Before kale and coconut oil became all the rage, and we all went out to buy the Hemsley + Hemsley book, I lived in Southern California. This essentially means that a big glass of something green and on a semi-regular basis is not just a health statement for me, but something I crave. While it is not really possible to create cold pressed juices at home, smoothies (especially at breakfast time before I go to work or at the weekend to keep me going until supper time after a big brunch) are a totally different matter.
Now, I've been making smoothies in a pretty retro (but still pretty good) Kenwood smoothie maker I won a couple of years ago in the raffle at my political party's local annual association dinner (exciting life I lead, I know!) I was happy with it, but I always wanted something that would make my smoothies and soups silky smooth, and would break down all the goodness in things like cucumber and carrot skins without being bitty. Okay, who am I kidding? Yes eating the skins have a whole host of nutritional benefits, but to be perfectly honest I was just being lazy. However, because I already had a blender to make smoothies in, I told myself I did not need a new one.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when the team at Steamer Trading Cookshop (one of my favourite stores in Canterbury, opposite the Cathedral gates) offered to put aside a Nutri Ninja for me to try out to help celebrate that they are currently £69.95 down from £99.99 in every one of their 34 stores (find your nearest one here) and online (here) from now until November 1st.
I've been playing around with it ever since making a whole load of different fruit and vegetable smoothies, and I'm rather excited to make a start with it making soups, too. I really can tell the difference from my old blender, and it is such a relief to not have to peel things anymore.
Now, I have included the current green smoothie recipe I've been drinking below, which is packed with lots of green goodness, ripe mango for sweetness and a nice bit of fresh mint for that minty freshness you want first thing in the morning. However, I want this post to act as a little bit of a primer on things to keep in mind when you're making any vegetable smoothie, so you can make a good one out of whatever you have leftover in the bottom of your fridge. While I do have some 'health food' add ons in here, they're nothing that you can't get at the supermarket.
- Spinach gives a beautiful green colour. However, if you use it in a berry smoothie, while the result will still taste delicious, it may turn it an interesting shade of brown.
- Raw beetroot gives a fantastic earthy taste, and turns any smoothie a beautiful deep pink.
- Green smoothies need a sweet base. If you don't want to use any sweetener like honey or maple syrup, you'll need to add something like ripe mango or pineapple to keep the green colour.
- All soft herbs are great, but mint can be overpowering so use it sparingly.
- The chopped curly kale you get in most British supermarkets will still make a pithy smoothie, it just does not break down well enough. Stuff from the market is okay, though.
- Citrus fruits are a great addition if you feel your smoothie needs brighting up. Blend the flesh too, just slice off the skin and remove as many seeds as you can.
- Seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and linseed break down beautifully to add extra nutrients and to make the smoothie slightly creamier. Great tip I got from my colleague Robert.
- You can pack more into a smoothie if you blend half the ingredients with a little filter water, then add the rest with some crushed ice for an instant chilling effect.
- One from the Hemsley sisters I love, a spoonful of coconut oil in adds creaminess.
- You can also make your smoothies creamy without adding yogurt (though Greek yogurt is delicious in berry smoothies) by soaking nuts that nut milks are generally made out of (almonds, cashews) overnight so they're tender and adding them to the mix.
The below formula makes one persons worth (in the smaller of the two smoothie cups the Nutri Ninja comes with) of smoothie, and does not contain any ingredients that go funny when they're exposed to the air, so you can make it up (in the bigger cup to allow room to blend without having to add the ingredients in two parts) without the ice and just with more water and leave it in the fridge to get nice and cold overnight, ready to just whizz up, attach the to go cup lid and dash first thing in the morning.
- 1 Stick Celery
- 1/4 Cucumber
- 1/2 Ripe Mango (or a handful frozen mango)
- Leaves of 2-3 Mint Sprigs
- 2 Large Handfuls Spinach
- 1/2 Lemon
- 1 tbsp Mixed Seeds
- 4 tbsp Filter Water
- Handful Crushed Ice
I'd love to hear what all of your go to smoothie recipes are (or what else you use your blenders for), as I've become pretty obsessed with the whole exercise all over again. Aside from this green concoction, so far the only other blends I have in my arsenal are the blueberry smoothie from my friend Izy's book Top With Cinnamon, and this creamy beetroot and cinnamon number from the Hemsley sisters.