Sweet and savory smoothies

Beat the heat with these tasty summertime treats.

Tess Masters explains perfect portions for spicy smoothie additions. (photo credit: YAKIR LEVY)
Tess Masters explains perfect portions for spicy smoothie additions.
(photo credit: YAKIR LEVY)
There’s a lot of conflicting information about health,” said Tess Masters at the recent presentation of her just-published book, The Blender Girl Smoothies , “but one thing that everybody agrees on is that vegetables are a boon to health. A smoothie is the quickest, easiest, most delicious way to get your daily dose of fruits and vegetables.”
Like sauce-making, preparing smoothies can be a creative process.
“The alchemy that is created between certain fruits and vegetables when you blend them,” she said, “is like nothing else; we cannot achieve that... with textured food.”
She enjoys experimenting, and her smoothies are full of surprises. “Ten years ago, when I discovered that blending strawberries with a bit of red bell pepper can send you to heaven with a smile on your face, it was the happiest day of my life.”
Another exciting discovery for her was when she realized that adding ¹⁄ 8 cup of dandelion greens to a two-portion smoothie containing coconut and pineapple “makes it taste like it’s got a nip of rum in it.”
In her smoothies, Masters uses spices and fresh herbs for their flavor as well as their health benefits. We tasted a delicious watermelon-strawberry melonade that was flavored with rosemary.
“If I hadn’t added the rosemary, it would have been kind of an also-ran smoothie, but the rosemary just elevates it, for my taste, to a divine dimension,” she said. (See recipe.) Masters flavors smoothies with fresh coriander, parsley, cloves and even curry powder. Other flavorings she likes for smoothies are rosewater, orange blossom water and herbal teas. To boost the nutritive value, she adds superfoods such as acai, goji berry and pomegranate powder.
We were surprised to learn that the watermelon smoothie had cauliflower in it. Nobody at the book party could taste it. Masters has a trick for adding the cauliflower: freezing it. Because our taste buds are temperature sensitive, she explained, you can put frozen vegetables into a smoothie pretty much undetected. She freezes the cauliflower raw, not cooked.
The pungency of leafy greens is diminished at cold temperatures, and therefore, said Masters, smoothies are great for hiding greens and other vegetables so that children and “greenophobe” adults will consume them. That’s why smoothies should be served extremely cold. With dandelion greens, fennel, beet greens and collard greens, which are assertive and taste earthy, “cold temperatures and ice are your best friends.”
She also uses turnip greens, parsnip greens and carrot greens in her smoothies. There was kale in her refreshing green mojito, which was flavored with lime juice and fresh mint, and we didn’t even notice it. (See recipe.) When you make a smoothie with assertive greens, drink it as soon as possible, or else their flavors will become stronger – or, as Masters put it, “the greens will take over the party.”
To make smoothies rich and creamy, you can use avocado, young coconut meat, raw cashews, blanched slivered almonds, or sunflower seeds. It’s best to soak nuts, seeds and other fibrous ingredients like dates, prunes and sun-dried tomatoes to get the smoothest texture. A smoothie can be a meal, and to make it more satiating, Masters adds a small amount of nutritious oil such as flax oil, hemp oil or coconut oil.
Not all smoothies are sweet. Masters makes savory ones like spicy gazpacho grab – which consists of tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, red onion, lime juice and avocado – and grapefruit-fennel fix, which also contains green apple, as well as lime juice and avocado. These are, in fact, cold soups.
At restaurants, she often finds that the smoothies are flat, extremely sweet and not satisfying. By adding a variety of flavorings, such as sea salt, ginger, cardamom, citrus zest, balsamic vinegar, and even onion, chilies and cayenne, she develops smoothies that take her “on a flavor journey much like a textured dish.” She cautions that with these flavorings, you should start small and add more to taste: “You can add grated orange zest, but you can’t take it back.”
One of her favorite smoothies is the pineapple salsa, in which pineapple is blended with spinach, red onion, cucumber, fresh coriander, jalapeño pepper, lime juice and zest. (See recipe.) Another of which she is particularly fond is made of pomegranate juice, orange, strawberries, sweet red pepper, arugula and avocado.
A popular smoothie at the presentation was one called raspberry lemon cheesecake. Masters, whose recipes are vegan and gluten-free, simulates the taste of cheesecake by adding cashews and lemon juice. (See recipe.) To get a brownie-flavored smoothie or one that tastes like a muffin, she blends raw cashews and a small amount of rolled oats.
“There is nothing I would not put in a smoothie,” she said. “I have even put kimchi [Korean fermented cabbage] in a smoothie – oh, yes, I have!”
■ The writer is the author of 30 Low-Fat Vegetarian Meals in 30 Minutes
“This exotic blend sips like a fancy cocktail, but skips the hefty bar tab,” writes Tess Masters. She emphasizes that watermelon is hydrating and rich in vitamin C and anti-inflammatory lycopenes.
Makes 2 servings
❖ 3 cups (480 gr. or 16.9 oz.) chopped seedless watermelon, chilled
❖ 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
❖ 1 lemon, peeled and seeded
❖ 1½ tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
❖ ½ cup (80 gr. or 2.8 oz.) frozen pineapple
❖ ¼ cup (80 gr. or 2.8 oz.) frozen strawberries
❖ 5 drops alcohol-free liquid stevia, plus more to taste (optional; see Note in recipe for green mojito) Optional boosters:
❖ ½ cup (60 gr. or 2.1 oz.) frozen raw cauliflower florets
❖ ½ tsp. cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
❖ ¼ tsp. finely chopped jalapeño chile
Throw all of the ingredients into your blender and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until well combined.
This beverage, inspired by the rum-flavored Cuban cocktail, is alcohol free. Masters calls it a “cold-and-flu buster and potent detoxifier.”
Makes 2 servings
❖ 1 cup (240 ml.) coconut water or water
❖ 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
❖ 3 limes, peeled and quartered
❖ 1 cup (25 gr. or 0.9 oz.) torn-up curly green kale leaves (1 or 2 large leaves with stalk removed)
❖ ½ cup (18 gr. or 0.6 oz.) firmly packed mint
❖ 2 cups (320 gr. or 11.3 oz.) frozen pineapple
❖ 5 drops alcohol-free liquid stevia, plus more to taste (see Note below)
Optional boosters:
❖ 1 tsp. wheatgrass powder
❖ 1 tsp. minced ginger
❖ 1 tsp. coconut oil
Throw all of the ingredients into your blender and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and creamy.
Note: To sweeten the smoothie, Masters uses liquid stevia and notes that it is potent, and should be used drop by drop. Other sweeteners she recommends for smoothies are fruit concentrate, dates, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup, as well as more exotic options like coconut nectar, yacon syrup, or lucuma powder, which can be found at some natural-foods markets.
“This stunner bursts with complex flavors that will dance on the tip of your tongue,” writes Masters.
Makes 2 servings
❖ 1½ cups (360 ml.) coconut water or water
❖ 1 cup (43 gr. or 1.5 oz.) firmly packed baby spinach
❖ 2 tsp. finely chopped red onion, plus more to taste
❖ 2 Tbsp. chopped cucumber
❖ ½ cup (14 gr. or ½ oz.) finely chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)
❖ 1 tsp. finely chopped jalapeño pepper, plus more to taste
❖ 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste
❖ ¼ tsp. finely grated lime zest
¼ tsp. natural salt
❖ 3 cups (480 gr. or 16.9 oz.) frozen pineapple
❖ Natural sweetener (optional) Optional boosters:
❖ 1 tsp. cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
❖ 1 tsp. wheatgrass powder
❖ ¹⁄ 8 tsp. ground turmeric
Throw all of the ingredients into your blender and blast on high for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy. Tweak flavors to taste; you may want more onion, jalapeño, lime juice, salt or sweetener, depending on the ripeness of your pineapple.
“This decadent dessert shake tastes just like a melted raspberry cheesecake,” writes Masters. She recommends soaking the nuts for ultimate creaminess.
Makes 2 servings
❖ 1½ cups (360 ml.) coconut water or water
❖ ¾ cup (105 gr. or 3.7 oz.) raw unsalted cashews, soaked (see Note below)
❖ ½ medium sliced banana
❖ 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
❖ 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, plus more to taste
❖ 1 tsp. natural vanilla extract
❖ Pinch of finely grated lemon zest, plus more to taste
❖ Pinch of natural salt (optional, to bring out flavors)
❖ 1½ cups (240 gr. or 8.5 oz.) frozen raspberries
❖ 1 cup (125 gr. or 4.4 oz.) ice cubes Optional boosters:
❖ 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
❖ 1 Tbsp. pomegranate powder
❖ ½ tsp. finely chopped serrano chili or other hot green pepper
Throw all of the ingredients into your blender and blast on high for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy. Tweak flavors to taste; you may like a bit more lemon juice, sweetener or zest.
Note: To soak cashews the quick way, cover with boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain, discard the soaking water and rinse the cashews. To soak the slow way and preserve more nutrients, soak in a solution of 2 parts water to 1 part food, by volume, and add ½ tsp. salt and 1 tsp. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar per quart (or liter) of water; soak 2 to 4 hours and discard the soaking liquid.