Thursday, May 5, 2011

Radically Natural Recipe: Put It in a Smoothie!!!

I love smoothies!  I love playing with flavor combinations; I love refreshing frozen fruit; I love a smooth, creamy texture; I love the color; I love the healthy ingredients that impart amazing flavor without any unnecessary added sugars/franken-foods.

And I LOVE that you can hide otherwise less palatable things in smoothies and get your kids to drink them.

We drink an abundance of smoothies and I never neglect to use them as a vehicle for an extra "health shot."  I add powdered herbs, vitamins, liquid algae, cod liver oil, kefir, wheatgrass, etc. ... whatever needs to be in my children's bodies that otherwise might take excessive work and/or fussing.  The key to successful smoothie supplement "hiding" is FLAVOR!  And the key to good smoothie flavor is excellent, organic, ripe fruit.

I have seen smoothie recipes that call for the addition of sugar...maple syrup, honey or the like (or worse!). While I have been known to add a tablespoon of raw honey to a smoothie (either to cover the flavor of an "overripe" kefir addition or to make up for less-than-ripe fruit), I generally do not like to add generous amounts of sugars to my fruit smoothies.  Honestly, I cringe at the thought of children drinking a "cup full" of sugar...and when I look at the amount of maple syrup some people suggest as a smoothie addition, it doesn't scream, "pure, healthy, blended fruit;" rather, I see children bouncing off the ceiling!  LOL  If your smoothie is so unpalatable that you feel you need to add a 1/2 cup of maple syrup to it, you're doing something wrong.  Save that wonderful maple syrup for topping whole-grain kefir pancakes or baking an apple crisp!  If you really need to sweeten your smoothie a bit, your healthiest option is a small amount of raw honey.

Certain fruits provide sweeter flavor; a no-fail sweet smoothie boost is a really ripe banana.  Ripe pineapple also gives an otherwise potentially "under flavored" smoothie a nice kick.  And adding good, strong cinnamon (preferably ceylon) enriches not only the flavor, but also the healthiness of your fruit smoothie (cinnamon balances blood sugar levels; quite good for people who suffer from hypoglycemia).  My favorite frozen fruit for smoothies is strawberry...when picked ripe and frozen right away, these delicious berries never fail to execute smoothie delight!

Berries typically are the frozen fruit that give smoothies their chill and color.  When you play with different combinations, you will find your own favorites as well as become more familiar with flavor blending for your desired outcome.  I find raspberries and blackberries to be more tart than strawberries, and blueberries tend to fall in the middle of that spectrum.  Exotic fruits such as papaya and mango are a boon to fruit-sweet smoothies, but again, ripeness is key.

A few years ago, when we had access to a local organic farm that offered u-pick days, we brought home 20 lbs. of absolutely perfectly ripened strawberries and froze them.  We had never before, nor since, had such delightful smoothies.  Finding u-pick opportunities and making sure the berries/fruit are at their height of ripeness (which means the height of the fruit's sugar production) can be a wonderful way to stock your smoothie ingredient larder.  Be sure to freeze as soon as you can, and remember not to wash strawberries (and other highly fragile berries such as raspberries and blackberries); the water damages the flesh and encourages mold.  One of the benefits to buying truly organic fruit is that you don't need to wash it...if dirt from the farm remains, just gently brush off the flesh.  A little organic dirt is actually good for you, so don't worry about every minute will blend! LOL

Here is my basic smoothie recipe, which generally feeds my family of five (all organic ingredients).
[You can add ice cubes if needed to satisfy temperature/texture preferences; this recipe is cold and smooth to our liking.]
  • 1 can coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen brand...very thick and creamy)
  • 1 can chunk pineapple or a bunch of freshly cut pineapple
  • 1/4 cup kefir (from raw, grass-fed milk...cow or goat...whatever is available)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • a generous handful frozen strawberries
  • some spinach or wheatgrass
  • 1 Tb. cinnamon
  • some raw cocoa nibs (I like Earth Circle Organics)
  • whatever herb/vitamin blend chosen for the day; or liquid algae or cod liver oil
Sometimes I will add an organic protein powder, but we don't use it as a regular practice.  I currently enjoy the Sun Warrior raw, organic, fermented brown rice protein powder.  Whey is an excellent source of protein and is easiest to obtain from your own homemade kefir and yogurt (from raw, grass-fed milk). My family smoothies are not designed as a meal replacer, so I am not concerned about making sure they are extremely protein rich.  If you need more protein in your smoothie, you may want to add more kefir or natural whey, or consider purchasing a good-quality whey or rice protein powder (a discussion of which is not my intent for this post, but suffice it to say that "good quality" would mean not highly processed, no corn syrup or other unhealthy sugars, etc.).  Another great thing to add to your smoothie is raw organic pastured egg yolks.

I always use powdered herbs and superfoods as smoothie additions.  I often add bilberry, goji berry and various nutrient-rich, mildly flavored herbs (such as nettle, ginkgo, and oatstraw).  These whole foods are high in essential vitamins and minerals and contain healing compounds that nourish your body in a way that supplements cannot.  Check out my Links section for websites that sell herbs and powdered superfoods; you can design your own smoothie health blends for your family's needs.  (One of my favorite superfood powder suppliers is  For children who cannot yet swallow vitamin/mineral/probiotic capsules or tablets, smoothies are a wonderful supplement vehicle.  Just open the capsule into the smoothie and mix (or blend the tablet into the smoothie).  Fish oils disguise nicely in flavorful fruit smoothies.  You'll be amazed at what your children will NOT notice in a smoothie.

One night a few weeks ago, our toddler was suffering from a mild bout of tummy trouble that was causing diarrhea.  My routine remedy for this condition is activated charcoal and pascalite clay.  I mix the two powders in water, making a black sludge, and serve it up.  This is not a favorite drink of my children, LOL, but it is usually drunk without much agitation.  However, the hour of night and the discomfort of my little girl prompted my husband to recommend that I blend up a quick smoothie for the addition of the charcoal remedy.  I was hesitant to make such noise so late at night, but hubby was convinced that the whole ordeal would be better served by a smoothie.  He was right.  My little girl LOVES smoothies and daily begs for when she saw the ingredients going in, and she finally had hold of her cup of happiness, she had no suspicion of the added "sludge."  She devoured the smoothie and the complaints only began when she realized there was no more!

So the next time you are wondering how to get your child to take some necessary healthy (but perhaps "distasteful") supplement/remedy, put it in a smoothie!  And while you are at it, don't forget to drink a daily family health is a delicious way to enjoy your nutrients!