Many of the nutrients found in fruit and vegetables help the body to get rid of toxins, which can help with a clearer complexion, healthier hair and stronger nails. Power blends fit into busy lives and make it easy to get the recommended daily five to seven portions of fruit and vegetables, containing all the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Power blending in a high-speed blender, whether it’s a Nutribullet, Nutri Ninja, Breville, Kitchenaid, Magimix, Vita, Vitamix or Kenwood, releases these nutrients while retaining fibre and allows your body to utilise them easily, ensuring optimum nutrition. Fibre is not only important for a healthy digestion, but helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and aids cardiovascular health. Commercially made blends and smoothies are convenient but often contain added water, flavourings, preservatives and sweeteners and some are heat-treated to prolong their shelf life. Nothing beats the flavour and freshness of making your own smoothies, along with the reassurance of knowing exactly what it contains and being able to adjust the ingredients to your own personal taste. In her book Power Blends and Smoothies, Catherine Atkinson, shows how to make 150 blends and smoothies to improve health and help with exercise and weight loss. Here Catherine shares her top tips for power blending.
- Use organic fruit and vegetables where possible in your high-speed blender
Wash fresh produce before blending and peel non-organic vegetables, such as carrots. Choose and use fresh fruit and vegetables at their peak when fully ripe. Store carefully and don’t be tempted to blend over-ripe or bruised fruit; it will spoil the smoothie and lack nutrients.
- Roughly chop bulky ingredients before blending in your power blender
When preparing smoothies with bulky ingredients, such as melon and fresh greens, it can be difficult to fit them all in. Roughly chop before adding ingredients to the blender cup, and when you reach the maximum level blend briefly to reduce the volume, then add the remaining ingredients and blend again.
- Start with small amounts of ingredients like spirulina, chlorella or wheatgrass
Some of the more potent vegetable blends containing spirulina, chlorella or wheatgrass can take a bit of getting used to. The first time you make smoothies with these ingredients, add a little less than the recipe suggests and sip slowly. Gradually build up the amount each time you make the smoothie. Always check the information on packets for the optimal and maximum ‘dosage’, as it may differ slightly between brands; this is usually around 10–15ml (2–3 tsp) a day.
- Be careful when adding ice to your blender
Many power blenders cope well with ice cubes; others do not, and adding ice may blunt the blades. Whether you have a Nutribullet, Nutri Ninja, Breville, Kitchenaid, Magimix, Vita, Vitamix or Kenwood power blender check the manufacturer’s instructions and if yours will grind ice, you can use this instead of some or all of the water or other liquid. To get your measurements right, put the ice in a measuring jug and pour over the liquid you are using until it reaches the volume stated in the recipe.
- Dilute to taste . . .
Some fruits and vegetables produce very thick blends and you may prefer to dilute them by adding a little more milk or complementary fruit juice. If the blend is well flavoured, dilute with a little water or add a few ice cubes to the glass.
- . . . or use banana, avocado or Greek yogurt to thicken to taste
If, after blending, you feel your smoothie is too thin, add a complementary fruit or vegetable to thicken the mixture; good thickening choices include bananas and avocados. Alternatively, try 5–10ml (1–2 tsp) of lecithin granules or a large spoonful of Greek yogurt.
- Use lime or lemon juice or even salt or dried chillies to combat blandness
If your blend is a bit bland for your tastes, a dash of lime or lemon juice can really bring out the flavour, especially with tropical and berry fruits. You can also add salt (if you are not on a low-salt diet) and pepper to savoury vegetable blends, or a pinch of dried red chillies or your favourite herbs or spices.
- Use a sieve to make very fibrous smoothies smoother
Some ingredients, such as pineapple and fresh coconut, make very fibrous smoothies; if preferred, pour your finished smoothie through a fine or medium sieve, which will allow some of the smaller fibres to go through, but remove larger ones. To extract a little more juice, return the fibres in the sieve to the blender with a tiny amount of water and blend then sieve again.
- Keep peeled and finely grated ginger in ice cube trays
Some of the recipes here contain freshly grated ginger. Rather than preparing a piece of fresh ginger each time, peel, then finely grate a large piece of fresh ginger and freeze in ice cube trays, filling some to the top and half filling others. When frozen, turn out and store in a small freezer bag. Half-cubes will be the equivalent of 2.5ml (½ tsp), filled ones, 5ml (1 tsp). The cubes can be added to the blender while still frozen and will help to cool the blend.