Smoothie Basics (and how to make a Banana Protein Smoothie)

I’ve been craving smoothies so much recently, and making so many of them, that I finally no longer need a recipe for them. That’s a big achievement for someone like me who loves to cook but still relies on instructions to make a dish.

Essentially I have now hit upon a great base for any smoothie. While it may not be original or inventive, it’s nice to know I only need to have a few key things in the fridge in order to make any flavor smoothie I like.

Start with a quarter cup each of fat-free yogurt and orange juice for one regular serving. If the fruit you’re using isn’t chilled, then put a small handful of ice cubes in the blender along with the yogurt and OJ. (Using lightly thawed frozen fruit like berries is especially nice.) A spoonful or two of protein powder adds extra nutrition if you want it, and a swirl of honey (or agave syrup, my preference) adds sweetness if the drink still needs it.

There you have my perfect smoothie base. As for fruit, use whatever you like — that’s the fun of making these things. I often add banana because I like the touch of creaminess it lends the mixture. If I include other fruit, then I use half a banana. I have found a total of one serving of fruit works well with the amount in the base, but of course all of this is entirely up to your tastes.

Here’s the smoothie I made this morning — straightforward and delicious.

Banana Protein Smoothie
makes 1 serving

Blend the following until smooth:
1/4 cup fat-free yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
Small handful ice cubes
1 Tbsp. protein powder
1 banana

Blueberry-Nectarine Smoothie

I’m back after a long absence, and I can explain. I’m pregnant and those food aversions hit me in the autumn, affecting my appetite in a big way. I didn’t know what I wanted to eat, other than fresh fruit and vegetables — and the odd vanilla shake. I certainly did not want to cook.

The due date is still about seven weeks away, and while the food aversions have mostly gone away, my appetite is still dictated by the baby. The other day I woke up and wanted nothing more than freshly squeezed, high-pulp orange juice for breakfast. But opening the refrigerator, I noticed a punnet of blueberries I had bought the other day and immediately knew what I wanted: a fresh smoothie. Here’s what I came up with, and it was delicious.

Put in a blender:
1/2 cup fat-free yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 nectarine, chopped in chunks
Handful of ice cubes
170g fresh blueberries
Agave syrup, to taste (two thick swirls in the blender was the amount I used)

Blend together and enjoy. Makes 1 mega serving.

Pineapple-Banana Smoothie

This smoothie is a favorite of mine. It’s delicious and easy — it only has three ingredients — and it’s quite a good way to start the day. I had it for breakfast just this morning.

Serves 2

1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 15.5-oz (434g) can of pineapple chunks in juice (preferably chilled beforehand)
1 banana

Combine everything in a blender and whizz until smooth. Be sure to include the juice from the pineapples.

Chicken Souvlaki Salad

This is an absolutely delicious chicken salad that would also be perfect inside pita bread or on some crispy pita crackers. It’s not traditional souvlaki — more like a Greek salad — but who cares when it tastes this good. It’s also super easy.

I made this with chicken breasts I boiled the other day. That’s my new favorite way to cook chicken — it leaves it moist and there is no fat involved. If you don’t have any on hand, it’s easy enough to make: Just boil some water, add trimmed chicken pieces, take them out when cooked through, and let cool.

Makes 4 servings

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 lb. cooked boneless, skinless chicken, cubed
3 cups cubed, peeled cucumbers (2-3 cucumbers)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 black olives, pitted and chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated peeled cucumber
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
Salt and black pepper

Combine first seven ingredients (garlic through chicken breast) in a large bowl. Mix in cucumber, onion, feta, olives, and tomatoes.

In a separtate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, then pour over chicken mixture and toss well.