Smoothies and Frozen Drinks

What's more refreshing than a frozen drink? If you're looking for a delicious, healthy snack your kids will love, then a smoothie is a great choice. Or if you want to serve cooling refreshments to your summer guests, then a frozen drink is a real party pleaser. But there's more to it than just tossing ingredients into a blender. Follow these secrets to making the perfect fruit smoothie or frozen drink and you'll become an expert!

  1. Freeze the fruit ahead of time. It doesn't matter whether your smoothie recipe tells you to do this or not, this little trick will make for a thicker smoothie. Wash your fruit, cut in bite size pieces (slice bananas), spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze. When your fruit is frozen, you can pack it together in a storage bag or container in the freezer. For best results, use within 2 weeks.
  2. Use fresh ripe fruit for the best flavor.
  3. When the recipe calls for ice, crushed ice is best. If you don't have crushed ice, you can always place ice cubes in a sealable plastic bag on a cutting board and "crush" the cubes with a hammer, rolling pin, frying pan, etc.
  4. The blending order is important. First add the cold liquid, then the fruit, and last add the frozen yogurt (or ice cream) or the ice.
  5. Considering using a Smoothie Maker. They really work! Unless you have a powerful blender, it will labor when pulverizing ice.

How to Fix a Less Than Perfect Recipe:

Making smoothies and frozen drinks is not an exact science. You can start with a recipe and always change and improve it. Here are some basic tips to adapt any smoothie recipe to your own tastes and requirements.

  • To make it thicker:
    Add more ice, frozen fruit (especially a banana), frozen yogurt, ice cream or sherbet
  • If it's too thick:
    Add milk, water, or juice and blend again. Be careful when adding a lot of juice, because it will change the flavor of the frozen drink.
  • To make it creamier:
    Use ice cream, frozen yogurt or vanilla yogurt instead of the ice.
  • To reduce calories:
    Replace whole milk with skim milk. Use frozen yogurt or sorbet instead of ice cream. Add fresh fruit instead of sweetened frozen fruit. Use a sugar substitute. Choose nonfat yogurt over regular yogurt.
  • To make it sweeter:
    Add honey, maple syrup, a little sugar (superfine or confectioner's sugar blends best) or Splenda.
  • If it's too sweet:
    add a little lemon juice or even lemonade.
  • To make it healthier:
    Add protein power or brewer's yeast available from the health food or vitamin store (and some supermarkets).
  • To add fiber:
    Add ground flax seed, wheat bran, wheat germ, and leave the skin on the fruit.
  • To make a frozen drink with alcohol:
    Substitute rum, vodka, or a fruit liqueur for an equal part of the juice or other liquid called for in the recipe. Pour into a margarita or hurricane glass and garnish with fresh fruit. However, if a frozen drink calls for alcohol and you prefer a non-alcoholic beverage, simply substitute juice, milk or water for the spirits.
  • To add extra flavor:
    Use very ripe, quality fresh fruit. A little cocoa powder gives it a chocolaty flavor. Try a few drops of almond extract or some of the other fruit extracts sold in the baking section of the supermarket. Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Recipes to get you started:

(Blend each of these as directed above)

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

  • 8 oz. vanilla or strawberry yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, frozen
  • 1 whole banana
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups orange sherbet
  • 3/4 cup vanilla frozen yogurt

Peach Smoothie

  • 2 cups peach nectar (juice)
  • 1 cup peach yogurt
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peach slices
  • 1 cup vanilla frozen yogurt

Cantaloupe Smoothie

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups cantaloupe, cut in chunks, frozen
  • heaping tablespoon of vanilla yogurt
  • ice cubes to thicken

Cappuccino Smoothie

  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 2 cups crushed ice or ice cubes
  • Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon