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How to make Smoothies

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  Equipment  |  Ingredients  | Preparation | Making and drinking your smoothieSmoothie Recipes

 

Smoothies can be made with a wide variety of fresh, frozen or tinned fruit or fresh raw vegetables, which means not only you can take advantage of low prices when fresh produce is in season but also have a delicious smoothie from frozen or tinned fruit both of which retain all much of their nutrients, at other times of the year.

There are 3 basic elements needed to make a smoothie :-

Fibre – in the form of fruit or vegetables
Base – most often in the form of a liquid
Frozen – in the form of  items such as ice

Below is detailed information about all three components under the 'ingredients' heading but so long as you remember your " F B F " you won't go too far wrong.


Equipment for Smoothies


Whilst you can buy a smoothie maker, these are usually just blenders with a tap, so if you already have a blender or liquidiser, unless very old, it will suffice.

 

When using soft fruit or vegetables, the hand-held blenders are perfectly adequate for smaller quantities.

 

The only other necessity in most cases is a knife to peel and/or cut up the ingredients.
 

Standard Liquidiser

Smoothie Maker

Handheld Blender

 

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Ingredients for Smoothies
 

FIBRE - Fruit and Vegetables (Fibre)
The main ingredients of smoothies are usually fresh, frozen or tinned fruit or fresh raw vegetables. If you like eating it normally, then you can use it in a smoothie.

BASE
In order to make the mixture more drinkable and less pulpy, additional liquid or soft substances are usually used as a base such as:-

Fruit Juice
Coconut Milk
Water
Milk
Soy or Rice Milk
Yoghurt
Ice Cream (See also "Cold (frozen items)"
Sorbets (See also "Cold (frozen items)"

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The last 3 items have the added advantage of creating a smoother thicker texture after blending, much like a milkshake, with ice cream and sorbets doubling up as the "frozen" element.

You can use any flavour of yoghurt, ice cream, sorbets or milk depending on the recipe and your personal taste, and full or low fat products. The only restrictions are those you set for yourself. Just remember, smoothies are not only made for nutritional purposes, they are also to be enjoyed: unless you have specific medical problems, it’s better to have a few extra calories in the form of sweetener or dairy products along with the fruit, than no fruit at all because it's too sharp.

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FROZEN

In order to get the right thickness and texture a frozen element is generally required.  This can be added in various forms:-

 

Ice  Often crushed or cracked ice cubes are used however these can sometimes lessen the flavour so using flavoured frozen cubes is a good alternative. See below under ‘preparation’ for detailed information. 
 

Frozen fruit retains its vitamins and, unlike in other recipes, the softening of tissues and subsequent loss of structure of fruit such as strawberries doesn’t detract from the finished article so it is just as good to use them. Also, the ice content in the fruit acts as a thickener once blended making the addition of extra ice unnecessary.

 

Although you can buy frozen fruit, quite often these have added sugar or syrup so why not freeze your own. The benefits of this include:-

(a) freezing one-portion amounts for ease and speed of use
(b) only adding as much sugar or other sweetener as you want
(c) taking advantage of low shop prices when the fruit is in season

 

Ice Cream /Sorbets
Any type of ice cream or sorbet can be used - full fat or low fat, single or duplex flavoured, smooth or containing ripples, nuts or other additions.

 

 


Other ingredients
Sweeteners such as honey, sugar or maple syrup can be added to enhance the overall flavour, especially when the fruit used isn’t sweet – unfortunately a common occurrence with the forcing of so many fruit today.

Flavourings. Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavourings such as cinnamon, nutmeg or other sweet spices.

Seasonings. When using vegetables, a more savoury result can be obtained by using seasonings such as pepper, salt, chilli, pepper sauce garlic salt etc.

Alcohol. Adult smoothies can be made with the addition of small amounts of alcohol – think Bloody Mary – tomatoes, vodka, Worcestershire sauce …. preferably not for breakfast. A novel idea is to make small ‘shot glass’ portions as an appetiser before dinner.

Textured smoothies can be made with added ingredients such as oats, muesli, wheat germ, bran, flax seeds, honey, wheatgrass powder or other nutrient mixes to give an extra boost, especially for breakfast.  Ground nuts or peanut butter can also be used for extra protein and flavour.

 

 

Preparing Smoothies


Fruit and Vegetables

Always wash fruit or vegetables before using. To avoid lumpy bits in your smoothie, fruit or vegetables should be cut up into manageable pieces.

Pay particular attention to hard ingredients such as apples and carrots and if using these in conjunction with softer ingredients, cut them up slightly smaller and put them in the blender first, adding the softer items shortly afterwards. It doesn’t take too much more time, perhaps a few seconds, but it can make a significant difference to the overall finished texture.

The question of whether to peel or remove seeds is answered very simply. If you would normally eat the skin or seeds then add them to the smoothie. So, for example, most of us wouldn’t eat the skin of a kiwifruit or the seeds of an orange but we would eat the skin of an apple and the seeds of a passion fruit.

Base
Where possible, chill the base liquid before using in smoothies.  If you're not sure how thick you like your smoothie, don't add all the recommended base. You can always add more at the end and give it a final short whiz to incorporate.

 

Ice
Never add whole ice cubes, especially when using a normal household blender. Either crack or crush ice before adding to the blender. A quick way of cracking ice cubes is to put them in a plastic food bag, place on a solid surface and bash with a mallet, hammer or wooden rolling pin. 

 

A good alternative to plain ice is to freeze quantities of base liquids in ice cube trays in advance,  which will not only remove the need to use crushed ice, but will also return a truer flavour in the finished smoothie. Fruit juices, milk and coconut milk can all be treated in this way. Simply substitute the required amount of ice with the same amount of frozen base.
 

 

Making and drinking your smoothie
 

Once you’ve prepared the ingredients as above, place the base (liquid, ice cream etc ) into your blender then add the fruit or vegetables (remember harder items first if using) and pulse blend a few times.

Once it’s broken down a little, add the ice and start blending on a low speed, increasing to high until smooth. The whole blending process should only take less than a minute in most instances.

 


There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the thickness of smoothies: it’s all down to personal preference. If the mixture seems too thick, add more of the base ingredient or even a little water. Alternatively, if it seems too thin, either add more fruit or ice which will thicken it up once re-blended.

It’s best to drink the smoothie straight away for maximum health benefits. However, if you have made too much, you can freeze what’s left, but make sure you leave headspace in the container as the mixture will expand a little during the freezing process. Frozen smoothies should be removed from the freezer about an hour before drinking.

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