The Blender Girl Shares Her Tips on Making the Perfect Smoothie
I feel, I need, I crave. Those are the prompts on The Blender Girl’s website. You might insert: I feel powerful, I feel tired. I need to detox. I crave something zesty. With any of these prompts, you’ll receive six recipes for smoothies that are simple enough that a twelve-year-old can make them.
“When it came time to develop a website on food,” explains Tess Master, also known as The Blender Girl. “I researched a lot of different things out there. I was looking at my blender and thinking about all the things I could do with it—sauces, smoothies, juices, soups, compotes, dips, condiments, pesto, ice cream—I started researching for about a year, and realized the blender is the single greatest culinary invention, because it levels the playing field in the kitchen. That means anybody with very little skill, and even less time, can make something nourishing.”
Masters is an actor, lifestyle personality and cookbook author. Her goal is to help people better understand and access immune boosting nutrition. Masters’ passion for healthy eating began when she was a teenager growing up in Australia and was diagnosed with Epstein Barr Virus. “I was thirteen, and I got chronic fatigue. At the time, there was not much to do but rest. That wasn’t doing it for me,” says Masters who is a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm. A naturpath recommended she cut out gluten and dairy from her diet. Removing these categories of food, and focusing on a plant based diet, made her feel better. She saw food as a miracle medicine and decided to try a variety of diets. “I said to my mom, ‘There’s got to be something else we can do?’ Something with food, diet, a natural remedy?
“I tried macrobiotic diet. I followed vegan principles. I did paleo before there was paleo. I was grain free. I really was one of those annoying people who tried a new diet every six months,” explains Masters. One day her father sat her down and said, “We are tired of hearing what you can and cannot have. Food should be fun,” he told her. That statement was a “lightbulb” which led her to embrace flexibility not rigidity, leaving an extreme approach to food behind.
That also led her to the discovery of her favorite appliance, the blender. She has since developed 55 smoothie recipes working with a variety of testers including many children. Masters says she wants each person to be able to recreate these smoothies, “Why do I prescribe ingredients measured in cups? I want to make sure that when you make the recipes yourself at home, you can get a close approximation of what I’m tasting when I make it.”
Having sampled a few of her smoothie recipes, I can attest to their creaminess and intoxicating flavors. Her smoothies are multidimensional, or as she describes it: “An incredible alchemy between ingredients.” I met Masters recently at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington DC, where she had helped develop The Spa Dining Menu; the hotel also offers Master’s smoothies, like Mystical Mango Smoothie, on their breakfast menu.
Maybe you’ve made smoothies at home, but Masters’ smoothies are different. She described some of her techniques that make them both smooth and nutritious. The following is a list of methods to help you expand your repertoire from making only strawberry banana smoothies to smoothies that could change your life.
- First, Masters says, finely chop up the fruit or vegetables to get a high-water content. Choose a base, like frozen fruit, oranges, frozen cranberries, orange zest. Maybe you want to use vegetables instead? Vegetables like tomatoes, butternut squash and kale can be both savory or sweet.
- “Smoothies have to be creamy or frosty, not mealy, grainy or so crunchy you have to floss your teeth afterward,” says Masters. “An important factor in the enjoyment of food is texture.” To get frosty and creamy, Masters typically starts with frozen fruit, then adds avocado or nuts and some ice. “Flavored ice is a really good thing,” she states. Take leftover juices, herbal teas or milk, and freeze them. Fruit gives flavor, and milk makes a smoothie creamy.
- Another way to get creamy texture is using raw unsalted cashews, rolled oats, cooked grain, as well as cooked vegetables like pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes even frozen zucchini (remove the peel). Dice them up, then freeze, to use later in your smoothie.
- Add something green like bok choy, spinach, kale, maybe some herbs. “Mix it up, don’t use the same ones every day,” recommends Masters. “Radish greens are the best kept secret in the smoothie world. Cut off the greens, to get a slight peppery note.”
- Special stuff happens is when you add boosters, Masters believes. Boost the smoothie’s nutritional profile using protein powders, acai, goji berry, green tea, ginseng or flax. “I make thousands of smoothies, and you cannot taste it. Any more than a teaspoon, though, then you can taste it.”
- Spices and fresh herbs. Masters adds both fresh and dry spices like ginger and turmeric. Many people don’t feel like juicing in the winter. To warm things up, Masters adds fennel, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, chili and salt, because these ingredients have a warm flavor profile, and they enhance the flavor of vegetables.
- Another tip is to freeze any bitter vegetables like beets and leafy greens. When smoothies are really cold, it decreases the bitterness, and you won’t taste them. She uses frozen cauliflower in her apple pie smoothies.
- Add some acid and salt. Masters says she adds a pinch of salt when using vegetables, and squeezing lemon, lime juice or balsamic vinegar to boost the tang as well as decrease bitterness.
Chai Tai Smoothie
1 cup (240ml) unsweetened almond milk
1 cup (240ml) raw coconut water
1/4 cup (43g) chopped pitted dates, soaked
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of ground cloves
2 medium-sized frozen sliced bananas
1 cup (125g) ice cubes
Throw all of the ingredients into your blender (including any boosters), and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and creamy.