Pin It

Smoothie Operator 

by Chef Boy Ari

When my niece Sasha comes over, she heads for the raspberry patch. When her pile is big enough, we make the world's best smoothie.

Can this be true? The world's best smoothie? That's a mighty tall order indeed. I think of the tropical countries I've visited and their myriad blended offerings of fruit with ice, juice, alcohol and milk. How could Sasha and I compete with the smoothie makers of Cartagena, Colombia, and their overwhelming diversity of jungle fruits, all washed and stored separately in a circle of glass jars around the blender? And there is Brazil, where suco (juice) means fruit pulp blended with ice before serving, and vitamina means "smoothie with milk." Brazil is also home to the ababatida, an unexpectedly delicious concoction that I will describe soon.

Alas, smoothies are at once so simple and so full of possibilities that there can't really be any such thing as the world's best smoothie. It's the context -- as much as the ingredients -- that really makes it. And in the context of a hot summer day, the world's best smoothie might be the one you're drinking right now.

The first thing Sasha and I do is crush ice in the blender. We add honey to the ice to help suck the cubes into the whirling blades, and for sweetener. When the honey slush is prepared, we add the raspberries and lime juice and blend that smoothie home. Without the lime, there is no way that this is the world's best smoothie, because with raspberry, as well as with many other fruits, including melon, lime brings out the flavor. That's super-secret smoothie trick #1.

Along the same lines, smoothie researchers have discovered many more fruit combinations that are worthy of note, including apple/grape, cranberry/lemon, orange/mango and apple/watercress(!), with many more yet to be discovered. And there are extra-fancy ways of preparing such combinations. For example, now that apricots are in season, try soaking some ripe ones overnight in orange juice and smoothing them for breakfast.

Then there's trick #2, which, in direct contradiction to what Sasha and I do, is to skip the ice altogether and freeze the fruit. Admittedly, this kills the spontaneity of rushing into the kitchen with the still-quivering berries and whizzing it up. But on the other hand, substituting frozen fruit for ice makes a thicker smoothie--if that's what you want. Personally, I like my smoothies thick in the morning and thin during the heat of the day for more thirst-quenching action. One bit of advice: If you freeze bananas, peel them first; frozen bananas don't easily shed their peels.

Other ways to thicken smoothies involve the addition of milk or milk-like products, such as yogurt, soy milk (or rice milk, or almond milk, or oat milk...). And, for a completely over-the-top decadent experience, use coconut milk.

To make it thicker still, you can add peanut butter or tahini for nutty thickness, or wheat germ, whole oats or granola for fiber. Whatever you do, be sure to wash the blender as soon as you are finished. Don't wait around for the remains of your smoothie to weld themselves onto your poor blender -- that's trick #3.

Speaking of blenders, Oster, Vita-mix, and Cuisinart brands all receive high marks from the likes of Consumer Reports and Cook's Illustrated. Then there's my buddy, Exhibit Abe. He monitors the progress of the summer by buying a weekly bag of huckleberries at the farmers' market. He blends these with vanilla ice cream in his two-horsepower, gas-guzzling unit called the Tailgator, a modified weed whacker with a blender attachment. (You can find the Tailgator at Exhibit Abe claims he can taste the maturation of the huckleberry crop through his weekly smoothie.

Then there is that favorite of Indian restaurant patrons, the mango lassi. Cut one mango into the blender. Blend in the juice of a whole lime (and some lime zest, if you really want to put Martha to shame). Add yogurt and sugar to taste, and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Blend and serve.

Finally, here is your mind-expanding smoothie combination for the week, brought to you from the Ver o Peso market in Belem, Brazil: the afore-promised ababatida. Like the mango lassi, it will never be truly in season in our northern latitudes. But thanks to global trade, we can all give the ababatida a whirl. It's a simple smoothie of avocado, milk, and sugar. And like all smoothies, the parameters of the ababatida are loose. Soy milk or yogurt can work in place of milk. Honey works instead of sugar, etc.

If you've never tried this combination, shut up -- because it really works. Those three simple ingredients, in the presence of a blender, add up to a smoothie that is nothing short of divine. No, really. If you haven't tried it yet, I don't have time for your ignorant protests. Give it a shot, and then shoot me an e-mail: [email protected]

Publication date: 08/26/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Starting Small
  • Starting Small

    A village of tiny houses in Spokane Valley could serve as a model for fighting homelessness in the region
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Drastic Action
  • Drastic Action

    Spokane among seven school districts sued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction; plus, trio of police-chief finalists are in town
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap

Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Wednesday of every month

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Chef Boy Ari

  • Bock, Bock From Brazil

    This is Chef Boy Ari, reporting from Brazil. Specifically, I'm reporting from a hammock, surrounded by the sounds of singing voices, and the sound of rain falling on the tin roof of a house in the middle of the jungle in the coastal hills
    • Feb 3, 2005
  • Tailgating 101

    It's game day, and you're ready to party. You've got beer, ice, potato chips, folding chairs, tunes and a pigskin to toss with your buds. Your T-shirt announces your favorite team. But perhaps it makes you dimly uneasy that the entire pa
    • Nov 18, 2004
  • Sandwich Generation

    Two years ago this August, a friend came over with a bucket of apricots gleaned from an undisclosed tree. Last week, the spicy chutney we made from those apricots propelled a culinary trajectory that culminated in a sandwich. But this sto
    • Jul 29, 2004
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone



election 2016

trail mix

Readers also liked…

  • Manufacturing Fear
  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • The Selfie Generation
  • The Selfie Generation

    Ambitious and independent, we millennials are defined by no one but ourselves. Now please love us
    • Dec 3, 2014

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation