It’s time for another cooking video! This time I’ve enlisted the help of a certain clay dinosaur, who my husband has been animating via claymation since he was a boy with a Super 8 camera. Over the years Gulp has had many adventures and swallowed many Lego blocks and Matchbox cars, but this is his first introduction to the joys of green smoothies and my Cashew Kale Shake. (Eating cars may be one way to get your iron, but iron-rich kale is a heck of a lot easier on the teeth.) With the help of my favorite hungry dinosaur, I demonstrate how easy it is to make your green smoothie dreams come true, even if you don’t have a high-speed blender.
Smoothies are such a delicious and simple way of incorporating more fruits and vegetables into a person’s diet. I often enjoy them for breakfast, and it makes me feel good to kick start the day knowing that I’ve already had several servings of raw fruits and vegetables. It sets a great tone and gives me a hit of wide-awake energy. Hit a lull around 3 pm? A smoothie also makes a tasty snack.
These are my top tips for taking a smoothie from good to great:
Frozen bananas are key. First of all, bananas bring a pleasant mellowness to smoothies that otherwise might be overly sweet (like a tropical, orange, or berry smoothie) or bitter (like a smoothie with kale or collard greens). Most importantly, frozen bananas give a thick, creamy texture that leans more towards a shake than a smoothie.
Always add ground flax seed. It seems that every other article on health and wellness pages is about how the modern American diet is overloaded with omega 6’s while deficient on omega 3’s, creating an unhealthy imbalance. An easy way to get omega 3’s into one’s diet is by adding a tablespoon of ground flax seed to a smoothie. Outside of a vague nuttiness, it doesn’t add a lot in terms of flavor, but it gives the smoothie a fuller viscosity. I like to grind whole flax seed in a coffee grinder as needed, but you could also use ground flax seed. You’ll want to keep the open package in the freezer or refrigerator to avoid rancidity. (Want to add raw cashews for a creamier smoothie? While you’re grinding the flax seed, add in raw cashews as well and grind until they take on the consistency of flour.)
Blend tough greens first. I almost never make a smoothie without greens. It just seems like a wasted opportunity. But without a high-speed blender, getting greens fully blended can be difficult. The key to completely smooth green smoothies is blending hearty, fibrous greens first. A bright green drink can already be a difficult sell to the uninitiated. Add in chewy bits of tough kale and it’s even more of an obstacle.
Blend the greens with whatever liquid you’ll be using and continue until completely smooth before adding other ingredients. The blender will probably need a hand with it, and so be sure to stop and scrape down the sides regularly to move the process along. (Secret tip: The circular handle on the lid of my non-high speed blender can be removed, leaving a small hole, and I sometimes stir the top portion of the greens while the blender is in motion. It helps the momentum of the greens. Of course, it’s important to be careful that the spoon doesn’t come into contact with the blade, and it could be a splatter hazard if the liquid is too high.)
Vanilla soymilk adds dimension and balance. For a long time I only used water in my smoothies. With all of the nutrition and taste in the fruits and vegetables in the ingredient list, I didn’t think it needed anything else. However, my feelings on this have changed. A hint of vanilla in the background adds something special to a smoothie. Now when I make it without, it doesn’t quite reach the same heights.
But don’t use too much. Err on the side of less liquid for a thicker, creamier shake. If you absolutely have to add more for blending, add a little at a time.
Ice cubes are your friend. After a smoothie has reached its creamy and whippy perfection, I like to add six ice cubes and blend until fully broken down. Without the cubes, it’s more like a shake or a malt, but with the ice cubes it’s all that with pleasant icy shards and a little added crunch.