[Originally published in Manila Standard Today on April 8, 2009]
It was cool and cloudy for a few days last week and I was fervently hoping that it would stay that way for the rest of the summer. But, alas! Some good things never last. Sunday was humid as humid could be and all I could think of was ice cold drinks. No, not soft drinks. Soft drinks aren’t allowed in our house unless we have guests who can’t eat their food without downing it with soft drinks. What we consume in great quantities are fruit juices and smoothies.
What’s a smoothie? According to my iMac’s dictionary, a smoothie is “a thick, smooth drink of fresh fruit pureed with milk, yogurt, or ice cream.” If it is made with ice cream, it’s a milkshake.
Is a smoothie the same as a slushy? No, it isn’t. According to Wikipedia, slush or slushy is “a generic term for a flavored frozen drink. In general, slush drinks are made by freezing a sugared liquid while constantly stirring it. The sugar and motion prevent the formation of large ice crystals, while the overrun process mixes in air, creating a smooth slush.” There are machines for making slushies.
Smoothies and slushies differ from granita which is a semi-frozen dessert related to sorbet. Moreover, a granita is not drank from a glass but is eaten with a dessert spoon.
At home, what we make are smoothies. We always have a variety of fresh fruits so it’s just a matter of peeling and cutting the fruits, throwing them in the blender with ice and sugar and we have our smoothies. Here are some of my favorites.
Mango and melon smoothie
Cut two ripe mangoes; discard the stones. Scoop out the flesh and put in the blender. Take a quarter of a melon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Scoop out the flesh, cut into smaller pieces and add to the mangoes in the blender. Add two cups of crushed ice, a cup of water (or milk), sugar to taste and process until smooth. Makes four glasses of smoothie.
Trim the tops of 250 grams of ripe strawberries. Put in the blender. Pour in two cups of milk and two cups of crushed ice. Add sugar to taste. Process until smooth. Makes four glasses.
Variation: Instead of milk and crushed ice, substitute four cups of semi frozen coconut water. Add sugar to taste and process until smooth.
Cucumber and coconut smoothie
Before you say that cucumber is not a fruit so this doesn’t fit the definition of a smoothie, let me refer to the botanical definition of a fruit as the ripened ovary containing the seeds of a flowering plant. In fact, many vegetables we use for cooking are actually fruits. It’s just usage in cooking that classifies them as vegetables. That said, here’s how to make cucumber and coconut smoothie.
Peel two cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut the flesh into smaller pieces and put in the blender. Scoop out the meat of one coconut (“malakanin” texture is best) and add to the cucumbers. Add four cups of semi-frozen coconut water and sugar to taste. Process until smooth. Makes four glasses.
Variation: Instead of cucumbers, use half of a melon.
There are so many varieties of smoothies that you can make by just combining two or more fruits. And don’t forget the coconut and its water. With so many fruits available to us all year ’round, you can enjoy smoothies everyday.
N.B. If you’re curious about those cute splat coasters in the photo, check out House On A Hill for my entry on Human Touch.