Patrick Swayze had three rules to defend the Double Deuce against knife-wielding no-goodniks in the film “Roadhouse,” but blending a rich, creamy, bright-colored smoothie requires more than just three rules. I spoke to the experts at Be Well Juice Bar, The Mighty Bowl, Thatcher’s Coffee and Funky Fresh Juice Co. for assistance in my quest to make a better smoothie at home.
Use high-quality, real food. Steve Valenta, owner of The Mighty Bowl, said, “The secret is that real food tastes amazing.” Real food means whole, single-ingredient, unprocessed food — things that grow out of the soil, not created in a laboratory or factory. Valenta uses whole fruit such as dates to sweeten the smoothies at The Mighty Bowl.
Te’ana Conley of Thatcher’s Coffee sent an ingredient list for each of Thatcher’s plant-based smoothies and said, “This is literally everything that we add to each smoothie — no added ice, water, sugar or anything else!” The recipes simply contained fruit, vegetables, rice milk, nut butter, cacao powder and cinnamon.
Use frozen produce. Frozen fruit and vegetables create a thick, rich consistency without watering the smoothie down with ice. It’s also good to freeze produce while it’s at its peak. Fresh produce goes bad quickly. If you don’t want to waste it, freeze it before it goes bad and pop it into your smoothie.
Prep ingredients so they blend easily. Remove the leaves from the stems on leafy greens such as kale and chard. The stems won’t break down in the blender.
Get the right ratio. Mira Alexander, co-owner of Funky Fresh Juice Co., said an ideal smoothie has a ratio of one part liquid to two parts solids. Her business partner, Beka Trigg, cautioned, “It’s not an exact science.”
Finesse it. Trigg also said, “Making smoothies and juice is an art. You have to finesse it sometimes. Blending it one more time might help with consistency.” It’s good to turn off the blender, take it off the stand, give it a little shake and then test the consistency. Treat smoothie making like cooking: Taste it and adjust flavors to get the right flavor balance and texture.
Get creative. Trigg recommends adding cacao powder and maca to give added flavors, texture and nutrients. Thatcher’s Summer Greens smoothie takes a cue from cocktail culture by using fresh basil and fresh-squeezed lime juice. Fresh mint and ginger are other good additions. Basically, if it would taste good with vodka in it, it will make a refreshing smoothie.
Explore your spice drawer. Cinnamon tastes good with greens such as kale or chard. Cayenne gives it some kick. Ground cardamom adds an earthy, slightly spicy flavor. You can also pour in coffee mixed with a bit of nut milk. Playing with different ingredients adds layers of flavor and complexity.
Using these tips, I made a luscious, flavorful smoothie at home — a vast improvement over the murky swamp water that previously poured out of my blender.
Rachel Pinsky can be emailed at email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @couveeats.
If You Go
What: The Mighty Bowl.
Where: 108 W. Eighth St., Vancouver.
Hours: Smoothie, juice and breakfast bar: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; bowls, salads and burritos, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
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What: Funky Fresh Juice Co. (mobile truck).
Hours and locations: FunkyFreshJuice.com
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What: Thatcher’s Coffee.
Where: 104 Grand Blvd., Suite 100, Vancouver.
Contact: 360-258-0571 or ThatchersCoffee.com
Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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What: Be Well Juice Bar.
Where: 1012 Washington St., Vancouver.
Contact: 360-726-5135 or BeWellJuiceBar.com
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.