I was in a mall the other day (I still don’t know why) when we passed by a smoothies bar.
“Oh, look,” my shopping companion effused. “Smoothies! I love smoothies!”
So do I actually, but fortunately I (and you) don’t have to depend upon a trip to the mall to get one. Fruit, ice, liquid, sweetener, peanut butter, cocoa, vanilla and a decent blender are all you need to create your own customized, inexpensive, healthy concoctions, and your creativity is limited only by the contents of your cupboard.
I use an ancient Vitamix passed on from my mother-in-law, and the beauty of these kitchen tanks is that they puree/frappe/masticate/liquidate pretty much anything because their motor is so powerful; a cheap box store model may not like chugging at ice cubes, so if you’ve got something cheap, go slowly, and use ice that’s as crushed and small as you can get it.
During the warm months when the goats are producing lots of milk, the Norwegian Artist and I live on lunches of smoothies — made with milk, they’re a great source of protein, and when we toss in fruit, they pack in that much more nutrition.
Oh, and by the way, I post recipes for fast, easy, healthy, inexpensive food every Tuesday. Join me. And catch up on what you missed in my Recipes section.
Recipe: Peanut Butter Smoothies
2-3 cups ice cubes (I use the 16 blocks from a plastic ice cube tray, but remember what I said about cheaper blender models and the limitations of their motors)
2 cups milk
1/3 cup peanut butter (I use the natural kind, you know, the one you have to stir because the oil separates out)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ripe banana (optional)
1-2 Tablespoons chocolate chips, chopped, for garnish (optional)
Dump everything but the chocolate chips into the blender and turn the
thing on. If the mixture gets too thick, you may have to use a tamper tool, which for the Vitamix is designed to stir stuff around without hitting the running blades. With a regular blender, you may just have to turn the machine off, make sure the blades are still, and then stir the contents.
Keep blending until all the ice cubes have been obliterated and the entire mixture is smooth. Sometimes little chunks of bananas show up as surprise textural elements, which really grosses out Tired of Being Youngest, but if this is the case, just blend longer.
If you’ve got a cheap blender, listen to the motor. If it sounds strained or if it stops altogether (there should be a re-set button somewhere on the appliance), add more liquid and make the mixture less thick.
Pour the mixture into glasses (it makes 3-4 cups), and sprinkle chocolate chips atop.
Most of the stuff you buy at a mall food court, you can make at home — yeah, even cinnamon rolls — and once you get into doing this, you may find you prefer what you make at home: you know what’s in it, and it’s a lot cheaper doing it yourself. This is all part of my mantra: learn to cook. It’s the most practical hobby you can ever pick up.
And hobbies, oddly enough, are an element to saving money — learning to live on the resources you have — which is the theme of my book, Live Happily on Less. We’re all feeling the economic squeeze these days, but the answer doesn’t have to be a second, or third, job. Buy my book. I’ll walk you through realistic, sustainable ways of using what you’ve already got.
“There is something here for anyone wanting to live well on less and then do more of those things they enjoy.” — Amazon Reader Review