Making Smoothies, Blended Drinks and Health Juices
Many different kinds of blended drinks can be made quickly and easily with the help of a food processor, blender or juice extractor. Fruit can be blended with yogurt, milk or juice to create a classic smoothie, or juiced with vegetables for a feel good health shot. A smoothie or juice can be turned into a thick, creamy shake by blending with a scoop or two of ice cream. Alternatively, blending them with crushed ice will make a delicious low-calorie frozen drink.
These simple drinks are usually a combination of soft-textured fruits, such as strawberries or peaches, blended with milk or yogurt. They can be thick or thin, refreshing or filling, and either sweet or savoury. There are lots of variations on the classic smoothie. For example, fruit juice, coconut milk or soya milk can be used in place of milk or yogurt.
Making a basic fruit smoothie
For the best results, you will need a food processor or blender.
1. Choose a soft-textured fruit or a combination of fruits, such as banana and mango, raspberry and peach or pineapple and papaya.
2. Peel, stone (pit) or hull 250g/9oz/ about 1½ cups fruit and cut the flesh into large chunks.
3. Place the fruit in a food processor or blender and add 120ml/4fl oz/½ cup yogurt and 120ml/4fl oz/½ cup milk.
Process for 1-2 minutes until smooth and frothy, then pour into a glass and serve. To make a smoothie without a food processor, place soft-textured fruit, such as raspberries or strawberries, in a bowl and mash with a fork, then press through a sieve into a large jug (pitcher). Add the milk and yogurt and whisk until frothy.
Fruit and vegetable juices
Hard and soft fruits and vegetables, leafy greens and fresh herbs can all be enjoyed as delicious juices. For the best results, you will need a juice extractor that first pulps the fruit and vegetables, them removes the juice. To obtain optimum nutritional benefits, drink these juices straight away.
Making pure juices
To make these, you will need a juice extractor that can juice hard and soft fruits and vegetables, leafy greens and peeled citrus fruits.
1. Choose a combination of fruits and vegetables, such as pear and melon, carrot and apple, or tomato, celery and cucumber.
2. Different fruits and vegetables contain varying amounts of juice; adjust quantities according to the ingredients. As a guide, prepare about 300g/11oz/2½ cups of the fruit and/or vegetables: scrub vegetables (trimming them if necessary), stone (pit) fruit and remove any thick peel.
3. Cut the fruit and/or vegetables into large chunks and use a juice extractor to juice. Serve immediately.
Making thick blended juices
If you do not own a juice extractor, you can make fruit juices in a food processor or blender. Blended juices tend to be thicker than regular juices and have a higher fibre content because the pulp has not been removed. Soft, juicy fruits, such as melon, pear and grapes, are all ideal for blended juices.
1. Choose one fruit or combination of fruits, such as melon and grape.
2. Peel, stone (pit), core or seed the fruit, cut the flesh into chunks and place in a food processor or blender. With fruit such as melon, it is easier to remove the seeds and scoop the flesh out of the skin straight into the food processor or blender.
3. Process the fruit for 2-3 minutes until very smooth. If the juice is very thick, add a little water or fruit juice and process to combine. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.
Add ice cream or ice to a basic smoothie or juice to create delicious, thick, frozen drinks that are perfect for summer.
Making frozen drinks with ice cream
You will need a food processor or blender to make ice cream smoothies and shakes.
1. Place 250g/9oz/1-1½ cups soft fruit, such as blueberries, into a food processor or blender. Pour in 175ml/6fl oz/¾ cup skimmed milk and add 2-3 scoops of ice cream. Process briefly until well mixed and smooth. Serve immediately.
Making frozen drinks with ice
You will need a powerful blender that can crush ice.
1. Wrap 125ml/8fl oz/1 cup ice cubes in a dishtowel and smash with a wooden mallet to break into smaller pieces. Place in a blender.
2. Add 250g/9oz/1-1½ cups soft fruit, such as raspberries, to the blender and pour in 120ml/4fl oz/ ½ cup fruit juice, such as orange juice. Blend for 2-3 minutes, or until the ice is finely crushed and the ingredients are combined. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.
Flavouring smoothies and juices
Additional flavourings can be added to a basic smoothie or juice mix to enhance the flavours and create even more delicious combinations.
Honey and flavoured syrups
Such as maple syrup or ginger syrup, will add sweetness and flavour to smoothies and juices. Make the drink, then blend in a little honey or syrup to taste.
Such as ginger, cinnamon and vanilla make a good addition to fruity blends. Add a pinch of ground spice to a smoothie or juice. Alternatively, make a spice syrup by infusing whole spices, such as cinnamon or vanilla, in a little water and sugar. Fresh spices, such as ginger, should be grated.
Can enhance the natural flavours of fruit and vegetable juices. Blend a few mint or lemon balm leaves with fruity mixtures, such as melon, pear and grape, or add coriander (cilantro), parsley or basil to vegetable mixtures, such as carrot and celery juice.
For extra bite
A little finely chopped fresh chilli can make a wonderful, peppery addition to both sweet and savoury blended drinks, while garlic can complement the flavours of a vegetable juice.
Coffee and chocolate
Can be used to flavour milky drinks. Blend a cooled espresso or a little chocolate syrup with milk and ice, or to make a frozen drink blend together coffee or chocolate ice cream and milk.
Liqueurs and spirits
Can give extra punch to blended drinks. Try peach schnapps with fruit drinks or add clear spirits such as vodka to vegetable juices. More full-bodied spirits, such as brandy or tequila, make a good addition to both fruit and vegetable-based drinks.