Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie with Spinach: An Elastic Recipe Approach

http://greenlitebites.com/2011/03/31/strawberry-kiwi-smoothie-with-spinach-an-elastic-recipe-approach/
20110330_kiwismoothie5

A few weeks ago I received this email from Adrianna…

On a blog called Simplifried she shares what she calls ‘elastic’ recipes – basically she explains the structure of a ‘thing’ (like a frittata) so that one can understand ‘how’ a recipe is made and then make endless variations. I’m not the best cook so this has been remarkably helpful to me. Would you be willing to do that for smoothies?  I don’t understand how a smoothie goes together (when is a fruit sweet enough and when do you need to add a sweetener; is yogurt for texture or some other purpose; is ice for the liquid or the cold?).  I’m still at the stage where I don’t like a lot of foods – would like to experiment with smoothies but I don’t ‘understand’ them.  You always explain things in such a clear, rational way.  Please???

Well, Adrianna, since you asked so nicely I’ll be happy too.

I need to start this post by letting you know I’m an experimenter by nature. I don’t believe there is a “right” way to prepare food. If it works for you, it works. I truly believe if more people adopted this attitude, more people would cook and experiment at home.

If you take a look at all my smoothie ideas you’ll see a bit of progression. Early ones, like my Quick Strawberry Banana Smoothie, used containers of flavored yogurt mixed with fruit. Simple, easy and tasty. More recently I’ve moved to adding greens and reducing the need for artificial sweeteners–like in the Clementine Green Smoothie that uses nothing but fruit and ups the nutritional content by adding spinach which surprisingly does NOT change the taste at all.

I can not emphasis enough that there is no “right” way to make a smoothie. Here’s my overall approach and thoughts on the base ingredients.

Elastic Smoothie

Fruit
The majority of my smoothies are fruit based. I normally use a combination of fresh and frozen. When using frozen it reduces the need for ice while making it easy to keep smoothie ingredients in stock without the fear of them going bad. I keep frozen strawberries, blueberries, and mango on hand as much as possible. Fresh bananas add a fabulous texture and any other fresh fruits can be added to taste. I’ve done melons, grapes, kiwis, oranges, pears, and apples. Anything works.
Liquid
You generally need to cover the fruit 2/3 of the way with liquid. This liquid could be milk (any kind), juice, water or even brewed flavored teas for a twist. The liquid is needed to blend the ingredients properly but depending on what you use it can help sweeten the smoothie as well.
Ice
If you aren’t using frozen fruit, adding at least 5 ice cubes is needed for the cold smoothie taste and texture. I find it easier to blend the fruit with the liquid first, then re-blend adding the ice cubes.
Vegetables
Adding greens is fairly new to me but what I’ve discovered is a few cups of spinach can easily be added to any smoothie with out changing the taste. It really only affects color. This is a great way to boost nutritional value if you can get over the color change. I’d recommend mastering a few fruit only smoothies first and then experimenting with baby spinach and kale.
Sweeteners
Adding a little sugar, honey, agave, or an artificial sweetener may be necessary especially if your fruit isn’t ripe enough. You can also sweeten by adding a dried date or a handful of raisins. Using overripe bananas also helps. I’ll purposefully buy extra bananas, let them get nice and ripe and then freeze them in chunks to add to my smoothies or to make this. ;) I would recommend making the smoothie without any additional sweetener, then taste and add as necessary.
Other Optional Additions
Yogurt can add a great creamy texture while upping the protein content. You could also use a good unflavored protein powder. I normally don’t do this but I know others who add flax seeds, oatmeal and other healthy ingredients to up the nutritional content.

Using your blender or Magic Bullet add all your ingredients making sure that there is enough liquid to cover at least 2/3 of the ingredients if not more. Strawberry Kiwi SmoothieEven with that amount of liquid you may need to “work” the blender by stopping and stirring manually. If using the magic bullet you can simply shake the cup working the ingredients towards the blades.

Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie

Here’s an example smoothie I made yesterday for an after school snack.

  • 3 cups baby spinach (64g)
  • 2/3 cup froze strawberries (140g)
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 3/4 cups of water

I couldn’t fit all the ingredients in the bullet so I did it in stages. Note: I was too lazy to pull out the big blender.

Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie - ingredients

Add the spinach, 1/2 of the strawberries, kiwis, and water to the bullet.

Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie - step 1

Blend until smooth then add the remaining strawberries and sweetener if necessary. (Note: this batch of frozen strawberries were very disappointing)

Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie - step 2

Blend again until smooth

Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie - step 2

Add a fun garnish (I’m finding this is helping with the color issue for the kid) and serve.

Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie - drink!

This smoothie was born because I happen to have kiwis. The strawberries I have in stock aren’t too sweet so I added a bit of sugar to help combat the bland taste. I find the best smoothie approach is using what I have on hand. I do try to keep frozen berries in the freezer and and bag of spinach in the fridge. Everything else I use is a reaction to what I have in stock, what’s about to go bad and/or having fun with flavors.

Please don’t fear the smoothie. It’s nothing more than blended fruit. You really can’t go wrong. Have FUN with it. :)

Click here to see all my smoothie ideas.

16 comments »»
Posted in: Beverage Ideas, Green Smoothies, Just Tips, Smoothie Ideas
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16 Comments and 0 Replies

  1. Mo

    Roni,
    I’ve been making smoothies for a snack and would like to start having them for breakfast, but fear they won’t have enough staying power and that I’ll be hungry before I should be. I checked out the protein powder you listed. I’ve never used protein powders. How many scoops would you use? Would you use it in anything else?
    As always, thanks so much for all you do!
    Mo

  2. Robin

    Great question! I make the spinach smoothy every morning. I add liquid fish oil and a nice size hunk of ginger. The ginger gives it a tiny bit of a bite, but I love it. I was thinking of adding the protein powder to it but I know so little on the issue. Roni, I would love to hear your thoughts.

  3. roni

    1-2 scoops is usually a serving, depending on the powder. They normally come with a scooper too. I’ve also weighed out the gram amount that they consider a serving size so I can calculate the nutritional info. I must admit I love the Any Whey, it makes them REAL creamy!

  4. Sam

    Thanks for such an indepth and easy to understand response Roni! Especially with that new little one at home. My hat is off to you :0)

  5. mel

    I make green smoothies daily, and my goal in having them is more for the concept of getting in tons of greens in a predigested form (from blending), so that the nutrients start to get absorbed by your body almost immediately…I can feel myself almost instantly detoxing.I follow Kimberly snyders blog, and she is very big on green smoothies… it’s best to drink them on an empty stomach, so that other foods don’t interfere with the vitamin absorbtion, and also she recommends not adding melon, of any kind to the green smoothies… i think it’s from the way melon digests differently. I also don’t like to add a lot of sugars to mine so i use truvia. Personally i think you need to be careful to not throw in so many things, because if you aren’t mostly doing greens then i think the calories could add up…although healthy calories, most people may not be drinking the smoothies as a meal, and it could turn into a pretty high calorie snack. I also do believe not following a recipe, but using the concept as a guideline to find different combinations that work for your individual taste and nutritional goals.

  6. Kelly

    We try and go fresh fruit picking in the summer locally and we get WAAAAY more for the price than at the store and better flavor. So we freeze 3/4 of what we pick for smoothies and the winter time. Its much more convenient and affordable, plus you get a nice day trip out of it.

  7. Rose

    Still can’t get over the fact that this smoothie is brown! I know it’s because you don’t peel the kiwi (need to go through your archives and figure that one out), but brown? Kinda looks like mud. But I guess I need to get over it. LOL

  8. roni

    actually it’s brown becuase of the green spinach mixed with the red strawberries. I DID peel them. I didn’t think the “fur” would blend well. lol

    But you are right.. getting over the color is half the battle with adding greens to smoothies.

  9. TheGourmetCoffeeGuy

    Liked your explanation about the concept of “elastic recipes” very much. Most of us use this concept regularly, just don’t call it that. My family enjoys smoothies as a meal replacement and we use many of the ingredients you recommend. However, we have never used fresh spinach in a smoothie so your post is of great interest to us because we love eating spinach. Your recipe will give us a new way of eating spinach.
    Thank you for the photos and detailed post explanations, will definitely try this recipe.

  10. Adrianna

    That’s exactly what I wanted! I understand your point about experimenting – but I’ve experimented in the past and had to throw it out (yuck!). Now that I understand the structure of a smoothie, I am much more likely to be successful and be more willing to experiment. Thanks so much for taking the time to explain it.

  11. Mama Amanda

    Ooh, great post! Love the “elastic recipe”.
    I use a blendtec for our smoothies – it seems like too much work to do it in sections! I love being able to throw it all in the blender, hitting the button and drinking it up. I use spinach in mine often and I find that using some frozen blueberries gets it to a more appealing color. :)

  12. Kassie

    Roni, I love this post! I have felt the same way as Adrianna, not knowing where to start, what to put into my smoothie, etc. This post makes it easy-peasy to put together something tasty! Just got a new blender, and looking forward to using your elastic recipe to try out some smoothies in it! Keeping this post bookmarked for sure. :) THANKS!!

  13. Kassie

    Roni, Wanted to let you know your posts continue to inspire! Decided that lunch today would be a protein powder shake, but wanted to add some additional healthy fruits/veggies. I remembered your GREEN shakes and added in some spinach, a quarter cup frozen banana, half cup blueberries and 3 frozen strawberries. YUM!! I think I need to use my immersion blender a little longer with the spinach addition so I don’t get any leafy chunks.
    Thanks for mixing things up with your recipes and inspiring us to have FUN with nutrition!! :)
    -Kassie
    (Now wishing I’d used green tea instead of plain water. Next time!)

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