Thursday, 26 January 2012

Smoothical the Musical

If you have a blender, you can turn many solid food items into liquid with the push of a button. This is especially helpful for people who survive dental work, as well as those who like smoothies. Why pay five whole dollars (not to mention gas in the car, time spent travelling, and other related costs) for something you can make easily in your own home, given the proper tool?

And, I should mention, we were given the proper tool. Someone gifted us with a blender at some point, and now we have one. Made by Black & Decker. It's a power tool for the kitchen. (Insert Tim Taylor dog bark here.) Certainly buy one if you think you'll get lots of use out of one; they're not that expensive. But, if they just sit on the counter or in a cabinet, longing for the touch of a human hand... might not be worth it.

As with my last post, my venture into Smoothie-land was prompted by an episode of Good Eats. My recipe differs in a few regards. For one, Alton Brown's smoothie is 24 ounces. That's a pound and a half, which is fine if it's the only thing you'll eat for lunch and maybe part of dinner.1 But if you want a smoothie and maybe a little bite of something else for lunch (say, half a sandwich), then you'll need less smoothie. My smoothie tends to be about 12 to 16 ounces. Therefore, it also fits conveniently in a pint glass (pint = pound = 16 ounces), making me feel a little manlier about the whole thing.

Alton Brown recommends assembling everything the night before, storing in the fridge. I find this is unnecessary, as I often don't think this far ahead when I want a smoothie. Also, this is not, to my knowledge, a useful step when using fresh fruit. Therefore, I offer this alternative. (By the way, this takes, like, a minute to make. Maybe two, max.)

Homemade Smoothie

It begins.
Use a kitchen scale to weigh out 8 oz. of frozen or fresh fruit. (Pick a combination you like. My favorite is pineapple, mango, strawberry, and blueberry. Incidentally, if you don't have a scale, I find that ½ c. of blueberries is about 2 oz., and 1 c. of mixed fruit in chunks is about 6 oz.) Put that in the carafe of a blender along with half a banana, ¼ c. "dark juice" (AB suggests açai, grape, or pomegranate; I've also used cranberry, blueberry, and juice blends2), and ¼ c. plain yogurt (or milk or soy milk or any dairy or dairy substitute; this is to raise the protein content). Start blending on the lowest setting. If you find it's not blending well, add more dark juice (up to ½ c.) until it does. When it looks like things are going well, a whirlpool will form in the middle. Ramp up the speed, taking care not to lose the whirlpool. (If you do, stop the blender, let it "burp," then go from low speed again.) When you reach high speed (aptly titled "smoothie" on my blender), let it blend for 30 seconds to a minute. Pour into a pint glass, stick a straw in, and suck it up. But take your time; smoothies are meant for enjoying.

"Whirlpool" stage.
You can definitely double the recipe to make two at once, to share with that special lunch date in your life. I don't recommend sticking it in the fridge and saving it for later; it gets... weird.

1 Nobody really thinks about how big a beverage is and how much it contributes to caloric intake. Look, for example, at soda fountain soft drinks at convenience stores and fast-food joints, the largest sizes being around, what, 48 ounces? That's three whole pounds! It might be mostly water, but those other calories are nothing but sugar. At least with a smoothie there's the promise of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. But a smoothie, while a beverage, is still also a food, and needs to be taken into account. Think about that next time you visit the neighborhood smoothie spot.

2 I always try to get 100% no sugar added juice. When I want a drink, I water it down with a generous dose of club soda and some ice. No sense in paying someone else to water down juice for me.

Title inspiration: Seussical is a musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, based on various books by Dr. Seuss, most notably Horton Hears a Who. Premiered at the Colonial Theatre in Boston in September 2000.

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