A smoothie is essentially a blended fruit drink and is made using ice. You get the best results using crushed ice (from your icemaker, for example) rather than whole ice cubes in the blender a food blender, smoothies are thick unlike our shakes which are a liquid based drink. Smoothies have rocketed in popularity in the last 10 years and are now a common and regular part in the diets of millions of households. In this article we will look at the basics of how to make a smoothie.
Smoothies benefit us in a different way from juices because smoothies contain the whole fruit, not just the juice. This means that smoothies contain the fibrous matter of the fruit and as such are good sources for our required dietary intake of fibre. Fibre helps aid digestion.
In order for the smoothie to have a liquid like form that is drinkable (rather than chewable) the smoothie must have a liquid base. Common liquid bases include various fruit juices such as apple or pineapple juice. Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and ice cream can also be used as the smoothies liquid base. For those wishing to avoid dairy products there are alternatives such as Soy milk or Rice. You can also use water (prefereablly filtered or purified) as the liquid base.
Pour the liquid base into your blender jug and next add the fruit.
Feel free to use whatever fruits you feel like. Banana and strawberry smoothies are popular but you can use any combination of soft fruits that you have available (fruits of the forest anyone?). Some harder fruits such as apple will take longer to break down and may leave your smoothie lumpy so you may wish to juice these fruits and add the juice and/or pulp into the smoothie mixture.
If necessary peel the fruit (i.e. citrus fruits, bananas, mangoes etc) and then add the fruit at a steady rate whilst blending and blend until the mixture has a smooth consistency. You can also add ice into the smoothie mixture if you wish. Another alternative is to use frozen fruit, this helps to naturally chill the drink as well as giving the drink a thicker consistency.
Check the thickness of the smoothie and add more of the liquid base if necessary (this will depend on your own personal taste of how thick you like your drink to be). If the smoothie looks to thin then add more fruit or ice and this should thicken it up.
This is where most how to make a smoothie guides would end but there is great potential for adding a massive amount of extra healthy goodness into your smoothie. There are many extra food types that can be added to your smoothie to give you that extra lift, be it a power smoothie, energy smoothie, immune system boosting smoothie etc.
Pineapples don't ripen after they're picked, so make sure they are ripe in the shop before buying. To tell whether a Pineapple is ripe and ready for juicing lift it, squeeze it, and smell it. The fruit should be heavy, which means it's juicy; the skin should yield slightly to a gentle squeeze; and the aroma should be sweet.
Pineapple juice contains the enzyme bromelain. Bromelain is a natural digestive enzyme that also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Bromelain is found in highest concentrations in the rind of the pineapple, only juice the rind if you know the pineapple has been grown organically.
Pineapples used to be used to prevent scurvy in sailors who were passing through the tropics as pineapple juice is a good source of vitamin C.
Fruit juice is what the average person in the street thinks of when you ask them about drinking fresh juice. Juicing fruits (especially citrus fruits such as orange and grapefruit) has been a mainstream phenomenon for many years. Why is fruit juice more popular than vegetable juice? The answer lies in the taste, its absolutely delicious and there is nothing like a good dose of orange or grapefruit or pineapple juice in the morning to get your system up and running! Fruits on the whole tend to contain more sugar than vegetables and so fruit juices tend to be sweeter. Vegetable juice can in comparison taste less exciting although this is not always the case.
Some prefer to juice vegetables rather than fruit for a twist on the same reason – eating whole raw fruit is a lot easier and tastier than eating whole raw vegetables.
Some have put forward arguments for juicing vegetables rather than fruits on the fact that vegetables tend to be contain harder to break down fibres than fruits and as such the nutritional value of fruits is less ‘locked away’ than in vegetables. This argument suggests that it juicing is more beneficial to releasing vegetable nutrients than in releasing the nutritional value from fruits. However by juicing fruits we are not suggesting that you shouldn’t juice vegetables, in fact far from it, many juice recipes contain a combination of both fruit and vegetable ingredients.
Others argue that if we juice all our fresh fruits and vegetables then we will not take in enough fibre in our diet as fruit should be one of the main sources of fibre. A good fibre intake is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Eating fruit in it’s natural state to obtain a fibre intake is a valid argument but if our diet already contains whole fruit and veg and other sources of fibre then adding fruit juice to it is just an added bonus.
Another point related to the fibre content of fruit is the fact that the fibre content can help control the rate at which sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream. Because fruit juice tends to have a high sugar content it is important not to drink too much at once as there is no fibre in the juice to regulate the intake of the sugar into the bloodstream.
A good blender can be a valuable aid to your juice extractor when coming up with your own blends and power drinks. One common practice that many people already carry out is combining their fruit juice with other ‘non juicer friendly’ ingredients such as bananas or wheatgerm and blending them together to form ‘smoothies’. These types of smoothies have a fibre content that helps control the absorption of the fruit sugars into the bloodstream.
Certain fruits that have a relatively lower water content than juicer friendly fruits are less suitable for juicing but are suitable for blending with another source of liquid, examples of low water content / blender friendly fruits include:
Fruits with a high water content are a joy to juice – cantaloupe melon, water melon, citrus fruits such as Orange and Grapefruit, apples, pears, grapes… All these fruits taste great and a lot of people find it difficult drinking vegetable (especially green vegetable) juices without adding some kind of fresh fruit juice to ‘brighten up’ the taste. Apple juice is a firm favourite for improving the taste of a juice as so are Grapes. Citrus juice doesn’t tend to mix so well (in my opinion) with vegetable juices.