Kitchen Essentials – Kitchen Picassos

Make Your Own Delicious Smoothies at Home: Now that the fine folks at the Golden Arches are bragging about the variety and quality of their smoothies, we can officially declare the drinks an essential part of America’s refreshment landscape.

Buying smoothies when you’re out is easy enough to do, but if you’re home when the urge hits, you might want to consider playing the role of culinary scientist and kitchen Picasso and have some fun making your own.

Where to start? How about with an official definition of a “smoothie” so everyone is on the same page? According to Wikipedia, “A smoothie [occasionally spelled ‘smoothee’ or ‘smoothy’] is a thick beverage made from blended raw fruit and/or vegetables, with other ingredients such as water, ice or sweeteners.”

Smoothies may also include fruit juice, dairy products, plant milks, nuts, nut butter, seeds, tea, chocolate, herbal supplements or nutritional supplements. It seems, in fact, that homemade smoothies can include just about anything, except, maybe, Slim Jims.

So, no matter what you like to eat, there is a smoothie recipe for you. Pick a color, any color. No problem. There is a smoothie recipe for that, too.

Smoothies_Main_Fall15Boston super chef Jasper White once said that for New Englanders, the beauty of lobster is that it is one of the cheapest high-end gourmet foods out there. In a weird way, that logic also applies to smoothies. Right now they are all but the epitome of healthy-living chic, and anyone can afford to make them at home without investing heavily in kitchen appliances.

For example, a Hamilton Beach single-serve blender that lists for less than $25 was among the best reviewed smoothie makers in a recent Consumer Reports article. On the other hand, another Consumer Reports favorite was the Breville Hemisphere Control blender with a list price nearly 10 times the cost of the Hamilton Beach model.

Maybe a “tweener” is in order. Something like the Oster Pure Blend 300, which retails at around $50, may work for you. Whether you decide to go high end or low end … or somewhere in the middle … here are a few things to look for in a smoothie maker:

• A powerful motor… with the following bit of serious advice: Should the blades jam, never, ever, put your hand in the blender. Period. Get the right blender and it won’t jam unless you pour gravel into it.

• Strong blades. (See the serious advice above.) You want a blender with a motor/blades combo that will allow you to easily crush ice and chop up frozen fruits, veggies, etc., and not sound as if it’s having a stroke while doing it.

• Easy to use. Here’s a quick hint: If the how-to manual is roughly the size of what we used to call telephone books, move along.

• Easy to clean. If the cleanup time is, oh, twice as long as the prep time, you will end up going out to buy most of your smoothies.

• Looks OK in the kitchen. You don’t need to purchase the Heidi Klum of smoothie makers, but if the thing is so ugly you hide it in a closet or on a secret shelf when not using it, you’ll quickly get tired of schlepping it in and out and … again … end up going out to buy most of your smoothies.

• A decent warranty. Hey, things happen. You don’t want to deal with bringing your smoothie maker to some dubious guy in a raincoat who arranges to meet you on a backstreet in Boston.

You don’t have to pay high-end prices for smoothies “to go.” In fact, you don’t need to pay for more than the ingredients to make them, or even get them “to go.” With just a little research and foresight … and a good recipe or two … any house or apartment can be a smart smoothie factory.

Tired of drinking the same old smoothies and looking for something a little different? Or are you just getting “smoothie savvy”? Either way, these two smoothie recipes from North Andover’s Good Day Cafe should meet your needs … and then some.

Watermelon Smoothie
– 1 ½ cups chopped watermelon ½ cup chopped skinless cucumber
– 4 mint leaves 12 ounces ice 2 ounces water
Directions: Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. Makes two servings.

PB and J Smoothie
– 1 ½ cups chopped strawberries ½ cup blueberries
– 2 tablespoons peanut butter 12 ounces ice
– 2 ounces milk, water or ice cream
Directions: Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. Makes two servings.

Good Day Cafe: North Andover, Mass.  /  (978) 688-6006  /  MyGoodDayCafe.com

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