Tuesday, September 6, 2011

green smoothie

green smoothie
while we all hold on
(for dear life, sometimes)
to who we are,
i think it's fair to say we become products
of our environment. for me, that means a lot
of things - like lately, my (slight)
obsession with green smoothies.

i had never heard of green smoothies -
much less imagined myself drinking, craving
and researching twists on them - before about
a year and a half ago. one of my coworkers brought
in a smoothie everyday, filled with lots of visible
kale. other people started drinking them. a lot
of people started talking about them. and i kept
thinking, one day, i'll get up the nerve to make one.

i kept it in my head for over a year.
people still drank them, but they didn't talk about
them quite as much. then, in april, i switched jobs
and boom: green smoothies. in my face. all the time.
again. ok, i will make them.
but, i didn't.

until one day, in the middle of may,
i realized that i had almost all of the ingredients
in the house for this one, the smoothie i'm
most commonly faced with. i prepped everything
the night before - i chopped kale, measured spinach,
diced strawberries and sliced dates, even sprinkling
some flax seed in for good measure. the next morning,
i blended the whole thing with a ripe banana and
coconut water, the only acceptable beverage in the house,
and blended. the results were faintly flecked, but overall,
smooth. the mixture, like everyone said,
tasted like bananas. it was pretty good.

for the next few weeks, we set up shop every night.
after dinner, larry would try to clean the kitchen,
and i, as i am apt to do -
stemming kale, hulling strawberries - would
recreate a mess next to him.
the next morning, when larry got up for work,
he would pour a couple cups of coconut milk
(which we found we liked better than the coconut
water when not using a crazy ripe banana) into
the container, add a banana and blend for 2 minutes
before dividing amongst our shiny new smoothie cups.
(mine's the orange!)
his would leave with him. mine would go in the fridge,
ready and waiting for me to fly downstairs, always one
minute later than my 7:20 deadline, and grab it out
of the fridge. it was great - i loved my breakfast,
i felt good about my breakfast and larry was into it, too.

but, then, as i am also apt to do, i got bored.
i wanted to try new things.
so i played around - trying almond milk,
blueberries, mixed berries, no kale, no spinach,
adding ice cubes and more.
i learned this: mixed berries have never been my thing.
but, also, this: i love green smoothies. love 'em.

there aren't many i haven't liked.
but, there's one that has stood out as my favorite.
the one that i wish i could drink every day.
but, i don't because, for many reasons,
it's more of a special
occasion green smoothie.
i can't believe i just wrote that.
apple, cubed
this one
doesn't have kale or bananas.
it sometimes uses dates, sometimes agave.
when they're in the house, i add blueberries.
lately, i've been tossing in cubes of melon.
here's what it always features:
baby spinach
an apple or a pear
a couple splashes of almond milk
ice cubes
and a generous half of an avocado.
melon, spinach
i haven't been able to decide if i like
apples better than pears. i'm sad that i
discovered the delicious addition of melon
so close to the end of melon season. i'm
very happy that i realized i only need a small
amount of almond milk - just enough to blend
the mess into a cohesive frosty drink - to make
me happy. but, i've made one decision, that i haven't
wavered from since beginning.

i don't measure.
i can't.
early in the morning,
when i need to leave for work and i've
sacrificed my hair time for smoothie time,
the last thing i want to deal with
are measuring cups. honestly,
it annoys me that i have to deal with
a knife and a cutting board. and, by now, i've
gotten pretty good at making a smoothie
that tastes pretty much the same every day.
almond milk, spinach, apple, melon, avocado, ice
so, here's what i do. approximately.
i start by placing a huge handful of
baby spinach in the container.
this fills up about half the blender.
then, i large chop an unpeeled apple* or pear,
using all of a small piece of fruit,
or three-quarters of a large piece.
that goes into the blender, too,
pressing down on the spinach.
then, i add about ten cubes of melon,
or a small handful of blueberries.
i spoon in a generous half of ripe avocado**
(and, by this i mean, that when i "halve" the fruit,
i make sure to cut a bigger section for the smoothie)
then, i drizzle in a squeeze or two of agave
(or three chopped pitted dates).
i add two or three splashes of almond milk,
just enough so that i can see about 1/3-inch
of milk on the bottom of the blender.
and, then, before setting the blender to puree,
i top everything with two small
handfuls of large ice cubes.

usually it takes a good 20-30 seconds for
the mixture to start blending. if things don't start
to take shape at that point, i turn the blender off and shake
the container a couple times. if that still doesn't
help everything mix together, i add a little bit
more almond milk. and once everything is combining,
i let the blender run for at least a minute or two, or until
everything is cohesive and smooth.
on the rare days that i've gotten it together
to make my smoothie before i start getting ready,
i've learned that, surprisingly, this mixture
keeps - covered and in the fridge - for at least
a couple hours.

and that's it.
it's green.
it's satisfying.
it makes people ask questions.
(what are you drinking? why are you drinking that?
spinach? avocado? did you lose a bet?)
but, mostly. it makes me immensely happy.***

*you may notice that the apple i used on the day i took pictures was a granny smith. they looked really shiny and beautiful in the store, but i don't recommend using them. they make the smoothies more tart that i like and it would take quite a bit of sweetener to balance it all out.

**don't get me wrong. a fair half of an avocado makes a really good smoothie. but, using a little more than half ensures that the entire thing tastes faintly of avocado. and in my opinion, what's the point of using a good, but expensive and fatty fruit if you're not going to be able to taste it?

***on friday, i made three smoothies - one for me and one for each of my sisters - as a road trip "treat" to drink on the way to our grandmother's house. they drank theirs, but i'm not sure they'd be able to say that these smoothies made them immensely happy. one of my sisters said it took her three sips to realize she liked it, but she came around. i do think they'd say they like them just fine.

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