My family was in for a rather unappetizing surprise when I tried my hands on preparing a smoothie for the very first time. It was abysmally sweet, had no texture, looked like crap, and they really couldn't decide whether to eat that goop of a bowl with a spoon on try sipping it from a glass. It was an absolute disaster and my family decided that smoothies were really not their way to go about a morning breakfast. Oh, and I was also banned from the kitchen for quite some time! The blue, purple glasses of illusive smoothies on Instagram kept haunting me though.
As I went through detailed recipes, I realised that most of them were adapted for foreign countries, the locally sourced ingredients were different from what we get in India. A few more experiments later, I also learned that a wholesome smoothie is way more than just tossing random fruits together and blending them into a mush. I learned that a balanced, beautiful Insta-worthy smoothie is no short of an art, the nuances of which, fortunately, can be mastered by a few basic hacks.
One year since then and my day doesn't start without a hearty smoothie anymore! Intrigued to find out what changed the smoothie game for me? Read on:
For a fruit-based smoothie, it is integral to get your fruit combinations right. Basically, you shouldn’t mix two sweet fruits like apples and bananas or two sour ones for that matter if an epic smoothie is what you seek to create. Go for slightly contrasting fruits for all the flavours in your smoothie to truly pop out. Bananas and strawberries, for instance, make for a bomb team when it comes to smoothies.
Here are three more combos that work like magic:
Apples + Pineapples
Mangoes + Plums
Pears + Black Grapes
Pro tip: Chop the fruits and freeze them overnight for the perfect smoothie. It really does wonder to the smoothie texture.
Insignificant as it might seem, it is the liquid ingredient that defines the overall consistency and taste of your smoothie. From milk to water while people tend to add everything to their smoothie, not all of it is ideal.
Milk, for instance, should be the last ingredient to find a place in your ingredient list especially when you have opted for citrus fruits.
Here's why: The digestive enzyme responsible for digesting protein in dairy products gets destroyed by the acid in citrus fruits thus leading to stomach discomfort and digestive disorders. Yoghurt, on the other hand, doesn't do much for the taste and makes for a rather unappetising combination when mixed with fruits. Over time and after some major trial and errors, I have realised that if there exists one liquid ingredient that is both nutritious and helps you manipulate the consistency of your smoothie really well, then it has to be the coconut water. It is healthy and has just a tinge of sweetness that makes it perfect to add to your smoothie.
Once you have zeroed on the base fruits, it is the texture of the smoothie that needs some attention. Just fruits and nothing else in your smoothie is a bad idea and the quickest way to get you done with the idea of smoothies in like two days. You will always feel like something is missing and this is exactly why you need some extra texture.
Here are four hero ingredients that can take your smoothie from drab to fab in no time:
Soaked Almonds (roughly ground): For that granular touch.
Shredded Coconut: For a chewy, flavourful variant.
Chia Seeds (soaked) overnight: For the jelly-like feel.
Rolled Oats (roasted): For that added crunch.
Pro tip: Process the texture enhancing ingredients separately and then mix them with the base fruit blend.
Contrary to what you’d like to believe, maple syrup is not healthy! Nor is coconut sugar. They are all just less evil versions of sugar. Oh also, no matter what they say, drizzling that honey in your smoothie just makes it taste and smell like crap. And while moderately sweet smoothies might work just fine with some, there is an all-natural way of jazzing it up for the ones with a sweet tooth: dates! You just need to blend in 3-4 dates into your smoothie bowl to sweeten it the natural way. Alternatively, adding sapodilla (Chikoo) to the mix will also do the task for you.
Pro tip: It’s always a good idea to taste your smoothie before adding anything sweet to the mix. Sometimes the basic fruit in itself is sweet enough for the entire smoothie bowl and adding other sweet ingredients would only spoil it for you.
Most of us have watched enough Masterchef episodes to know that the plating or the garnishing can literally make or break a look. Now for smoothies, garnishing serves a more important purpose by helping us elevate the overall nutrient content of the bowl thus converting it into a full meal. This is your window to add a generous dollop of some healthy fats, proteins, and nutrients to your bowl. Think of a hearty mix of seeds, nut butter, and fruit chunks.
Here's are some garnish suggestions that will give your smoothie the perfect finishing touch:
Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds (roasted), hemp, sesame.
Types of Butter: Peanut Butter, almond butter, pumpkin seed butter.
Nuts: Almonds (slivered), cashews (roasted and coarsely chopped), peanut (roasted and coarsely chopped), pine nuts.
Fruits: Black Grapes (peeled and chopped), mangoes (finely chopped), strawberries (finely chopped), plumps (pureed), cherries, pomegranate.
While these will really help in elevating your smoothie game, smoothies are all about customisation and you can adapt yours as per your preferences. And while hacks do make it easy, the most important key to ace them is to let your imagination run wild!
Featured Image: Unsplash
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