Monday, February 23, 2009
I'm a Homemade Smoothie Junkie
I feel that it is time for me to extol the many virtues of The Smoothie, made from fresh, wholesome ingredients in one's very own blender.
My smoothie habit began several years ago upon reading an issue of Southern Living Magazine. In it was a short breakfast recipe for Banana-Berry Smoothie and an accompanying picture of said smoothie that made my mouth water. In truth, this was about eight years after receiving a blender as a wedding gift, and the only task my blender had ever really performed was making frozen margaritas (something else I'm addicted too, but that's another not-so-flattering story); I often wondered what sorts of yummy culinary concoctions I was missing out on by not putting my blender to more creative uses. So, one morning I decided to give the smoothie a try...and YUM, was it ever tasty. I immediately knew that the Banana-Berry Smoothie would be a regular part of my culinary repertoire.
Before I go any further, allow me to share the recipe with you:
Banana-Berry Smoothie (from Southern Living Magazine)(Note: this is NOT the smoothie pictured above - keep reading for that recipe.)
1 cup plain yogurt
3 C frozen strawberries
2 bananas, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup crushed ice (I just threw in a couple of ice cubes)
1/4 cup honey
Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Serve immediately. Makes about 5 (1-cup) servings. (Note: for my small family of 3, I only needed half of this recipe.)
At the time that I first tried this recipe, my son, Kurt, had just turned one. He was a very picky eater (which he gets from his mother - I put my parents through hell at that age with my own eating habits), so I was looking for anything that would encourage him to eat more fruits and vegetables. The first time he tried the smoothie, he was hooked. I was deliriously happy that I had the opportunity to ensure he was getting a nutritional snack - yogurt, strawberries, bananas - I could just see all of those little strains of good bacteria and multiple vitamins and minerals coursing through my son's body making him strong.
The Banana-Berry Smoothie became a regular part of our diet, sometimes as a morning snack or a late afternoon refresher. We especially enjoyed the smoothie during Houston's hot summer days.
As time went on, my husband and I started noticing that our son was experiencing a few health problems. As he got a little older, Kurt began struggling with chronic constipation which made him (and us) downright miserable. Since even before then, I had also thought that Kurt cried a lot throughout his infancy, not in a colicky way, but just did a lot of crying in general. My husband reassured me that that's what babies did. Even though I wasn't so sure he should've been doing as much crying as he did, I accepted my husband's explanation.
When Kurt was two, we knew something was amiss. He began vomiting in the morning and clearly suffered from allergies. Just after his third birthday, we knew we needed more help; our own attempts to help Kurt deal with whatever allergies he had were not working. So, we had him tested by an allergist. In addition to many tree and grass pollen allergies, the result's of Kurt's tests indicated he was allergic to milk (yes, we were clueless about this for THREE YEARS - nice parenting, huh?) and chocolate. The milk allergy was, of course, the cause of the vomiting, and it was also the probable suspect causing the constipation.
With that in mind, I immediately began changing the ingredients that I cooked with. The smoothie now contained soy or goat's milk yogurt and those same milk alternatives. And the bananas had to go until we were able to work through Kurt's constipation; so, I replaced the bananas with blueberries and raspberries. I also added up to a teaspoon of ground flax seed in each of our smoothies. The health benefits of flax seed are great, including most importantly for Kurt, a good dose of additional fiber.
Kurt just turned four last month, and I'm happy to say that his constipation has all but disappeared. He still has some setbacks when we travel, but at home, he is as regular as regular can be.
Due to Kurt's dairy allergy, the smoothie that we now make on a virtually daily basis has morphed into the following tasty mix:
1 small container peach or raspberry or strawberry flavored soy yogurt
1 cup apple juice
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
What's pleased me most of all is that we've conquered Kurt's constipation naturally. His pediatrician had given us medication for Kurt which we had used on a handful of occasions when his constipation was simply so awful that none of us could bear it any longer, least of all our poor little Kurt. I really believe the smoothie has been the key ingredient to helping Kurt become regular. When things got really bad for him, I'd make the above recipe and go particularly heavy on the raspberries which are especially high in fiber, not to mention adding a large spoonful of flax seed in Kurt's drink.
I've included a picture of our smoothie, just because the color is so very pleasing. It makes me happy before I've even taken a sip of it; something about that deeply rich tone of fuchsia puts a smile on my face every time. In the summer, I like to double the batch and make my own homemade popsicles by freezing half of it in popsicle molds. Kurt LOVES them, as you can see in the other photo. They're not only great in Houston's hotter-than-Hades weather but also whenever he is sick. If you're feeling too lazy to make popsicles, just pour some into an ice cube tray and when it's frozen, you can crush them up a bit and make slushies out of them. Kurt loves it that way, too.
In order to keep up our smoothie habit, I have a constant supply of three or four different kinds of frozen fruit in my freezer (I buy bagged from the supermarket; I'm way too lazy to freeze fresh fruit myself, but that would probably be a cheaper option). Sometimes, if I get bored with the recipe cited just above, I'll throw in some frozen mango or banana. The possibilities are endless.