_1 Introduction

Serves: 5



Smoothies are one of the most appealing trends of our time. They have become the "in" drink for health-conscious individuals seeking novel and nutritious ways to enrich their diets without adding too many calories or unnecessary fat. At the same time, many of us enjoy smoothies for the sheer pleasure of indulging in a refreshing taste sensation that is delicious and filling.

Although the popularity of smoothies is due largely to their nutritional benefits and great taste, another plus is their ease of preparation. For many of us with busy lifestyles, it's difficult to find the time to prepare healthful foods for our daily diets, yet a smoothie creation, made of the simplest ingredients, can be prepared in minutes. Even though the most elementary smoothies are made with a simple combination of fruit and fruit juice, with the availability of such a great variety of seasonal fruits and juices, these wonders in a glass can be amazingly rewarding. Beyond the basics, a dairy product, such as milk or yogurt, can be substituted for the juice or included as an additional ingredient. Best of all, these ingredients can all be blended into an infinite number of delectable combinations, limited only by your imagination.

Whether you choose to drink a smoothie for its nutritional qualities or simply because it's delicious, you can't help benefiting from its inherently healthful ingredients. Smoothies are chock full of vitamins from the fruit, and their dairy ingredients are a rich source of calcium. These delightful drinks can also be supplemented with a wide variety of healthful additives or soybean products that quickly transform them into an even more nutritionally balanced and wholesome treat.

SUMMER SMOOTHIES appropriately includes in the chapter Smoothie Basics, a section titled "Health Benefits of Smoothies." Here, you'll learn why smoothies are so good for you and find suggestions on how to maximize their nutritional value. In "About Fruit-Noteworthy Ingredients: How to Select, Prepare, and Store Fresh Fruit" you'll discover the secrets of selecting and preparing the best fruits for the ultimate smoothie. Finally, if you're unfamiliar with the equipment needed to make a smoothie, "Getting Started-Making a Summer Smoothie: Equipment and Techniques" will prove to be very useful to you. This section concentrates on the essential tools you need to transform your kitchen into Smoothie Central. You'll also discover a host of helpful techniques that will enable you to elevate every blender masterpiece you prepare to the absolute pinnacle of smoothiedom.

The first recipe chapter, "Simple Pleasures: All-Time Summer Favorites," will appeal to all smoothie devotees. You'll learn that to make a basic smoothie, you simply combine your favorite richly flavored fruit and fruit juice in a blender and rev it up. Your reward will be a scrumptious smoothie. Some of my favorites are Macho, Macho Mango, a pleasantly sweet blend of mangoes, bananas, strawberries, and pineapple juice, and California Whirls, made with a tantalizing combination of strawberries, pineapple, banana, and apricot nectar.

Chapter "Moootown Smoothies: Dare-E to Be Different" presents delectable smoothies made with dairy products, such as milk and yogurt. You'll discover that with the addition of dairy ingredients, you can endow smoothies with a creamier consistency and richer flavor. In most of the recipes, I suggest using lowfat dairy products to keep the fat content to a minimum. However, depending on your diet, whole dairy products can be substituted, or lowfat ones can be replaced with fat-free ingredients and vice versa. Any of these substitutions will not appreciably change the taste or consistency of the smoothie. So fall in love with a glassful of Cantaloupe? Need a Ladder!, made with a luscious blend of cantaloupe, banana, orange juice, and vanilla yogurt, or savor a serving of Supermango, a dairy delight made with mango, banana, peach nectar, and vanilla frozen yogurt.

Chapter "Smoothie Power: Fit and Trim, Filled to the Rim" contains many recipes made with soybean products as well as several that feature the addition of other health-enhancing supplements. Although smoothies usually provide a healthy dose of vitamins and calcium derived from their fruit and dairy ingredients, they do not ordinarily qualify as a nutritionally complete meal replacement but typically are enjoyed as a nutritious snack or a supplement to a meal. However, when you would like to transform a smoothie into an instant meal, this chapter will guide you in the use of nutritional additives, breakfast powders, or protein supplements to achieve this goal. Just as their mealworthiness can be improved, you'll learn how the health benefits of smoothies can be enhanced as well by the simple addition of supplements, such as herbs or extracts. What's more, these additives and supplements can be added without appreciably changing the smoothie's taste or texture. If you're looking for a delicious way to increase the fiber in your diet, try starting the morning with a glass of How Wheat It Is, made with orange juice, soy milk, cherries, banana, blackberries, tofu, and wheat germ or, when you're in need of a quick energy boost, consider mixing up a batch of Triathlon Turbo, a high-energy blend that packs a punch derived from soy milk, orange juice, blueberries, raspberries, banana, protein powder, wheat germ, and bee pollen.

While smoothies are usually enjoyed as a refreshing break during a busy day, there may be some occasions when you have the urge to splurge on something that is more outrageously decadent. For such mildly sinful indulgences, you need look no further than chapter "Dazzling Dessert Smoothies: Decadence in a Glass." When a smoothie is made with rich ingredients, such as ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and other temptingly caloric additions that are not usually associated with these healthful drinks, the resulting decadent delight can share center stage with any chocolate mousse or flaming dessert. While these smoothies are meant to be an occasional indulgence, keep in mind that there is no prohibition against substituting lowfat yogurt or ice cream for traditional ice cream. So, if you adore coffee and ice cream, you're certain to be delighted with a serving of Daddy Starbucks, a luscious combination of coffee, hot fudge sauce, banana, and caramel ice cream or, if you prefer the tastes of the tropics, try sampling Good Golly, Miss Maui, a heavenly Hawaiian combination of pineapple and banana with coconut gelato.

Chapter "Cocktail Hour: Perfect Party Smoothies" presents recipes for smoothies meant to be served on those special occasions when a celebration is in order. Laced with your favorite spirits, these smoothies acquire a delectable taste that lingers long after the last straw full, and, when accented with an edible garnish, they can grace an elegant dessert plate or become the grand finale of a candlelight dinner. The next time you're looking for a special smoothie that is certain to impress your friends, consider offering them a balloon glass filled with Brandy Alexander, a creamy blend of brandy, crème de cacao, banana, and ice cream. Don't forget to garnish it by inserting a Spritz Cookie or two Cinnamon-Coated Fusilli (both found in "Glorious Garnishes: A Touch of Class") standing upright in the center of the smoothie.

Finally, chapter "Glorious Garnishes: A Touch of Class" contains several recipes for garnishes that will enable you to transform any of your favorite smoothie creations into a visually striking presentation. While some of these adornments are more elaborate, I have also included others that are quick and easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time. For your most discerning guests, you'll want to try a Cinnamon- Coated Tortilla Triangle, an attractive and flavorful way to accent an indulgent smoothie. On the lighter side, consider adding an Apple Chip or Pineapple Chip, a simple touch that will tastefully decorate the most basic smoothie.

Once considered only a simple combination of fruit and fruit juice, smoothies have definitely grown up and now consist of a dazzling array of appealing and sometimes exotic combinations. So what are you waiting for? Rev up the blender and get ready for some excitement in a glass.

From SUMMER SMOOTHIES: more than 130 cool and refreshing recipes. Copyright © 2002 Donna Pliner Rodnitzky. All Rights Reserved.

This _1 Introduction recipe is from the Cook'n Summer Smoothies Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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