Every morning for pretty much the last ten years, I’ve made a smoothie for breakfast. I first started making them because they seemed like a relatively painless way to get my daily allowance of fruit — fruit which, for whatever reason, I never seemed to get around to eating. But then I started to notice (imagine?) something: they made me feel good — or, at least, better than a big bagel or a plate of bacon and eggs. Jenny gradually became addicted, too, and the smoothie became our morning routine. The first thing she would do, upon wandering into the kitchen in her slippers on Saturday morning, was walk over to the blender on the counter and pour herself a big glass. Even when Phoebe was newly born, and Jenny was in the throes of maternity leave, the tradition marched on. Before leaving for work in the morning, I’d put a smoothie in the refrigerator, so she could have it when she woke up. As soon as Phoebe was old enough to try one, we got her hooked, too. Both our kids love smoothies now. They call them “fruit shakes” — as in, “Daddy! WHERE’S MY FRUIT SHAKE???” — and they have one almost every morning (along with their pancakes… or french toast… or challah with jam… or whatever other starchfest is is on the menu that day). They, unlike me, prefer theirs in a tiny cup. No, not the blue one, the pink one. With a bendy straw in it. The pink straw. Pink! No, light pink, not dark! Yes, daddy. Good. —Andy
Once you get into smoothie habit, you’ll want to keep it going, too. They also make good after school snacks.
The Morning Fruit Shake
First, a word on equipment: you’ll need a decent blender. Some oomph is crucial. When we first started making smoothies, we were saddled with a sad, 70s’-era Oster blender — the kind with pea green base and the plastic pitcher that had like two speeds and could barely crack an ice cube. We’ve since upgraded to a Cuisinart. Now, into that blender, put:
1 banana, broken into one-inch chunks. This adds some thickness and a nice, rich texture. It also helps fill you up (more on this below). A smoothie without a banana is no kind of smoothie.
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, not flavored, which is too sweet. (Lately, we’ve been using plain soy yogurt, as Jenny is on a “vegan before 6:00” kick, which I am going along with but also sort of wish would end soon.)
2 cups fresh fruit, whatever kind you want. The ones I have found work best: strawberries, mango, pineapple, blueberries, melon, peaches (when in season, no skin). The ones I have found that do not work: raspberries, blackberries, kiwi, apples, cherries. The one I still can’t decide on: watermelon.
Frozen fruit. We always have a bag of frozen pineapple chunks and wild blueberries from T Joe’s on hand. I find that frozen blueberries often taste better than the fresh ones, they’re cheaper, and they don’t go all moldy on you. They also provide that beautiful purple color, which just looks healthy.
1/2 cup or so orange juice
1 squeeze agave or honey. Because we’re using plain yogurt, some sweetness is necessary.
1 scoop protein powder. The problem with our shakes for the first few years was that they didn’t fill me up. By eleven in the morning, I was like a starving wolverine and only a bag of french onion Sun Chips could sate me. One scoop of vanilla protein powder (whey or soy, both from Trader Joe’s) fixes that. I’ve also used peanut butter, but that doesn’t go over so well around our house.
Three or four ice cubes. That’s all you need. Too much and it’s a slurpee.
Once you’re all loaded up, blend on the lowest speed for about ten seconds, until everything is somewhat integrated. Then, go to the highest level (on ours blender, it’s puree) for another ten seconds, blasting away until no chunks of ice or fruit remain.