Smoothies are a great way of ensuring you get enough of your 5 a day as far as your daily fruit is concerned. Otherwise, for me at least, it would be a hell of an effort to munch my way through what I get to stick in the blitzer each morning for our smoothies.
We have our smoothies after our first drink of the day which is a large cup of fresh coffee each. It is me who usually gets to make the smoothies, in fact I usually get to make the coffees as well. Since being made redundant in July 2016 after we pulled the plug on Wise Words, the small book distribution company I helped to run and was co-director of, and having not as yet picked up the work mantle again, my daily routine has changed considerably. I now have plenty of time in the mornings to first make our coffees, then once they have been drunk by me and my wife Dawa Dolkar, to go back and make the smoothies. All the time in world to not only do the coffees and the smoothies but also to do other stuff as well, such as empty the dishwasher and put all the nice clean cups and plates back into the kitchen cupboards.
First thing I do when making the smoothies is select the fruit I am going to use, picking the fruit from out of our fruit dish which lies on one of the kitchen worktops. Then I get the glass jug into which the fruit is put before being blitzed by way of our Kenwood Titanium Chef. With the fruit I peel a couple of bananas, break them into pieces, chuck them into the jug. Next thing is to slit into the top of an orange with a fruit knife, then stick my thumb into the slit to peel the orange. For years and years I used to just bite into an orange, then peel the skin off from the point of impact made by my teeth. A few months ago however Dawa Dolkar saw me biting into the orange and was absolutely disgusted, telling me in no uncertain that it was very unhygienic, that I should use a fruit knife to make an insertion, then peel the orange from the point I had cut into it. Guess she is right, although I have to say it was always very pleasurable sinking my teeth into a nice thick skinned orange, then getting to grips with it from those sunken teeth marks, my mouth filled with the faint taste of the bitter orange skin. What is more, my mum never told me there anything wrong with peeling an orange like that, the sink teeth insertion method that is.
Anyway, once the orange has been peeled I break it in half, then cut it into smaller pieces before scooping them up, chucking them into the jug with the bananas. Last to be attended to are a couple kiwi fruit whose furry skins are impossible to peel by hand, which therefore need to be sliced, quite thinly if possible, with a fruit knife. Once the skins have been sliced off it should just leave the juicy, green flesh of the kiwi, which is then sliced into about four or five pieces before also being chucked into the jug. At this point apple juice can be poured into the jug as well, then whole mix can be blitzed for around 20 seconds max, maybe a bit less than that. When that is done the resulting thick liquid can be poured into glasses and drunk as a morning smoothie.
For us the classic smoothie recipe is two bananas, two kiwi fruit, one orange and a generous splash of apple juice. There are variations on this which we do from time to time, such as three bananas, two kiwis, half a carton of strawberries, again a generous splash of apple juice. Guess this one is more seasonal, be done more in the summertime, when British strawberries are plentiful, available to pick up at around 2 quid or less from the supermarkets. The third and final recipe is one which comprises two bananas, two kiwis, an orange, a bunch of blackberries and again some apple juice. This recipe mix only came into existence because in the summer of 2017, around the beginning of August in fact, we had a couple of sessions of blackberry picking up on Woodford Green. We then blitzed what we picked the next morning as part of our smoothie, in fact we did it a few times, as there were simply thousands of blackberries on those bushes that year.
The classic smoothie though is the first one and it is this one which we are able to have pretty much every day of the year, as long as we are up for making it which these days we most definitely are.
As far as the buying the ingredients, from my experience the best kiwis to use are the SO Organic kiwis from Sainsbury’s which you can pick up at a price of £1.20 for a pack of four. This compares to £1.40 for a four pack of Duchy Organic kiwis from Waitrose which are also, by the way, not so good. Cheaper of course than the organics, are the bog standard kiwis which you can pick up at around £1 for a pack of six, but the kiwis in these packs tend to be rock hard, therefore you will need to wait a few days before you can use them, even when they are going in a blitzer.
First choice as far as oranges go would have to be the large navel oranges which can be picked up in packs of four from Waitrose at around £2.70. They are definitely top end as far price goes, in fact almost to the point of being an indulgence, but they are sweet and dead easy to peel as well, so nine times out of ten I will bite the bullet and drop a pack of them in my shopping basket if I happen to be in Waitrose. Finally for the bananas, well obviously they would have to be Fairtrade, but beyond that I have to admit I have not quite got my head around what the best ones are in terms of price and value. After a certain point all bananas seem to look and taste the same to me, so consistent has the supply chain been in bringing their production up to a state of almost universal conformity.
Now the colour in the glass of the classic smoothie mix as described above should be pale green with the tiny black kiwi seeds visible throughout. The thickness of the smoothie is all going to depend on how much juice you chose to splash into the mix before blitzing. Less juice then the thicker the smoothie, more juice then the thinner the smoothie, same applies if you are using water instead of juice. This I realise might be stating the obvious but it is a factor which comes into play if you are having to make smoothies for more than the usual amount of people. This is where the more diluted version can come in handy with regards to making the ingredients you have at your disposal stretch that little bit further.
The point of making your own smoothies is that it is both healthier and cheaper than buying already made smoothies from the supermarkets, smoothies from brands such as Innocent, now owned by the Coca Cola Company. It is also cheaper than buying fresh made smoothies at franchise smoothie outlets such as Boost! which can you find in many places throughout London but where you will get half the amount for twice the price when compared with making your own. Admittedly the range of smoothie mixes offered by places such as Boost! are impressively extensive but all the same you really are paying through the nose for them.
The health benefits from smoothies come in the form of potassium from bananas, tons of vitamin C from orange and apple, bacterial activation in the kidneys from the kiwi which in turn leads to regular movement of the bowels. This last point is most definitely not something to be underestimated, especially as one gets older and crustier by the day, when hauling yourself out of the sack each morning can be more and more of an effort.
Of course on one level having the time for me to be able to make a smoothie in the morning is incredible good fortune, something to be savoured each and every day. The flip side of the coin however can be that sometimes it merely serves to reinforce the realisation, always lurking around in the nether regions of my consciousness, that I am now well and truly on the scrapheap of life, after having been made redundant in the middle of the last year. This was when, by way of filing for voluntary liquidation, we closed Wise Words, the small book distribution company where I had worked for the last 27 years. For at least the final three years or so we had been struggling to make ends meet until we got to the point of wanting to pull the plug and knock the whole thing on the head.
I mentioned that having time to make a smoothie in the morning is a piece of good fortune, well it is also our good fortune to live in a time when making a smoothie with the ingredients listed is always possible. This is due to the simple fact I can walk into any shop or supermarket in my local area and be pretty much guaranteed that they will all be in stock. It is difficult to think of the last time I went to my local Waitrose or Sainsbury’s when the banana racks in their fruit and veg sections were not full to the point of bursting. Similar story with the oranges where there are always a good selection of varieties in stock at various prices, even kiwis are now available in various stages of ripeness each and every day of the year. All this really is incredible if we sit down and think about it.
With apple juice it is almost never the case that there isn’t at least one brand available to buy on special offer, meaning that you can easily pay well under 2 quid for a litre carton of fresh apple juice. When it comes to apple juice I have to say that my juice of choice would have to be Copella Cloudy Apple as this mixes particularly well when poured on top of the fruit chunks prior to being smashed in the blitzer. A close second however would have to be the Sainsbury’s own brand apple juice which also comes out that little bit cheaper, even when the special offers on the Copella Cloudy Apple are taken into account, so it is always worth considering.
One other factor to bear in mind when you begin to make smoothies on a regular basis is you will find yourself having to go out and buy their ingredients a little more often than you might usually have done in the past. This seems to be particularly the case with regard to bananas, mainly because, in my experience at least from out of all the fruits listed, they are the ones which still get eaten at other times of the day, even though they have already been included as the foundational base of the smoothie. When I go for my once or sometimes twice weekly swim down at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park for example, a banana getting chucked into my bag is by no means uncommon. Similarly a banana pick me up by way of being used on a couple of slices of toast in the late afternoon might also happen as well, especially when eaten along with a cup of hot, strong tea. Even in the evenings, at some point after the main meal, a banana might get smashed, and mixed with Onken plain set yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup, to make a really rather delicious dessert. So, yes, banana stocks can sometimes be run through at a fair old clip. I guess there is something more than a little jungle like which creeps into proceedings, when you find yourself going yet again to the fruit section of your local supermarket to pick up another big bunch of them. This of course is a minor quibble, well worth putting up with in order to enjoy the benefits of the smoothies.
So there you have it, I know that things such as time play a big factor with regard to the feasibility of whether you are going to be able to make yourself a smoothie every day, well, time and money I guess, but if you can do it your body will thank you for it.