Tom's Award-Winning Smoothie Recipe

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I have a lot of feelings about smoothies. I used to think they were gross. That texture! Ew. I could never finish one. It wasn't until one fateful ITG team outing to Juice Generation when I met the Peanut Butter Split and it all snapped together. It was delicious and I was in love. The texture was perfect–smooth, like ice cream. Click. Long-term relationship entered.

The problem is smoothies can be expensive. Even with a wallet filled to the brim with discount cards, it's not a sustainable lifestyle. The Peanut Butter Split is for special, spendy occasions. All other times require a budget option. So a few months ago, I dragged out the blender I got when I was 18, consulted the ingredient lists on both the Juice Generation and the Juice Press sites, did some light ITG reading, and figured out how to make my own. And I have to say, I've got the perfect recipe. Take it from a true smoothie lunatic.

The most important thing is the two bananas!!! First off, they NEED to be frozen, and they NEED to be ripe. If you can't commit to these two things please stop reading, forget my number, and swear off smoothies forever. The ripeness is what eliminates the need for any sweetener, like agave, honey, dates, etc. If they're ripe enough, the sweetness will come from the banana and you can keep the glycemic index a little bit lower. One banana does have about 14 grams of sugar in it, so it's best to be careful with what else we put in here. (Unless you're going for sugar overload, in which case, be my guest and pour in the agave.) When they're soft and covered in brown spots, you're good to freeze them overnight. PLEASE don't ever try to use un-frozen fruit and call it a smoothie. If I see someone adding ICE CUBES to a smoothie, I will walk out. Just commit. The payoff is that perfect ice cream texture we're looking for.

The second most important ingredient is the milk. I like Oatly because of the nutty taste and thick-but-not-fatty consistency. Coconut milk is similar—but sometimes too sweet for me. Or just use dairy! It'll be rich, but it's a great opportunity to support local dairy farmers. To measure, I always just pour to right below where the bananas are sitting (uncut) in my blender. That took some time to figure out, but trial and error just means more smoothies.

Third is the nut butter. Any nut butter—I've tried a bunch and never notice a difference. But you do need a healthy scoop or two for the consistency. Right now I use the cheap Trader Joe's peanut butter. If I've got a cashew butter that's too dried out for toast, I'll finish that in a smoothie. If you've got nut allergies, you could do sunflower seed butter, which has such a nice taste. Adding this helps stabilize your blood sugar levels a bit (or so I've read) because of the high fiber, high protein, and healthy oils. You could also add a bit of avocado for thickness if you want, which also helps counteract the sugar.

Now for the mix-ins! I always load on the cinnamon—like 1 tablespoon—to make the banana a little bit less banana-flavored. I add maca, too, if I'm getting back from a run or have a busy day. It always give me a bit of an energy kick. Then I like to finish off with a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt. Yes, I know it's not from the mountains but it says it on the package and you know exactly what I mean when I say it so please let me live my life, ITG commenters! This just changes the flavor a little; it's a nice touch. I NEVER do cacao because I think it makes the smoothie bitter. I'd rather just have a square of dark chocolate if that's what I'm craving.

So there it is: Blend for a healthy 30-Mississippi counts, and then do it again. Make sure it starts pulsating a bit, then pour it into a cup and enjoy with a wide, glass, reusable straw—they have 'em on Amazon. It should be the texture + thickness of a milkshake, and taste like HEAVEN. That's how you'll know you did it right.

Oh and one last thing. You must wash the blender RIGHT after you make the smoothie. Before you even drink it. Otherwise you're going to come back from drinking this perfection and have to wash this 4-part piece of machinery. Makes it kinda not worth it, right? Well, I think it's always worth it, but just clean it now and quickly move on. OK?

—Tom Newton

Photographed by the author.