I Don't Put Veggies in My Smoothies — and I'm Not Going to Apologize for That

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April 05, 2019

CC ACAI BREAKFAST BOWL Cooking Channel Unsweetened Frozen Acai Puree, Banana, Blueberries, Honey, Granola, Pomegranate Seeds, Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Hi, my name is Maria Russo. I’m an editor, a Michigan native and a collector of owl things. Oh, and I’m also newly obsessed with smoothies.

My love of smoothies came when I started traveling to Los Angeles for work. If you know me well, you know there are two things I have to do while in La La Land: hike a mountain and eat an acai smoothie bowl. #basic Since I’ve yet to find a spot in NYC that I love as much as I do my faves on the west coast, I decided to get creative and make my own at home. To start, I needed a blender.

For Christmas I was gifted a Ninja Professional blender. I know, everyone raves about the Vitamix, and it is a spectacular machine. I just don’t need all the bells and whistles (and price tag!) it comes with. I went with the Ninja because I’d heard that it was a smoothie magician and an ice-crushing pro. Plus, it was like 100 bucks. Sold.

Next up, I needed smoothie fixings. True to my obsession with acai bowls, I stocked up on packs of frozen Sambazon pure unsweetened acai. (I like the unsweetened kind because I want to control the sweetness of my smoothies with milk and fruit.) This stuff is packed with antioxidants, and it has a pretty neutral blueberry-like flavor, so you can add other ingredients easily. I also grabbed packs of frozen Pitaya dragon fruit, which is also full of antioxidants. But honestly, I just love the bright-pink color. (Told ya. #basic)

Frozen acai and frozen dragonfruit often form the base of my smoothies; from there, I add in whatever frozen fruits, milks and yogurts I have on hand. I make sure I have a range of options at all times so I can keep things interesting. My favorite combos are:

Frozen acai + frozen blueberries + frozen banana

Frozen acai + frozen strawberries + frozen blueberries

Frozen dragon fruit + frozen strawberries

Frozen dragon fruit + frozen strawberries + frozen mango + frozen banana

A couple things to note: 1. I like my ingredients to be frozen so I don’t have to add ice, which only serves to dilute the flavors. No need for that. 2. The taste of the frozen banana can get lost in the smoothie, but you’ll definitely notice the texture it brings. So creamy and rich. But if I don’t have bananas, I sometimes throw in a glob of Greek yogurt. It’s quite tangy, though, so you will taste that flavor.

One thing is very obviously missing from my smoothies. Vegetables! Listen, I love vegetables as much as the next gal, but I prefer to oil, salt and roast them rather than puree them for breakfast. I know that they can be delicious in smoothies — spinach and kale are go-to picks for many people — but I just don’t see a need to add them. I eat smoothies for a fun, refreshing treat, not a way of getting my veggies.

When blending up my smoothies, I sometimes need to add a splash of milk to get things moving. Again, hello, richness and creaminess. The blades in the Ninja blender are stacked in tiers, which means that even ingredients piled high in the blender will get broken down easily. I tend to start on the low setting, and then save the medium and high powers for quick blitzes at the end only — just to make the smoothie, well, smoother.

After that, I sometimes pour the smoothie into a glass and drink it as-is. But when I’m feeling fancy, I have been known to pour the smoothie into a bowl and arrange fresh fruit, granola and chia seeds into neat little rows to create LA-worthy masterpieces.

The great thing about smoothies is that the options are endless and they’re an easy way to use up random things in your freezer. If you’re craving more veggies, by all means, experiment with frozen cauliflower and kale in your morning smoothies too. Or go all out with the toppings; hemp seeds, bee pollen and coconut flakes are popular picks. There’s no wrong way to do smoothies, and that’s why I love them. But if you're somone who needs a recipe when experimenting in the kitchen, start with this one. It's quick, fresh and appropriately #basic.

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