Smoothies – Getting Started


I think it’s appropriate that I approach this from a perspective of complete ignorance.  I’m going to capture what I do here as a bit of a guide for others who wish to follow the same path.  There will be mistakes on the way and learning to come from these

Analysis

My initial research shows that there is genuinely a massive sub-culture of juicing and smoothie advocates and fanatics.  Just to be clear, I’m not looking to radically change my diet, I’m not after a full detox, I’m not turning vegan and I’m not consuming smoothies at every opportunity.  I’ve set myself an initial goal – replace my breakfast with a healthy smoothie which will keep me going until lunchtime and will look to address certain dietary issues I may have (reduce  levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase levels of Omega 3, increase wholegrain & fibre consumption, reduce sugar intake, maintain a high level of vitamin & minerals)

Looking at a range of sites it’s clear to me that there are also a lot of pitfalls – there are plenty of recipes which may taste great but are just not healthy, in contrast there are clearly recipes for the ‘hard core’ which are probable really healthy but must taste shocking.  Neither of these are good outcomes for me and something I need to bare in mind.

Blender

I don’t have a blender so I’m going to need some new kit (yeah!!!).  Of course buying gadgets is often a matter of personal taste and budget.  I diligently complete my research and quickly home in on the ubiquitous NutriBullet as the way to go.  Widely available so a good price, with what appears to be unmatched ability to generate ‘professional’ quality smoothies in the home, I pick up one of the latest generation NutriBullet 1000 series, a Which? best buy.  It promotes ease of cleaning, rapid blending, a great consistent outcome from smart engine technology, a couple of cups including a very smart insulated brushed steel travel mug. I feel a review on this will be needed in due course to see how well it lives up to the hype, but for now that’s £99.  The older, smaller, less powerful but almost as highly rated NutriBullet 600 is also widely available for around £60 which would be a good alternative if price is an issue

Store Cupboard

The range of smoothie recipes is just astounding.  Where do you start?  It was clear that a large proportion of recipes can be covered with a range of ingredients.  This seems like really good news, as I can have variety without the need for lots of pre-planning.  The news gets better as I write down my ‘store cupboard’ list, as a lot of the ‘extras’ I already have in the cupboard for other purposes.  At last, it looks like I’ll I’ve got another outlet for that massive bag of flax seeds I use in bread making!  And that pot of chai seeds which were picked up in the sale when we couldn’t get hold of poppy seeds to sprinkle on will also have some use.  I draw up a list of items that I’ll consider either immediately or in a second tranche when I feel like the basics have been covered.  Its clear that the ingredients fall into 5 basic categories:-

Fresh Fruit & Veg – these will need replenishing on a regular basis but I see these as being quite dynamic, focusing on what’s available on the day and what is best value.  That said there will be some ‘must have’ items here.  It’s clear that there are opportunities to over-buy some of the items & freeze for the future

Frozen Fruit & Veg – As much as I’d like to but fresh raspberries every week, it’s just not a financially credible position.  There seems to be a great range of frozen fruit available and this should help to smooth out the seasonal supply & price variation

Liquids – Wow!  with the exception of yoghurts, I’ve never really come across any of these.  This is unknown territory that lactose intolerant people will no doubt be very familiar with, but I think that a lot of experimentation is called for.  Another post on this in due course, I think…

Sweeteners – No sugar or artificial sweeteners for me, the natural sweeteners are not things I’d normally choose. Several options available but I think I’ll stat with just a couple

‘Additives’  – This is where the smoothies get personal, and no doubt turn from something basic into something special (or something inedible…).  A whole range of extracts for added flavour, colour, texture, protein and nutrient value

My basic list looks like this:-

Fresh Fruit & Veg – subject to availability, flex week on week

  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Avocado
  • Lime – Got this already
  • Lemon – Got this already
  • Orange
  • Banana – Got this already
  • Melon (incl watermelon)
  • Peach/Apricot
  • Spinach
  • Beetroot- Seasonal from the garden,  Got this already
  • Chard? – Seasonal from the garden
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Kale? – Leave this for ‘Day 2’!
  • Cucumber
  • Root Ginger – Got this already
  • Herbs
  • Sweet Potato/Pumpkin – Got this already
  • Carrot

Frozen Fruit & Veg

  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries

Liquids

  • Almond Milk (unsweetened)
  • Coconut water
  • Coconut milk
  • Yoghurt (Greek?)
  • Coffee- Got this already
  • Green Tea- Leave this for ‘Day 2’!

Sweeteners

  • Honey – Got this already
  • Medjool Dates

Additives

  • Nut Butter (Almonds, Peanut) – Consider making my own?
  • Fresh coconut
  • Flax seeds – Got this already
  • Chai seeds – Got this already
  • Sesame seeds – Got this already
  • Pumpkin seeds – Got this already
  • Sunflower seeds – Got this already
  • Spirulina powder or other Green Protein – Leave this for ‘Day 2’!
  • Cacao, Cocoa nibs or Cocoa powder (unsweetened) – Got this already
  • Rolled Oats – Got this already
  • Tahini – Got this already
  • Vanilla Extract – Got this already
  • Cinnamon – Got this already
  • Turmeric – Got this already

Shopping

With a view of what I needed I headed off to the supermarket.  I didn’t see this as a typical shop as I need to do some experimenting as well as stocking up on some basics.   I’ve returned with different makes and qualities, fresh and frozen, ranges of fruit and veg, and the complete unknown aspect of smoothies – the liquids which are used.  I’ve picked up a range of stuff I’d planned for and some fresh stuff on offer and hope that this isn’t representative of a usual weekly smoothie shop!  A bag of kale was on offer – I really don’t think I’m ready for this yet but it will find a home elsewhere if I choose not to use it, and I’ve a couple of beaten up pomegranates.  Anything I don’t plan to use in the next 2 days I’ll prep and freeze…

Cost

One thing was apparent from the start, this isn’t going to as cheap as a bowl of cornflakes. Frozen fruit is cheaper than fresh and has other benefits in terms of storage and the possibility of pre-prepping daily recipes, but fresh fruit and veg all year round could get pricy if I’m after specific things and it’s clear that I’m going to have to take advantage of what’s available at the time and what is on offer in the shops.  Buying stuff that’s on offer, fruit & veg with short dates, prepping and freezing will be the way to go.  Liquids on the other hand are a different matter.  Some (such as almond milk) I could make myself and that will be an experiment for another day. Other I have no option but to buy.  There’s clearly a big cost differential between manufacturers and clearly multiple levels of quality which need to be explore here.  As part of my first few recipes I’m going to try and estimate the cost of the ingredients as well as their quality

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