Especially come summer, smoothies are a big hit in my home. I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater except on weekends, so smoothies are a great way to introduce a full serving of fruits and vegetables into my morning routine. It’s something I whip up rather quickly and enjoy on my commute to work. For our kids, smoothies not only serve as a great meal replacement or enhancer, but also in lieu of less healthy treats like milkshakes and malts. They can help choose what goes in them and they get a satisfying and healthy treat.
History of Smoothies
Since the evolution of the blender, smoothies have been a regular staple in American culture. Despite originally being developed in Brazil, health food stores on the west coast began selling fruit purees back in the 1930s to the health conscious west coast hipster and by the 1940s, the term ‘smoothie’ was coined when the Waring Corporation developed the first commercially sold electric blender and gave away milk smoothie recipe books with each purchase. Soon, the smoothie took flight and continued to become ever more popular soon reaching a global demographic of both healthy consumers and those with minimal time for a nutritious breakfast. By the 1950s, ice cream parlors began to notice the trend and started offering a healthier alternative to their malts and milkshakes with a similar consistency. As the 70s rolled in, with a bloom in weightlifting on the west coast, athletes and bodybuilders began to reconstruct the smoothie turning it into a protein and health shake by adding supplements that they believed helped increase their energy and their strength. For many, the smoothie became a daily ritual like coffee and breakfast was a smoothie concocted of fresh fruits, yogurt, ice or other ingredients.
Popular Ingredients for Smoothies
There is really no limit to what you can put in a smoothie. Traditionally, a smoothie is classified as a fruit or vegetable based puree with the consistency of a milkshake, but aside from adding the standards, you can get quite creative with what you put in it. Here’s some of the more popular items worth trying:
Tea (such as green tea)
Seeds and Nuts
What Blender Should You Buy?
When it comes to purchasing a blender there are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind. First, buy it from a reputable brand name and not one of those no-name companies you’ve never heard of. Not only will you end up with a better quality machine, but in the event of an issue the warranty will probably be more reliable. Remember: a lifetime warranty is only good for the lifetime of the company.
Next you’ll want to look for a blender with at LEAST 500 watts. Ideally you want more and often with a blender you get what you pay for. The Vitamix listed below is almost $1000 but it’s the Rolls Royce of blenders and will last a considerably long time giving you consistently fantastic results.
You’re also going to want a blender with a thick glass pitcher over plastic. Of course, blenders like the Magic Bullet come with plastic but make sure that they’re easily washable and able to accommodate hot ingredients. Glass pitchers have less of a tendency to scratch, are easier to clean and offer you greater flexibility when making hot items like soup.
Try and find blenders that are easy to clean. Many blenders are a headache but the other half are so simple to clean up it makes cooking with them a breeze. Most people only consider the pitcher and blades when it comes to cleaning but regardless of how experienced you are at blending, there will probably come a time that you’ll cause some kind of catastrophe and get the base wet or dirty as well. That’s why you should always look at the buttons on the base. Blenders with knobs and push buttons are more difficult to clean than ones with touch screens or flat buttons that have no indentation. This way you won’t end up with milk inside the crevices which will soon be foul and sour. Here’s a list of some blenders worthy of your consideration at all price levels:
Vitamix 750 – Approx. $750
The king of blenders is the Vitamin 750, although almost all of the Vitamix blenders are renowned for their superior quality. It’s the choice of professional chefs and if budget isn’t tight, the one we suggest you get. It’s professional quality and if you blend daily you won’t have to worry about replacing it each year with a newer model. It’s a workhorse and one of the few blenders that will perfectly blend seeds and nuts without grit. For a less expensive option, consider the Vitamix 5200 series. Click here to get your Vitamix today.
Magic Bullet – Approx. $45
I was always very hesitant to buy anything ‘As Seen on TV’ but when my sister bought one for her apartment I was quite impressed. The Magic Bullet isn’t the best blender out there but it will easily crush ice or frozen fruits. We use it primarily to puree homemade baby food for our youngest son Jake. However, where it really shines is for those with smaller kitchens or people who live alone and are blending for one. If counter space is limited, the Magic Bullet is one blender you won’t have to worry about taking up extra space. In fact, I would say we probably use our Magic Bullet far more often than our full-size blender. The neatest part is that the individual blending jars it comes with have handles that attach which makes it easy to use them as a glass saving you time on doing the dishes. It’s easy clean up and ours has lasted now for more then two years. The video below might look ridiculous, but everything they claim has worked in ours. Click here to buy one today.
Blendtec Designer Series WildSide – Approx. $400
If you’re looking for something that isn’t from Vitamix but still want a professional blender, the Blendtec Wildside is probably a safe bet. At just $400, it’s a reasonably priced kitchen tool that blends as well as any chef could ask for. It’s consistent, easy to clean and is often the blender that your soup or puree comes from when you order it in a fine dining restaurant. Click here to get one today.
Black + Decker FusionBlade Blender – Approx. $55
The flat buttons make this an easy clean blender at a very respectable price. I haven’t personally tried this blender but the online reviews are good (for the price). As far as blending smoothies goes, this is one blender I probably wouldn’t add seeds in unless you enjoy a bit of grit. For the price, you really can’t go wrong. Click here to get one.
Kitchen Aid 5-Speed Diamond Blender – Approx. $150
Kitchen Aid products are often considered very commercialized and in most cases they’re not the best on the market, but not the worst either. This particular blender is a fairly good workhorse offering 5 speeds that work feverishly to blend and puree your favorite smoothies. This blender will get the seeds, but it might take a bit longer than the Vitamix. Click here to get one.
Breville Hemisphere Control Blender – Approx. $200
Personally, I really enjoy Breville products. My panini press which I use a lot is a Breville and it’s fantastic. This blender is no exception. It’s all things considered an excellent blender for the price and one that easily works smoothies to a perfect consistency. Just be prepared that with any blender that’s sub-$400 you really need to make sure you properly layer your ingredients. Click here to get this blender.
How to Blend Your Smoothie
This might seem a little ridiculous. One would assume that you could just throw all your ingredients into the blender and hit the power button. Watch it for a few moments until it hits the right consistency and BAM you’re done. Not quite…
Unless you’ve spent the extra money and bought a Vitamix, you’re going to have to be pretty careful how you layer your ingredients. It comes down to the quality of blades in the blender as well as the motor. A 500 watt blender is going to have a more difficult time blending a smoothie than one that’s 1500 watts. Keep wattage in mind when purchasing a blender. For any blender thats motor is under 1000 watts, make sure you layer your ingredients as follows:
First, place the liquids in the bottom. This allows the blades to spin faster and with less resistance which helps moves the ingredients down faster and more consistently.
Once the liquids are in, add any powders you plan to use be it a whey protein powder or even just cocoa powder. If you place them on top they might spray up and stick to the lid and sides which will either make a mess or give you a powdery and gritty smoothie.
The next step is to add your soft fruits and foods. This includes fruit like bananas which are easily pureed by even the least powerful blender.
Following that you can begin adding any harder foods such as frozen fruits, ginger, beets carrots, dried fruits like cranberries and any seeds or nuts. If you are using hard ingredients, it’s wise to soak them for awhile first to soften them up and chop them into smaller pieces. I actually recommend even grating them first to give your blender a chance to really puree them well. Not only will this help your blender work more effortlessly, but it will also ensure a more consistent texture.
Finally you’ll add ice. The ice helps to push the other ingredients down and will help to moisten the pureed ingredients as it’s blended.
Once the ingredients have been put into the blender, secure the lid and start the blender on the slowest setting. Many people will simply put the blender to the highest setting but that wears down the motor and can cause the food to spray. It’s also a good way to overheat your motor and dull your blades. By starting slow you can increase the speed until the smoothie is at its perfect texture – about the same consistency as the kind of milkshake you’d get at a 1950’s diner or malt shop.
The Smoothie Recipe Book by Mendocino Press
With 150 smoothie recipes, this bestseller is a recipe book aimed at helping you cleanse and lose weight. It has easy to follow instructions that even a child can follow. Click here to get your copy.
Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris
Superfoods are one way to really enhance your healthy lifestyle and add energy to your day. With 100 recipes in this book, all of them are focused on superfood-rich smoothies that can easily be made at home with a basic blender. All of the recipes are healthy, but there are few that might not be everyones style. Overall, it’s a great resource if being healthy is important to you. Click here to buy it.
Green Smoothie Recipes For Weight Loss and Detox by Jenny Allan
If weight loss is the goal, this short primer on green smoothie recipes is an excellent source for the aspiring athlete. Just be prepared that some of the smoothies in this book taste about as ‘good’ as they look. Click here for your copy.
Smoothies are some of the easiest meal replacements and snacks to make at home. They take minutes to concoct and can be done with your imagination over a recipe. One of the standby smoothie recipes at our house is just three ingredients: strawberries, bananas, vanilla frozen yogurt. Of course, we’re constantly making new variations with a touch of cinnamon here or a splash of almond milk there. If you’re looking for a healthy and energy-fuelled treat, look no further than a smoothie. What are your favorite kinds of smoothies and what blender do you use at home?