Cooked breakfasts are a rarity here at Vastrap, usually saved for Sunday mornings when we have a house full of visitors. On a normal day, we have coffee and a rusk early in the morning before Quentin goes out to do his rounds on the farm. He usually returns home between 9h30 and 10h00 for breakfast and without fail, when I ask what he would like to eat he asks for a smoothie. Not exactly what you’d expect from a farmer! The disappointment on his face when there’s no smoothie is too terrible so I try to be prepared and serve up something fresh and delicious every morning. Of course it’s much easier to do this in summer when there’s an abundance of fruit, but I’ve figured out some tricks to keep our smoothies rolling throughout the year.
Our Vastrap smoothies graduated to super smoothies about a year ago when I started investigating the effects of raw food and various super foods like cacao, Maca and chia seeds on fertility. For a few months I decided to go all out and tried everything and anything until I found something that worked. I subjected Quentin to the terrible bitter taste of Maca and a concoction of weird looking green smoothies. I made almond milk and nut butters and tried to steer clear of dairy for a while. Eventually I realised that this would not be sustainable if I couldn’t find a way for all this stuff to taste good and for us to look forward to eating it every day.
The turning point was replacing our stick blender with a proper high-speed blender. It made a huge difference to the taste and texture of the end product because I was suddenly able to use a much wider variety of frozen fruit, including frozen bananas, which add a beautiful creamy texture and a refreshing chill. Overripe bananas in our fruit bowl are a thing of the past because I simply peel and freeze them – alas, that means no more banana bread! I have a dedicated freezer drawer packed with smoothie ingredients including peeled bananas, peeled and sliced mango, frozen berries and cherries, catawba grapes, nuts and seeds. The contents of the drawer change according to seasons. For example, I bought a box of overripe guavas on the side of the road in September, which I peeled and quartered before popping in the freezer. They were absolutely perfect and added a fabulous depth of flavour to our usual smoothie combination.
There is no perfect smoothie recipe. The beauty is that you can adapt it to your taste and what you have on hand. Our fruit supply in town is quite limited so I buy things when I see them. In addition to the frozen fruit mentioned above I always have a stash of raw almonds, cashew nuts, brazil nuts, mixed seeds, honey, nut butters, rolled oats, cacao nibs and chia seeds. I sometimes use milk as the base, but mostly I use fruit juice and fresh orange juice if I have a bag of oranges. The other day I bought a fresh coconut and used the coconut water as the base, which was delicious! For green smoothies I often just use water as the base. I always add some yoghurt. My favourite is the Organic Vanilla yoghurt from Woolworths, but any plain or flavoured yoghurt will do.
2 x frozen peeled bananas
3 oranges juiced (or equivalent milk, fruit juice, almond milk or coconut water)
Hand full of strawberries or frozen berries (frozen grapes work well too and the seeds are full of antioxidants)
A few pieces of fresh and/or frozen fruit (guava, mango, pineapple, papaya, sweet melon)
Hand full of raw almonds, other nuts or equivalent home made nut butter
Half a hand full of seed mix or chia seeds
1/2-1 cup of Organic vanilla yogurt
Optional: honey, rolled oats, cacao nibs, goji berries, Maca powder
Whizz together for at least 35 seconds in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. The smoothie will still have some bite if you’ve used things like seeds and seeded grapes or guavas, but this is good because it makes the drink feel more substantial as a breakfast if you need to chew on it a bit.
Lately I’ve been using frozen pitted cherries that I saved after last year’s Ficksburg Cherry Festival. I’ve been very precious about these cherries, but am happy to use them liberally now because cherries are in season again. Frozen cherries are deliciously decadent paired with cacao nibs in the smoothie!
Green smoothies are a slightly different proposition that I’m less comfortable with. I’ve had some big hits, but also some disasters. I tend to stick with a similar base of frozen banana, yoghurt, water, nuts and seeds and then add some green leaves, sprouts, cucumber and other fresh ingredients like sweet melon. Cold sweet melon adds an amazing fresh taste to any smoothie as long as it really is a sweet one! To add some real zing you can also add a whole lemon, skin and all. It’s incredibly refreshing on a hot summer morning and super healthy to boot!