I have fallen in love all over again, this time with my Oster 2-in-1 Blender/Food Processor. Why is this little machine so dear to me? Because I have recently rediscovered my love for smoothies. Smoothies have been one of my favorite foods since I was a kid. Back then, of course, my sister and I liked to whip up all kinds of horrific creations using everything from Tang to Fresca to chocolate chips. By now I’ve learned how to blend somewhat healthier fare, which is fortunate, since most frozen and blended drinks sold at chain restaurants are really just milkshakes in disguise (apologies to anyone who still thinks a Frappuccino is actually “coffee”). When made with good ingredients, smoothies can be healthy, convenient, and beyond delicious, but a lot of places are notorious for loading them up with added sugar (the “Cocoa Latte Swirl” at Orange Julius packs 960 calories and about 120 grams of sugar. Delicious. Of course, if a restaurant actually lists the ingredients they use, it’s much easier not to get duped into buying junk. ) As for ingredients, less seems to be more: you can’t really beat fresh or frozen fruit, plus some soy yogurt (or regular yogurt, for my lactose tolerant friends). Over the last couple of weeks I’ve made some discoveries I felt compelled to share.

Prices for blender-friendly fruit like berries and pineapple seem to fluctuate wildly week to week, at least in my neighborhood, so I’ve been buying up whatever’s on special and stashing it in the freezer to use later (last week it was blueberries for $1 and mangoes for $0.75. I was so happy I almost cried. Blueberries? For a dollar? I thought, “God, what’s wrong with them?” But so far they’ve been absolutely fine.) Of course, fresh fruit is excellent too (you can always add ice). There are a lot of protein powders and potions on the market for mixing into smoothies, but I tend to stick with more familiar ingredients. Bananas are wonderful for adding a creamy texture, as are (soy) yogurt and even tofu (which by the way, when blended with the fruit, is essentially tasteless! Hooray! Nobody really wants a tofu-flavored smoothie), which also add some protein to the mix. As it turns out, a smoothie is a good medium for hiding other healthy but less palatable mixers. You can also add peanut butter (especially with chocolate soy milk), and natural sweeteners like honey and agave syrup. Additionally, if you’re using frozen fruit, adding a small cup of hot tea will help thaw the fruit just enough to keep the blender blades from jamming, but still give you a cold drink (with an extra anti-oxidant punch, to boot).

Perhaps I over-think this kind of thing, but I can’t lie: rarely do I get such glee and gratification at the push of a button (“liquefy!”). But it may be useful knowledge: after all, a smoothie is an ideal food for when you’re sick and need more fluids and vitamin C, or if you’ve had a dental surgery; they’re also good for picky children who don’t like the idea of eating fruits and veggies, but will go for a “slushie” that happens to be made with (gasp!) fresh fruit and yogurt or soymilk. You can probably even fake a “milkshake” with chocolate soymilk, frozen yogurt, even silent-but-deadly tofu.

For now, I will continue to blend away; apologies to my neighbors who put up with the whirring every morning.