Smoothies and “Milkshakes”

January 21, 2007 at 7:35 am (Beverage, breakfast, Derek's faves, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk, The Vegan Gourmet, unrated, Website / blog)

When I was growing up my mom called any thick beverage made with fruit juice a “smoothie” and anything made with soymilk a “milkshake.” Derek, however, insists that milkshakes must include cow’s milk and ice cream. Whatever you call them, there are a million variations out there, and I’m on a quest to find my favorite combinations. So far I’ve only taken a few steps. But don’t worry, give me time. I’ll get there eventually!

Ginger, Peanut, Banana

  • 1.5 tsp. coarsely minced ginger
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) nonfat vanilla Stonyfield organic yogurt
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsweetened soymilk
  • 1.5 tsp. peanut butter, 365, crunchy
  • 1 banana

I had some ginger leftover and experimented with this recipe. The ginger flavor was surprisingly mild. I could taste it but there wasn’t any “kick” like I was expecting. The peanut butter was also realtively mild. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I probably would alter it before making it again. The texture and thickness was quite nice I thought even without any frozen fruit or ice, but the flavor wasn’t stellar. Rating: B

Martha Rose Shulman on the NYT gives this recipe for a banana peanut butter smoothie.  I haven’t tried it yet:

  • 1 medium or large banana, preferably frozen, sliced
  • 2/3 cup low-fat milk or almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons smooth or chunky unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter or roasted almond butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • A couple of drops of almond extract or vanilla

Fruit, Flax, Molasses

  • 1.5 cups fresh or frozen berries or chopped fruit
  • 2 cups plain or vanilla soymilk
  • 1/4 cup flaxseeds
  • 1 large fresh or frozen banana
  • 1 Tbs. blackstrap molasses

This recipe is from The Vegan Gourmet by Susann Geiskopf-Hadler and Minday Toomay. I used peaches I had frozen this summer, unsweetened soymilk, and a fresh banana. I also used pre-ground flaxseeds because my blender doesn’t do much to flaxseeds. I liked this smoothie all right. There wasn’t any distinctive flavor to it, but it wasn’t unpleasant either. Even with the unsweetened soymilk I thought it was sweet enough. I couldn’t really taste the molasses, but I’m guessing that it muddied up the flavor a bit, made it taste a little less bright. The consistency was thick and very good. The bits of unperfectly ground flax seeds were definitely noticeable, but not unpleasant. This is a very nutritious smoothie, with the iron and calcium from the molasses, the EFA from the flax seeds, and the protein from the soymilk–quite nutritionally balanced (32% fat, 17% protein, 52% carbs). It’s quite high calorie though, with one 12 ounce cup having about 350 calories. I think if I made this again I might cut out 1 Tbs. of flax seeds. Rating: B-.
Also perhaps I should move my mango lassi and pumpkin smoothie here? Or at least link to them?

Orange Julius

  • 1 cup orange juice or 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate, preferably frozen
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup soymilk (use 1.5 cups if use use the oj concentrate)
  • a dash of vanilla
  • a pinch of salt

This is one of my favorite smoothies. I love the sweet/tart orange with the tangy/sour yogurt. Unfortunately, I don’t usually measure so these amounts are all guestimates, but I’ll measure next time I make it.  I don’t recommend using nonfat yogurt or light soymilk in this recipe: you need some fat in it for it to be filling.

I recently tried this with 1 cup of frozen cranberries added, and it was tasty but I had to add sweetener to counteract the tartness of the cranberries.  The cranberries skins added a pleasant bit of texture to the smoothie, which was thick and icy due to the frozen cranberries and the frozen oj concentrate.  It made 3 cups.

Orange julius with bananas, flax, and hemp protein

I started out making an orange julius, but it didn’t taste quite right, so I added bananas, flax seeds, and hemp protein powder.  I wanted it more orange/bitter tasting so at the end I added 1 Tbs. of marmalade.  Derek said it was the “best smoothie ever”.  I thought it was good, but a bit muddled tasting.

  • 1 cup very low fat yogurt
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3 Tbs. vanilla help protein powder
  • 1 dash vanilla
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 Tbs. flax seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbs. orange marmalade

Cranberry Orange Banana

  • 2 Tbs. orange juice concentrate
  • 3/8 cup unsweetend soy milk
  • 2 Tbs. whole cranberries (I used frozen)
  • 1 banana frozen

This was a–haven’t been to the grocery store in a month, desperate for vit C–smoothie that I threw together in a rush. I was surprised how much I liked it. The tangy-ness of the OJ contrasted nicely with the tartness of the cranberries. About 200 calories, ~ 80% carbs.

Amounts: 3 cups of smoothie is about 3 small juice-glass sized smoothies or 2 regular-glass sized smoothies or 1 giant smoothie-bar sized smoothie.  You can usually just add up the volume of all the ingredients and that will give you a pretty good estimate of the total volume made.

This is a reminder to myself that I want to hunt down the smoothie book my friend Steph recommended and that Dr. Gregor recommended on smoothies with greens and berries. I think Steph said her favorite combo was bok choy and blueberries.

Simple Strawberry Milkshake

  • 1 medium-size or large, ripe banana (frozen is good too)
  • 1 heaped cup fresh or frozen hulled strawberries (use frozen if your banana is not frozen)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 to 3 ice cubes

This recipe is from one of Martha Rose Shulman’s posts on the New York Times.  It yields 16 ounces, 2 servings.  I thought that the recipe was reasonably good, but not as good as my mom’s strawberry smoothie.  I think it needed a pinch of salt, and maybe a few more strawberries.  The sweetness level was fine. I just tried this again with 4 ounces frozen banana, 6 ounces hulled strawberries, 1 cup milk, 2 tsp honey, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/8 tsp. kosher salt, and 3 small ice cubes.  It made about 18 ounces.  It wasn’t right.  Tasted a bit sour, and not strawberry enough.  I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.  Maybe the honey didn’t really mix in?  Too much salt and vanilla?

She also has a recipe for a mango buttermilk smoothie, which I haven’t tried yet.

Pineapple, banana, mint smoothie

I also tried Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe for a pineapple, banana, mint smoothie, except I used canned pineapple and omitted the sweetener. It was interesting tasting.  The mint was subdued but definitely present, and the pineapple was quite subtle.  With the canned pineapple it was a bit sweet, and stringy in places.  I’m not sure I’d make it again for breakfast, but it could be interesting as a more sophisticated beverage to accompany a spicy dinner.  Shulman’s banana berry smoothie was tasty, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Watermelon agua fresca

In May 2010 I tried Martha Rose Hulman’s  watermelon agua fresca.  Derek said it tasted like watermelon juice.  He wasn’t that excited about it–said it was a little watered down tasting.  I enjoyed it.  It was quite simple but refreshing.  I think the recipe did need some more intense flavor (ginger?), but it’s a good base.

Banana, peach, nutmeg smoothie

Lately I’ve been making a smoothie with:

  • 1 banana, frozen (about 110 grams)
  • 1 large peach (about 165 grams)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbs. ground flax seeds
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup 1.5% milk

It’s pretty tasty–not revelational, but tasty.  Derek likes it reasonably well, despite the lack of added sugar.  I tried a variant yesterday with about 165 grams fresh mango instead of peach, and I couldn’t tell the difference!  It tasted pretty much the same.  Then this morning I tried using the peach, but instead of the banana I added two small oranges (peeled and de-seeded, about 200 grams).  I also used 1/2 yogurt and 1/2 milk.   Since there was no frozen banana, I added 4 ice cubes. It wasn’t very good.  The texture was very stringy, I assume from the oranges, and it was a little sour.  Derek wouldn’t drink it.

I made a slight variation on the recipe above and it came out really well today.  Derek liked it a lot too:

  • 1 banana, frozen (about 107 grams)
  • 1 medium peach (about 134 grams)
  • 1 cup of light soymilk (my brand has about 5 grams of sugar per cup)
  • a splash of artificial vanilla (I didn’t measure)
  • a large pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs. ground flax seeds (14 grams)
  • two very large pinches of nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. “mischmus”, a mix of almond, cashew, and peanut butter.

I think the nutmeg gives the smoothie more depth, and makes it taste sweeter.  The mischmus added a nutty flavor, and the extra salt also makes it taste sweeter.

I tried to replicate this the next day and put in 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg by mistake, and it was definitely too nutmegy!  Next time I’d try 1/4 tsp.

Peach, banana, yogurt, spinach, cashew smoothie

This smoothie is one I just threw together but quite liked.  The cashew helped balanced out the more sour/acidic/sweet flavors that sometimes overwhelm my smoothies.  I couldn’t taste the spinach at all, although the smoothie was a lovely green color.  I didn’t measure everything so many of the amounts below are approximate. The smoothie was good, but could perhaps use a little more bite–maybe some fresh ginger? cardamom?

  • 2 small peaches with peel, about 120 grams after removing pits
  • 1 small-medium banana, about 100 grams
  • 5 ounces lowfat milk
  • 3 ounces lowfat plain yogurt
  • a little marmalade (1/2 Tbs?)
  • a little vanilla (1/2 tsp?)
  • ground salted/roasted cashews (2 Tbs?)
  • 2 ounces spinach
  • 4 ice cubes

Carrot and Sesame Date Smoothie

This is a recipe Martha Rose Shulman posted to the NYT.  I put in all the ingredients except the ice cubes (using hulled sesame seeds and huge medjool dates), but the mix would simply not blend.  There wasn’t enough liquid.  I added another 1/3 cup of orange juice and the blades went atwirling.  I tasted it at this point and it was interesting–the dominant flavor was “nutty”, mostly from the sesame seeds.  It was a bit too sweet though (maybe from the extra OJ or the huge dates), and also too thick.  If I had carrot juice around I would have used 2/3 cup to thin it down I think.  I decided to try to combat both the sweetness and the thickness by adding a little milk.  I added 2/3 cup of lowfat milk and 4 ice cubes.   At this point it was interesting but still too sweet, and it tasted like it was missing something.  I added a pinch of salt and a little vanilla and nutmeg, but they didn’t really help.  I served it anyway.  It was okay, but not something I’d make again.  I’d really like to have a good recipe for a carrot smoothie though.  The carrots make the smoothie such a lovely shade of orange!

In this series there’s also a recipe for an orange, date shake with oatmeal and a kiwi strawberry smoothie.  I’m not a big fan of kiwis but maybe I’d like them in a smoothie?

Cherry Almond Smoothie

  • 24 cherries, pitted (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal, also called almond flour or almond powder (3/4 ounce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup almond beverage or milk
  • 1 plum or peach
  • 2 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 6 ice cubes
This recipe is another from Martha Rose Shulman.  I didn’t have agave nectar so used honey, and I couldn’t find almond milk so used 1.5% cow’s milk.  The first thing I thought when I tasted the smoothie was “almond extract”!  It’s definitely present.  I also tasted the peach a bit.  The almond meal adds thickness (since there’s no banana).  I thought it was an interesting smoothie but it’s a little high calorie and Derek didn’t care for it that much.  I’ll probably try it again though.  I think I might tone down the almond extract and add a spice.  Not sure which though.  Allspice?  What goes well with almonds?
General tips
A great but not-co-common ingredient in smoothies:  mint leaves or mint extract.  If I have mint leaves around I’ll add them but usually I don’t, so I just a drop or two gives smoothies a great complex flavor.  People can’t tell it’s mint extract, but they really like the added sharp/herbal/refreshing quality it adds.
I like to put whole, unpeeled oranges in smoothies.  Just cut off the hard tip, and take out any large seeds, then cut into chunks so the blender can handle it.  I usually use one small juicing orange, but today I used a massive navel orange (about 10 oz I think).  Urgh.  Too bitter!  Derek liked it (as usual), and didn’t even detect anything bitter, but I can’t handle as much orange pith as he can.
Note Nov 2013:  I just got inspired and put a whole (peeled) ruby-red grapefruit into my smoothie.  It wasn’t a huge grapefruit, maybe around 185g?  I didn’t carefully remove all the pith from the outside of the grapefruit, and wow was the smoothie bitter and extremely “pithy.”  I won’t make that mistake again. Half of a grapefruit might have worked if I had had some banana, but I just had mixed frozen tropical fruit and cranberries in the smoothie and the grapefruit dominated everything else. I tried adding hemp protein powder and peanut butter, but it didn’t help.


  1. captious said,

    Today I had no frozen bananas so I made a smoothie with:
    * 1 large peach (175 grams)
    * 150 grams frozen blueberries
    * 1 cup lowfat milk
    * 2 Tbs. ground flax seeds (14 grams)
    * 1 pinch of allspice
    * 25 grams of chard
    * splash of vanilla
    * pinch of salt

    The basic flavor was mild but fine. The smoothie didn’t taste very sweet though–Derek added maple syrup. I couldn’t detect the allspice or chard. The smoothie tasted more watery than normal (both the texture and the flavor)–it was missing the bulk that the banana provides. I think a little molasses + a plum would have helped with the sweetness and given it a bit more depth of flavor.

  2. Two vegetarain cookbooks bite the dust « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] creamy fruit smoothie with flaxseeds and molasses is good.  The recipe is pretty straightforward, but very nutritious: 2 […]

  3. Two vegetarian cookbooks bite the dust « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] creamy fruit smoothie with flaxseeds and molasses is good.  The recipe is pretty straightforward, but very nutritious: 2 […]

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    […] Smoothies with frozen strawberries, bananas, and hemp powder Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Uh Oh….What is this? […]

  5. captious said,

    I made a red pepper and corn sauce yesterday, and didn’t feel like cleaning the blender before making my morning smoothie. I made a pretty normal smoothie with peaches, banana, milk, a very small pear, and a little yogurt. I really liked the flavor that the (slightly salty) red pepper / corn sauce added to the smoothie. It went really well with the peach flavor. I’m going to try making a peach / red pepper smoothie next time!

  6. Cherry clafoutis « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] a cherry soup (which I’d like to try) for a cherry smoothie (which I blogged about on my smoothies post) and one for a cherry clafouti made with yogurt and no butter or cream.  Many years ago in […]

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