Ah… smoothies. What’s not to love about those frosty fruity drinks? Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a lover of all smoothies. It all started with my childhood addiction to Orange Juliuses, which were all the rage (at least in my childhood Southern California bedroom community) when I was a kid. I think they started to become really popular after they were the official drink of the World’s Fair in 1964. By this time, the health food craze was catching on in the United States and smoothies were the drink of choice for that burgeoning market. Plus, on a warm day, an icy beverage really hit the spot.

For those of you who haven’t experienced a smoothie, it’s a general term for an icy fruit drink that is blended. They almost always include some sort of fruit and then after that, the sky’s the limit. You can add yogurt, juice, ice, protein powder, dairy creamer, frozen yogurt, soy milk, regular milk, or whatever you like (within reason).

In college, I sort of forgot about smoothies, preferring frozen margaritas and daiquiris instead for my frosty fruit fix. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when my daughters started asking to go to Jamba Juice, that I rediscovered the smoothie. Whenever we’re in the vicinity of one of these shops, my daughters beg to go. This was okay for a while, but after spending almost $20 every time we walked into one of these franchises — and wondering how three smoothies could cost so much — I decided to break out my blender and start making them at home.

After many rounds with the blender, I’ve found that there are a few keys to making a great home smoothie:

1. Use frozen fruit: Although it’s tempting to use fresh fruit, especially when it’s in season, frozen fruit will give your smoothie a natural frosty texture. This is usually better than the consistency you will achieve if you use ice, which has a tendency to break into inconsistent pieces, sometimes leaving larger chunks behind. Also, frozen fruit creates a creamier texture than blended ice.

2. Use Small Pieces of Ice: Some recipes simply need ice. When this is the case, try to use small pieces, or, even better, crushed ice if possible.

3. Sweeten with honey: Sometimes berries can be a little tart. If your smoothie has too much zing, just plop it back into the blender and add a tablespoon of honey to sweeten it up.

4. Add more liquid to fix a clogged blender: Sometimes when making a smoothie, the blades on the blender will fruitlessly (excuse the pun) whirl around, without actually mixing the smoothie. This happens when the smoothie doesn’t have enough liquid. Just add small amounts of juice until the smoothie mixes properly.

Here are a few smoothie recipes that I’ve come up with. The first is for one that my daughters and I love. Plain yogurt provides the creaminess, along with an extra dose of calcium into our daily diets. In this recipe, I almost always use frozen berries. With each sip providing a burst of berry flavor as well as a load of antioxidants, the berries are the real star here.

I have also recently come to enjoy dairy-free smoothies. One of my favorites is the ultimate in simplicity. Made only with frozen mango chunks, a half a banana to add body, and orange juice to help it blend, the taste is all about the mango. What’s remarkable about this smoothie is how creamy it is, even without any dairy.

My new favorite smoothie, however, is a lactose-free chocolate and almond smoothie. Yes, I do realize that this one doesn’t include a lot of fruit, but the combination of the banana with the soy vanilla ice cream, along with almond butter, chocolate syrup, and either Almond Dream or soy milk is truly lip smacking.

Finally, I’ve recreated a version of the Orange Julius drink from my childhood. I really have no idea what they put in those drinks when I was a kid, although some web sites claim it had orange juice, powdered sugar and dairy creamer. In my version, I used two seedless tangerines, nonfat milk, orange juice, honey and ice. I made the drink and it definitely reminded me of the Orange Juliuses I drank as a kid, although I have to say that it has lost most of its appeal.

Smoothies are fast to make. Even better, they’re portable: just pour them into a plastic cup or bottle and have breakfast or lunch on the go.

Berry and Yogurt Smoothie
Serves 2 medium smoothies

1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup frozen berries (cherries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
1 cup orange juice
1 whole medium banana
1 Tbsp honey

1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
2. Mix on high for one to two minutes, or until everything is smooth and you don’t have any large ice chunks.
3. Serve.

Mango Infusion
Serves 2 medium smoothies

1 heaping cup of frozen mango chunks
½ medium banana (frozen or room temperature)
1 cup orange juice

1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
2. Mix on high for one or two minutes, or until everything is smooth.
3. Serve.

Vegan Almond, Banana, and Chocolate Smoothie
Serves 2 medium smoothies

2 large scoops Soy Vanilla Ice Cream
1 medium Banana (preferably frozen)
1 cup Almond Dream, Soy Milk, or Rice Milk
2 Tbsp unsalted almond butter (crunchy or smooth)
2 Tbsp chocolate syrup

1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
2. Mix on high for one to two minutes, or until everything is smooth and you don’t have any large ice chunks.
3. Serve.

Orange Smoothie of my Childhood
Serves 2 medium smoothies

2 seedless tangeines
½ cup nonfat milk
½ cup orange juice
1 Tbsp honey

1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
2. Mix on high for one to two minutes, or until everything is smooth and you don’t have any large ice chunks.
3. Serve.

Smoothie A Go Go 9 April,2008Denise Santoro Lincoln

  • Christian

    I love smoothies but consider ice cream, yogurt, and sweeteners to be optional.

    My favorite smoothie recipes are really simple: frozen bananas and/or berries, juice, and maybe some spirulina.

    Another great recipe found at street vendors all over mexico is simply bananas and orange juiced (usually fresh), with the addition an optional raw egg.

    I also love smoothies with almond milk, cacao nibs or cocoa powder, and frozen bananas or dates.

  • Denise Lincoln

    That Mexican smoothie sounds really interesting. How does it taste with the raw egg? Also, the last smoothie you mention sounds sort of like the chocolate almond one I list. I’ll have to try adding dates to it as I love them. Thank for the great idea!



Denise Santoro Lincoln

I am a writer, editor, mother of twins, and enthusiastic home cook. I was raised by an Italian-American mother who, in the 1970s, grew her own basil (because she couldn’t find any in the local grocery stores), zucchini (for those delicious flowers), and tomatoes (because the ones in the store tasted like “a potato”). My mom taught us to love all kinds of food and revere high-quality ingredients. I am now trying to follow in my mother’s footsteps and am on a mission to help my daughters become adventurous eaters who have a healthy respect for seasonal food raised locally. My daughters and I grow vegetables and go to the farmers’ market. We also love to shop at Piedmont Grocery and Trader Joe’s. When I’m not hanging out with my daughters or cooking, I like to contribute to cookbooks (including Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast and Foods of the World series), work as an editor, and write about food for Bay Area Bites and Denise's Kitchen. My food inspirations are M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child, and Alice Waters — three fabulous women who encompass everything I love about food.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor