It has been so hot this summer that everything we drink, even water, we buzz with ice in our super duper VitaMix. We’ve been far more experimental, especially with bases. We don’t just reach for cow’s milk or even almond milk, we use apple juice, grape juice, lemonade, or anything liquid in the refrigerator. The key ingredient is ICE.
I have found that my kids are less hungry when it is terribly hot. They drink plenty of water during the day, but it’s difficult to get enough nutritious food into them. Before they reach for chips or crackers for an afternoon snack, I offer smoothies. This is part of our afternoon routine.
Our basic smoothie is the same as my mother made for me since she started doing yoga in the early 1970s: banana, milk, pumpkin pie spices, and ice. Since half of the family can’t drink cow’s milk, we use almond or soy milk. This is easy and always tasty.
Our newest favorite is strawberry lemonade. We like sour drinks, so the strawberries alone make it sweet enough for us, but you could add grapes, honey, or some other sweetener. We buzz the ice, water, and lemon first then add the fresh strawberries toward the end so the strawberries stay a little bit chunky. The ice clumps together if you don’t add any fruit at all. Think of it as a good excuse to add a few nutritious ingredients.
More smoothie lessons learned
- Avoid broccoli and watermelon. Broccoli makes the drink taste bitter, and watermelon ruins everything—or so my kids have said. I think watermelon is one of those tastes that just doesn’t fit with others so well. After seeing sad, melting glasses of watermelon smoothie go undrunk, I believe them.
- Add herbs and spices. Cinnamon, cardamon, allspice, and other warm spices go very well with banana smoothies. Fresh mint leaves go well with a light, not too sweet flavors like cucumber, yogurt, and green apple. I love pulling herbs directly from my garden and using them.
- Freeze the fruit first. Berries work especially well frozen, but I have had no luck at all with frozen bananas. If the fruit is frozen already, you need less ice to make the drink cold. A drink made with frozen fruit is thicker and heavier. It depends what you want. Sometimes light is more refreshing.
- Add black strap molasses if you want a little bit of sweetness with a punch of nutrition. Molasses is left after most of the sugar is extracted from sugar cane. The sweetness comes from the sugar that is left, but the you are also left with higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals.
- Disguise the vegetables. Though my kids don’t object to vegetables the way some do, they don’t love vegetable juice. A little bit of avocado or carrot is easy to add to a smoothie without the result of turned-up noses, but a lot can mean that kids are less eager to drink. Just choose your vegetables carefully.