W hen my niece Sasha comes over, she heads for the raspberry
patch. When her pile is big enough, we make the world's
Can this be true? The world's best smoothie? That's
a mighty tall order indeed. I think of the tropical countries
I've visited and their myriad blended offerings of fruit
with ice, juice, alcohol and milk. How could Sasha and
I compete with the smoothie makers of Cartagena, Colombia,
and their overwhelming diversity of jungle fruits, all
washed and stored separately in a circle of glass jars
around the blender? And there is Brazil, where suco (juice)
means fruit pulp blended with ice before serving, and vitamina means "smoothie
with milk." Brazil is also home to the ababatida ,
an unexpectedly delicious concoction that I will describe
Alas, smoothies are at once so simple and so full of
possibilities that there can't really be any such thing
as the world's best smoothie. It's the context, as much
as the ingredients, that really makes it. And in the
context of a hot summer day, the world's best smoothie
might be the one you are drinking.
The first thing Sasha and I do is crush ice in the blender.
We add honey to the ice to help suck the cubes into the
whirling blades, and for sweetener. When the honey slush
is prepared, we add the raspberries and lime juice and
blend that smoothie home. Without the lime, there is
no way that this is the world's best smoothie, because
with raspberry, as well as with many other fruits, including
melon, lime brings out the flavor. That's super-secret
smoothie trick #1.
Along the same lines, smoothie researchers have discovered
many more fruit combinations that are worthy of note,
including apple/grape, cranberry/lemon, orange/mango
and apple/watercress(!), with many more yet to be discovered.
And there are extra-fancy ways of preparing such combinations.
For example, now that apricots are in season, try soaking
some ripe ones overnight in orange juice and smoothing
them for breakfast.
Then there's trick #2, which, in direct contradiction
to what Sasha and I do, is to skip the ice altogether
and freeze the fruit. Admittedly, this kills the spontaneity
of rushing into the kitchen with the still-quivering
berries and whizzing it up. But on the other hand, substituting
frozen fruit for ice makes a thicker smoothie - if that's
what you want. Personally, I like my smoothies thick
in the morning and thin during the heat of the day for
more thirst-quenching action. One bit of advice: If you
freeze bananas, peel them first; frozen bananas don't
easily shed their peels.
Other ways to thicken smoothies involve the addition
of milk or milk-like products, such as yogurt, soy milk
(or rice milk, or almond milk, or oat milk 85) and, for
a completely over-the-top decadence experience, use coconut
To make it thicker still, you can add peanut butter
or tahini for nutty thickness, or wheat germ, whole oats
or granola for fiber. Whatever you do, be sure to wash
the blender as soon as you are finished. Don't wait around
for the remains of your smoothie to weld themselves onto
your poor blender-that's trick #3.
Speaking of blenders, Oster, Vita-mix and Cuisinart
brands all receive high marks from the likes of Consumer
Reports and Cook's Illustrated . Then there's my buddy,
Exhibit Abe. He monitors the progress of the summer by
buying a weekly bag of huckleberries at the Farmer's
Market. He blends these with vanilla ice cream in his
two-horsepower, gas-guzzling unit called the Tailgator,
a modified weed whacker with a blender attachment. (You
can find the Tailgator at www.totallygross.com.) Exhibit
Abe claims he can taste the maturation of the huckleberry
crop through his weekly smoothie.
Then there is that favorite of Indian restaurant patrons,
the mango lassi. Cut one mango into the blender. Blend
in the juice of a whole lime (and some lime zest, if
you really want to put Martha to shame). Add yogurt and
sugar to taste, and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Blend
Finally, here is your mind-expanding smoothie combination
for the week, brought to you from the Ver o
Peso market in Belem, Brazil: the afore-promised ababatida .
Like the mango lassi, it will never be truly in season
in our northern latitudes. But thanks to global trade,
we can all give the ababatida a whirl. It's
a simple smoothie of avocado, milk and sugar. And like
all smoothies, the parameters of the ababatida are
loose. Soy milk or yogurt can work in place of milk.
Honey works instead of sugar, etc. A0
If you've never tried this combination, shut up - because
it really works. Those three simple ingredients, in the
presence of a blender, add up to a smoothie that is nothing
short of divine. No, really. If you haven't tried it
yet, I don't have time for your ignorant protests. Give
it a shot, and then shoot me an e-mail.