I love cookbooks and consider them things of beauty and joys to behold. It is equally true, however, that up until a few weeks ago I would not have given you a Thank You for a book on smoothies. Did I have anything against liquid refreshments in principle? Had I taken against pourable foodstuffs? No. It had nothing to do with my life’s philosophy but more a lack of blender.
Smoothies are simple concoctions but a blender is an essential gadget. Not expensive and taking up little room on the kitchen counter or in the appliance drawer, I can guarantee that you’ll get plenty of use from a blender and not least in the preparation of smoothies.
Smoothie Heaven is one of the most comprehensive books on the subject. It’s a pastel-coloured, ice cream parlour-hued volume with hundreds of recipes for smoothies for every occasion. There are noble and healthful ones. Those for posh desserts. Alcoholic smoothie cocktails, and others more suitable for kids. The combinations of ingredients are masterful and intriguing.
We all know about smoothies: we find them in restaurants and cafes and even supermarkets. They are mostly delicious and expensive and don’t all fall into the ‘healthy’ category. But homemade smoothies can save you cash, and be tailor-made as either food or fun or a bit of both. They can be thick and luscious, they don’t feel like worthy health drinks even if they are, and that’s the appeal.
I once had a smoothie in New York which was so thick that the effort to suck it through the provided straw gave me spots before the eyes. Yes, the appeal lies in great measure with the texture of the drink, but they need to be predominantly liquid, and made with the best ingredients. Colour is also important. We are said to eat with our eyes, and I include drink in that saying. The recipes in Smoothie Heaven are designed to be made easily in the domestic kitchen with just the use of a regular blender. They are full of flavour and attractive. A smoothie could even tick off one of those elusive 5-a-day.
The classic Banana Smoothie is the first recipe in the book. It’s the easiest to make, it uses cheap ingredients and it’s a perennial favourite. The banana gives a silky and comforting texture. This will be the one that the kids will be making when they get home from school. It’s also a great meal replacement when children are ill and off their food. Maple Banana Smoothie is an adult version of the classic. If you can’t find maple syrup-flavoured ice cream (not common in Europe) then just use some extra maple syrup in the mix. It has a unique taste so don’t leave it out as it’s the main flavouring.
Lassi is a traditional Indian drink which falls nicely into the Smoothie category of beverages. It has a natural yoghurt base with various fruits or flavours added. Melon and Ginger Lassi is the variety included in Smoothie Heaven. The melon is mild, sweet and refreshing and ginger gives some zing. Serve this with an Indian meal or savoury snacks on hot afternoons.
The chapter entitled Rejoicing Smoothies carries the alcoholic concoctions. These slide down very well on summer evenings while waiting for the barbeque to heat up. Use sparingly as the alcohol is masked by the other ingredients. Singapore Slush is a chilled version of the ever-popular Singapore Gin Sling. The slush is provided by lemon sorbet but the gin and cherry brandy will pack a punch.
The Healing Smoothies chapter offers some delicious but healthful drinks for staying in peak condition. Lemon Tea Coolie has natural antioxidant qualities that you might be glad of after weeks of watching the World Cup, Wimbledon tennis, cricket and eating TV dinners. It’s the tea that is so good for you. This smoothie is more tempting than a hot cuppa on those scorching days of our English summer. Well, we can dream.
Smoothie Heaven has a wealth of recipes but this book will inspire you to find your own combinations. These drinks are easy and fun to make and a good way to slip some fruit or vegetables into the kids. Get them to help and even design their own smoothies. Smoothie Heaven is one of the best books on the subject and great value for money.
Author: Wendy Sweetser
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018