Saturday, August 03, 2013

Healthful Spinach Smoothie

As I promised in the last post, here's the recipe I promised.  First things first, fret not, as I have told you earlier, I'm not going to convert this blog into a store house of cooking recipes, people have already done wonderful job all around the blogsphere.
But in my quest to improve my eating habits, I will share a few health-filled recipes once in a while.
Making this Spinach Smoothie (Palak Smoothie) is so astoundingly easy and simple, that it really defies the commonly held belief that you have to spend hours in order to cook a healthy meal(*conditions apply!).  Not to mention it would be outrightly criminal NOT to make this regularly!

This is enough to make about 3-4 glasses of smoothie, scale it per your needs:
  1. Banana - 2
  2. Pineapple - 1/4th
  3. Slice of Whole Lemon - 1
  4. Spinach - approx. 3 handfuls
  5. Peeled Oranges - 2
  6. Papaya - 1/4th
  7. Condiments: Black Pepper
  8. Optional: Almost any fruit you want, esp. berries, avocado, Cinnamon, Honey
  9. Water, to get the consistency you prefer
If you don't want to read rest of the boring interesting commentary, then here's your skipping-to-the-best-part...
Quick Recipe: Grind them (0-5) all together, sprinkle freshly ground pepper and top it off with a mint leaf!

If you have time, patience and zest to endure my boring (but not totally useless) commentary, then here you go...
The key idea here is gathering the ingredients, once you have them, it is just a matter of putting them in the mixer and making a smoothie out of it, there's not too much more to it.  But if there's one thing I want to point out is, do not skip on the
slice of a whole-lemon, the lemon's grind (thick outer skin) is what gives this smoothie its unique deep flavor.  If you don't have one handy, DO NOT expect spectacular results when you substitute it for that lowly chemical-laden lemon juice from your fridge.  I recommend running out to the nearest grocery store, instead and picking one up (note that running will also up your appetite for a healthful drink!).  My 3-handfuls of spinach measurement is approximate, keep adding till you get nice vibrant green color.

The trick is to grind all of these properly, putting Spinach in first will make the mixer's motor run on near-zero-load with leaves sitting there almost undisturbed!  Don't curse me when this happens, because it means you haven't read the full post ;-) Luckily for you, you will almost instantly start getting the burning smell, so you'll know something's amiss!  (Note that I have a very cheap 4 year old mixer, so I have to be creative how I grind things in it; chances are you might have better luck with yours, or coincidentally, have a cheapo one like mine!).  Always put juicy fruits first, the juice helps form the base of the smoothie, a thick paste.

Once ready, top it off with freshly ground pepper and a flavorful mint leaf!  That all there is to it!

You can experiment the base recipe in many many ways, the above is a good reference of what all goes into this smoothie, a good starting point, be creative with what you can add.  Like avocado, papaya and black-pepper are my own personal touch to this recipe.
If you want to keep this healthy, then there are a few things I strongly recommend against adding.  Also, unless you want your smoothie to taste like a slush, I recommend keeping ice out too.
Things to keep out of your smoothie: sugar (NO NO NO additional sugar or sweetener is needed, for christ's sake banana and pineapple bring enough sugar already), milk (doesn't go well with citrus fruits), Strawberries (will conflict with pineapple and citrus flavor).

If you have all the ingredients ready(*), it doesn't take more than a minute to whip a glassful of this smoothie, including cleaning time.  Use fresh ingredients, especially spinach leaves, frozen spinach will not get you anywhere close to what fresh ones can achieve.  I'm willing to bet it will not even taste like a smoothie.  I generally chop the fruits over the weekend and keep them in the refrigerator, that way I don't have to spend too much time gathering all the ingredients whenever I want to make a glassful. Chopping pineapple, especially, is a bit time consuming a task best reserved for weekend.
More Tips:
  1. Bananas
  2. Another trick I have picked up for making great smoothies over the period is using frozen bananas. I have had to throw away a lot many bananas for not eating them before they went black and rancid. So now I just peel all the bananas, put them in a nice ziplock bag and put them in deep freezer! They will stay there for at least a month, but I consume them within a week's time. This also means you will never have to use ice in your smoothie again!
  3. Leftovers
  4. Make sure you don't make too much, this tastes best when made fresh. But if you have leftover, then just put the smoothie in a nice air-tight mason jar, it will last for 3 or so days in the fridge.  Spinach is rich in iron, so naturally it will turn a tad dark, don't be scared, it will still be good for consumption.