, clever cooks began exploring the possibilities in the mid-1940s. The addition of a little alcohol resulted in a pretty tasty margarita, and even ingredients like nuts, raisins and raw eggs had their applications.
Fruit smoothies are summer menu items in many restaurants because these beverages are easy and inexpensive to produce and make excellent use of seasonal fruits. You may not like picking the seeds out of a bunch of grapes or munching around a huge peach pit, but add those fruits to a blender and you have summer in a glass.
The Basic Smoothie Recipe
The ingredients in smoothies do specific things to create a thick, creamy, flavorful, stable result. These are the basic components and ratios:
- 1 cup ice
- 2 cups fruit or vegetables
- 1 cup thickener
- 1 cup liquid (about)
- Sweetener to taste
You can easily concoct your own smoothie recipe using the recipe above as a guide:
- 1 cup ice cubes or crushed ice - If you have a commercial blender, cubed ice works great; if not, using crushed ice will probably prolong the life of your blender and make your smoothie faster and with less ear splitting noise. If you're using a frozen ingredient like frozen fruit, you can get away with using less ice or no ice at all. The idea here is to have a cold ingredient that will chill and help thicken the drink.
- 2 cups fruit - You can use fresh, frozen or canned fruit. You can mix the fruits or use a combination of fruits, vegetables or other ingredients.
- 1 cup thickener - A thickening agent will help integrate the ingredients in the smoothie and keep them from separating. You can use lots of different thickeners. Here are a few:
- Ice cream
- Yogurt (Greek yogurt is very popular these days)
- Peanut butter
- Buttermilk (very nice with bananas)
These are just a few suggestions. If the ingredient is tasty and has a gooey, thick consistency, it will probably work.
- 1 cup liquid - How much liquid you'll need will depend on the type of thickener you're using. That's why it's a good idea to add liquid toward the end of the process. Some good options are:
- Orange juice (or any fruit juice)
- Egg products (more on this in a second)
Add a little liquid at a time and blend until you achieve the desired consistency.
- Sweetener to taste - Often the combined ingredients will make a smoothie flavorful and sweet enough without added sugars, even for a child. If not, perform a taste test and add honey, sweetener or sugar as needed.
Specialty Smoothie Recipes
Smoothies are great summer refreshers, but they can be nutritious, too. The smoothie as health food has gained a lot of traction in recent years. Whether you're after a protein rich beverage or one high in antioxidants, smoothies fit the bill. They can incorporate lots of ingredients and still mask the flavor of one or two healthy but tart additions like:
- Brewer's yeast
- Protein powder
- Processed egg product (that is safer to eat than raw eggs)
- Goji berries
- Green tea
- Bee Products
Grab a blender and some ice this summer, and try your hand at making your own smoothie recipes. How about blending strawberries, bananas, milk and honey for a quick refresher on a Sunday afternoon? You'll never look at your blender the same way again.