by Jonathan Berry Perry
A few weeks back the stars aligned. First, mom gave me her old avocado-green blender, which is totally 1970s chic and probably older than I am, but it still works. Then, I started on a berry kick. Most notably a blueberry kick. Berries, especially blueberries, are supposed to be good for the brain, are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, and have a boatload of antioxidants which act as ninjas to fight free radicals which cause cancer and other junk. Ninjas!
Good stuff. So I started scarfing blueberries by the handful and sprinkling them in my cereal until there were more blueberries than Mini-Wheats (I’d been eating cereal for other, non-breakfast, meals, so I had berries coming out my ears. Blue milk in your cereal is pretty wicked, too. I have not turned blue yet like that wicked child in Willy Wonka‘s chocolate factory). I like most berries, being multi-berry tolerant, so I gradually added other types of berries to my blueberried cereal: blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. If the market carried more weirdly named berries like gooseberries, lingonberries or boysenberries, I’d try those in a second. Are there goat berries? There totally should be. No Marionberries for me, though (There really is a Marionberry, but it‘s not named after the nose candy dude. I‘d try it if I could find it. Oh, and the Marionberry is a blackberry.).
This brings me to the crazy awesome berry smoothie. I’ve been making loads of them lately. I know I’m late to the smoothie game, I didn’t invent them, and everyone else probably already makes them like pros all the time in their sleep at work, but I’m still quite excited. I also beat McDonald’s to the punch (so McD‘s can bite me. Also, your jingle sucks.). I’m not selling them like McD’s, though, so I guess, we’re not really rivals. Anymore.
I’ve been using the smoothies as meals and desserts, increasing my fruit intake and decreasing my processed sugar and caloric intake (hopefully) while consuming hearty goodness. They taste fantastic and they’re super easy to make (I mean, if you have a blender). In fact, they’re even kind of fun to make because you can experiment with strange tastes and throw different fruits into your mix to create interesting combinations and you can really do no wrong, as long as you like the way it tastes and don‘t die from, like, adding a poison mushroom accidentally to the recipe (though if you‘re adding mushrooms to your fruit smoothies, God help you).
I mentioned my new found smoothie operation to some friends and one of the girls asked if I was using a Vita Mix, which is apparently a pretty awesome piece of blending equipment that specializes in zombie brain smoothies. I admitted to having an Osterizer that’s perhaps 40 years old with dull blades that would do a poor job on the smooth muscles of a brain and anyway I‘m a vegetarian. And not a zombie. The ancient Osterizer sits on the kitchen counter next to my 40 year-old Kitchen Aid mixer in some sort of appliance convalescence. Another girl, feeling sagey, said that when an appliance is older than you, it’s probably a good idea to upgrade. Resisting the urge to pull her hair, I pointed out that so far I’m only squishing fruits and berries into a tasty drinkable food substance and would probably be ok for the time being or at least until I start a small kitchen fire.
However, newly intrigued by the possibility of acquiring a nifty magic piece of equipment to change food from solids to liquids, from chewable to drinkable, I decided to buy a new blending device. The blades would be sharp , the container made of glass, the buttons awesome, and it would look pretty excellent in my bachelor kitchen. First, I had to do a little research.
Right away I found that the Vita Mix blenders sell in the $400-500 range, so that was a no go, since I‘m saving up to one day buy the Golden Gate Bridge. Don’t get me wrong, they’re considered to be the best and most powerful blenders on the market and maybe in another lifetime I’d spring for it, but not now. No, I just want to destroy little berries and bananas and figured I could do it much more cheaply.
Instead, I went with an Oster, basically a great-great grandchild of the avocado-green one from mom. Osters are among the best rated blenders not in the $500 range. They’re usually under $100. In this case there was a sale, plus I had a store discount, so I ended up getting the thing for under $40. Score!
For most of the smoothies I make, there are basically 3 types of ingredients: berries, bananas, and soy milk. At the moment, I’m using low-fat vanilla-flavored almond milk which is good stuff. I know there are people who aren’t into soy or almond or rice milk, and are thinking “Dude, give me the real stuff.“, and if that’s the case, cow’s milk works fine (though there‘s some cholesterol and you‘re totally going to die).
I blend the milk and banana together before I start throwing in the berries. Next, I usually add any frozen berries or fruit. These frozen berries are great because they help make your smoothie nice and cold from the outset, also the flash-frozen fruit is supposed to preserve the precious nutrients better than berries sitting on the produce shelf for weeks. I probably use ½ cup of frozen blueberries and ½ cup of frozen strawberries, but I don‘t really measure cuz I‘m a rebel like that. I could call this random lack of measurement a glob, like a pinch or smidgen, but much bigger.
After I’ve added the frozen stuff, I throw in rinsed non-funky berries (although funkyberries sound cool). I’m not really sure how much goes in, but I kind of eyeball it and probably add another cup or more of all that. You might even try adding yogurt. There’s an abandoned raspberry gelato in my freezer that I don’t much care for, so I might chuck that in (These smoothies taste better than that raspberry gelato). I usually reach 3 or 4 cups of smoothie, by this point, and since a serving of fruit is ½ cup, allowing for the milk, this might come out to 5 to 7 servings of fruit. I usually end up with 2 or 3 large glasses of smoothie. I may or may not have added a 2nd banana just to be weird.
Ultimately, I want to branch out from the berries and try other fruit. Experiment with pear. Go crazy with coconuts. Get goofy with guava. I added a nectarine and a mango a few days ago and they were superb. Last week I added some amino acid to the smoothie. Why, you ask? Because I’m off my rocker. The amino acid is in the form of huge double-horse pills I bought a while back for weight lifting. I’ll need to be sure to chop the pills up better next time because there were unpleasantly large chunks of amino acid pills in my smoothie. Blech. This was my least favorite batch of the junk.
Some people add bran (not brain), whey, and other random healthy stuff to their smoothies. I’ll have to mess around with these and see if they‘re not completely loathsome. I’ve had good results with wheat germ and flaxseed and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Otherwise, the basic berry smoothie recipe is easy, very tasty, and quite good for you. And I haven’t turned blue yet.
What smoothie combos do you like?
The secret made-up compound word is Funkyberries
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