- sprinkled on to breakfast cereal
- in a steaming hot crumble with custard
- scattered through salads
- au naturel, with a dollop of yogurt and few chopped nuts
- whizzed up into delicious smoothies
The most fun has to be the smoothie; perfect for indulging your creative side while fitting in a couple of those five-a-day fruit and vegetable portions.
Smoothies versus Juices
We have a decent juicer and also one of those multi-purpose blender kits that include a tall, open-topped beaker specifically intended for making smoothies. Using the juicer involves discarding large quantities of fruit pulp and takes around fifteen minutes fiddly cleaning after use. The blender keeps all of that fruity goodness (including the parts that contain the fibre), takes two minutes to fling together and all of the messy parts can be slung straight into the dishwasher. Juice is high enough in natural sugar and acid to give your teeth a hard time; a yogurt-based smoothie contains calcium to temper the tooth eroding effect. For me the blended smoothie wins hands down for convenience and health.
According to wikipedia, a “smoothie is a blended, chilled, sweet beverage made from fresh fruit. In addition to fruit, many smoothies include crushed ice, frozen fruit, or frozen yogurt”. I just never make a smoothie without yogurt, or at least a splash of milk. Here’s why; if, like me, you are not a big milk drinker then managing 700mg of calcium every day is a big job. And if you are a teenager or breastfeeding then your body needs even more calcium than this. Not all of your dairy needs to be from calcium by any means, but even so, fitting in 700mg every day can feel a bit daunting. Not to mention monotonous; it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of a glass of milk, pot of fruit yogurt and cheese sandwich. Adding a few tablespoons of yogurt into a smoothie is an easy way to variety to how you consume this quarter of your day’s calcium. Thick, luscious yogurt also seems to become a bit less of a necessity when it is all blended up with summer fruits – plain (no added sugar), low fat yogurt works is perfectly OK in a smoothie.
Soy yogurt is just fine
Some people prefer soy yogurt and soy milk for ethical reasons and a few specific nutritional benefits (including being lower in saturated fat than cow’s milk yogurt). These work just fine as a smoothie ingredient, but if you are looking out for your bones then make sure that you read the label carefully. In many countries (including the UK) organic products are not allowed to be fortified with additional vitamins and minerals.
Because soy beans are not naturally high in calcium, unfortified organic soy milk and soy yogurts are not a good source of calcium.
(My yogurt eating alternates between calcium-fortified soy yogurt and naturally high in calcium organic natural yogurt.)
Any fruit will do
Most fruits can be smoothied. Berries, stone fruits and soft tropical fruits work best; slightly harder, thick skinned fruits like apples and pears are better peeled and lightly cooked to form a compote, like these low sugar apple and plum freezer compotes.
A smoothie can be both seasonal and frugal. In the winter frozen berries work a treat and there is no reason not to use canned fruit; just go for a fruit tinned in its own juices rather than sugar syrup.
Watch your portion size
Because a smoothie is in liquid form (how many calories can there be in a drink?) and is full of healthy ingredients, its easy to go overboard. Two portions of fruit (just under 200g or 7oz of fruit) and a small pot of yogurt (about three tablespoons) is plenty for one person. If you make too much, just put it in your fridge in a lidded container for later.
Back soon with a luscious summer smoothie recipe and tips for clever flavourings.
Recipe for Strawberry shortcake smoothie
The simplest of yogurt smoothie recipes. The vanilla extract gives welcome boost if you discover that your strawberries aren't the best of the season; for a really luxurious touch use top quality strawberries and a fresh vanilla bean.
1 cup (250g) of natural yogurt or soy yogurt
2 cups of fresh strawberries
1 tsp honey
Half a tsp vanilla extract
A splash of milk or orange juice
Get the strawberries out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to make your smoothie (you will get much more flavour from the fruit by letting it come up to room temperature).
When you are ready to serve, place all of the ingredients into your blender receptacle of choice and blitz until smooth. Use a dash of milk or orange juice if you want to adjust the consistency.