A smoothie is a creamy textured drink, often used as a snack or afternoon pick-me-up. Because many or all of the ingredients in a smoothie are whole foods (e.g. fruits or vegetables), they are rich in nutrients and sometimes used as meal replacements; normally breakfast or lunch.
Smoothies are made by placing fruits and/or vegetables in a blender and mixing with a liquid base (fruit juice, water, tea or milk). Besides fruits or vegetables, ingredients like cottage cheese, nut butter, nuts, seeds, syrup, sugar or honey can be added for flavor, texture or nutritional value. If you need more protein in your diet, you could add a teaspoon of protein powder. Some people like to add herbal or nutritional supplements as well.
The final ingredient in a smoothie is ice. When made properly, the texture of your drink will resemble a thick slushy or a creamy milkshake. If you use frozen fruits in your smoothie, the amount of ice can be reduced or eliminated altogether.
Generally speaking, a smoothie is a healthy drink and preferred by health conscious folks over fruit juice or sodas. However, the ingredients in the smoothie are the final determiner of how healthy the drink actually is. The large amount of vegetables and fruits in the smoothie are what makes it healthy, but be careful of what you add to your smoothie recipes, once you’ve put in the fruits and/or vegetables.
Adding additional sugars (e.g. sugar, honey or agave nectar) to the drink can make it too sugary and not so healthy. Often times, protein powders, nutritional supplements and/or ice cream gets added to the recipe. Again, not so healthy. The closer you stick to all natural ingredients, the more healthy your smoothie will be.
The miracle ingredient in a smoothie is the fiber in the pulp, seeds, and skin in the fruits and vegetables that go into it. This fiber is what separates a smoothie from a fruit or vegetable juice and makes it more healthy. The fiber is also what gives the drink it’s milkshake consistency.
Green smoothies, made with vegetables, are loaded with fiber and are marketed as a super health drink. But some vegetables can be quite bitter. Choosing the right vegetables you use in the drink can help with this problem. Baby spinach, for example, is close to flavorless. You could also use fruit or bananas to dampen the bitterness. The secret ingredient in turning a bitter tasting smoothie into a palatable one is lemon. Simply add the juice from a freshly squeezed half or whole lemon to your smoothie and it turns a bitter drink into a pleasant one.
Green smoothies are so popular, some blender/mixer manufactures target green smoothie enthusiasts in particular, and offer a booklet full of recipes for just green smoothies.
Smoothies Around the World
Since the 1990’s, smoothies have steadily grown in popularity. A large part of this growth in popularity is from the emergence of commercial bottling plants that specialize in products like these. It’s not uncommon to find smoothies being displayed on the shelf in your local supermarket or other outlets. The history of smoothies depends on the country you are in. Some countries have a long history with smoothies than others.
Smoothies were first introduced in health food shops in the United States West Coast in the 1930’s. Electric blenders were the invention responsible for the introduction of this new drink. The term “smoothie”, commonly used in trademarks and recipes, was widely in use by then.
Ice cream shops and health food shops all over the country were widely promoting smoothies by the end of the 1960’s. Most smoothies at that time consisted of fruit juice, fruit and ice, however “fruit shakes”, created by adding ice milk, was becoming popular by the 1970’s.
A gentleman by the name of Steve Kuhnau started a company called Smoothie King in 1973. His smoothie bars made adding protein powders and vitamins to smoothies a popular concept.
As the smoothie idea grew and became more and more popular, big companies began bottling smoothies and marketing them to supermarkets.
Many different smoothie types are common in Indian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern countries.
Fruit sharbats (a South Asian and West Asian drink) normally are made with yogurt and honey.
The mango lassi, found in India, is a milkshake-like smoothie that is made with crushed ice pus sugar.
in South India, smoothies made with pineapple, sugar, and crushed ice are a more popular drink.
Cocktail smoothies can be created by mixing the smoothie with soft drinks or alcohol.
Making the Perfect Smoothie
A perfect smoothie is a perfect way to begin your day, or to get an energy boost during your afternoon break. Follow these tips and you will be enjoying your own perfect, nutritious and delicious smoothies on a regular basis.
Ratios – Liquids, Fruits, and Ice
Begin with two cups of a liquid, such as milk, almond milk, soy or yogurt. You could also use fruit juice, coconut milk or coconut water. In order to prevent blade damage to your blender, it is important to add the liquids first before adding the fruits or other ingredients.
Once the liquids are in the blender, begin adding three-fourths of a cup of fruit. Bananas are a great choice for a smoothie base. Bananas will give your smoothie a nice, creamy texture. Other fruits that go good in smoothies are peaches, nectarines, berries, apples, mangos, plums, pears, and melons. The two cups of liquid and three-fourths cup of fruit are approximations. Play with the ratios until you get the perfect ratio for you. There is no wrong way to do this. You are only limited by your own imagination when it comes to creating the perfect smoothie for you.
If your smoothie seems a little bland, you can spice it up with a dash of honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup to taste. Finally, add one half to three-fourths of a cup of ice, then blend at high speed to get a thick, frosty smoothie.
If you find yourself making smoothies once or twice a day, every day, you should consider freezing some fruits. Fruits retain the nutrition in them when frozen, plus they help to chill the smoothie. No need to add ice, or as much ice, when you incorporate frozen fruits in your smoothies.
Peel and slice bananas that are getting ripe and on the verge of turning brown. Place them on a parchment paper or baking sheet and put in your freezer until frozen. After freezing, store them in a freezer bag and keep them for your next smoothie. Melons and strawberries are other good fruits that freeze well for use in smoothies. You can also find many varieties of frozen fruits in the freezer section of your local supermarket. These freezer packs are generally a good value and make great ingredients for your smoothies.
Change It Up
Now that you’ve mastered a few different recipes, try adding your own special touch to the mix. For instance, try adding different tastes, like a dash of cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, or nutmeg before turning on the blender. Or add some texture by putting in a sprinkle of chopped nuts. flaxseed, chia seeds or whole oats. Not only does it add to the flavor, you will feel fuller as well.
Increase the Nutrition
Smoothies made from a mixture of vegetables and fruits are very flavorful. You will be surprised at how good a nutritious drink like this tastes. The sweet fruits blend with the vegetables and make a delicious smoothie that is packed full of nutrition.
Try a delicious green detox smoothie made with spinach, banana, kiwi, apple and coconut water. Other vegetables that make nutritious additions to smoothies are avocados, tomatoes, kale, and beets.
If you are having a smoothie as a meal replacement for breakfast or lunch, try adding some peanuts, protein powder, tofu or nut butter to your basic recipe. These make good additions to your smoothies, especially if you are looking for a protein boost.