Thursday, June 4, 2015

Julie's Berry Banana Smoothie

Just the thing for when the weather gets hotter!

The 1970's were an interesting time when it came to food. On the one hand, you had more and more processed and prepackaged food, and on the other, you had a growing interest in health foods and vegetarianism. People were starting to rethink what it meant to eat well, while being a little enchanted by things like TV dinners and going out to eat at chain restaurants.

The smoothie is kind of a perfect example of both sides of this culinary divide. At first glance, smoothies seem like the ultimate health food for someone on the go - which a lot of people were during this period! But often times, commercial smoothies can actually be more or less glorified milkshakes because of how much sugar and ice cream goes in them. What I've got for you today is hopefully healthier than what you're going to order at Jamba Juice (although I love Jamba Juice), but still super tasty and one of my favorite ways to solve my problem of what to eat for breakfast... or lunch. I'm kind of bad at both of them, honestly.

But before we get on to the recipe, I have a little aside about Julie's new skateboard set...

We often joke that Julie is a brown eyed, Californian, better dressed version of my mother as a child, so the fact that her new set included a mini model of my mother's childhood skateboard? Was pretty hilarious to me. At some point in my childhood, my grandma dug out my mom and uncle's old 1970's skateboards and gave my mother's to my siblings and me. I'm not going to beat around the bush: these things were and are death traps. They're way narrower and shorter than modern skateboards, and don't leave a lot of room for your feet, making it way harder to balance on them. My mom joked in order to make these pictures fully authentic, Julie should be face down on the pavement and have band aids all over her knees and elbows.

The skateboard we inherited was purchased in California, because, as my mom put it "we weren't cool enough to have them yet" on the east coast. The first day back from their trip, my mom couldn't wait to show it off in the neighborhood and almost immediately after getting on it fell off, which took a giant chunk of her knee out, which she then awkwardly tried to hide behind her skateboard when her cousin spotted her. It didn't work, and the jig was up. And that's why I got excited about Julie's skateboard set.

Anyway, on to the smoothie.

The history of blended, chilled fruit drinks goes way farther back than 1970's America, but it wasn't until blenders became a common fixture in American households that recipes for smoothies started popping up in American cookbooks. Even then, they enjoyed a slow rise in popularity until people started becoming more and more interested in health food, finally really starting to explode onto the scene in the 1960's and 70's. Although we'll likely never know who was the first person to call one of these drinks a smoothie, the first time the word smoothie was trademarked was in the mid 1970's by California Smoothie Company, and the word itself allegedly comes from hippies.

These early 60's and 70's era smoothies were generally just mixtures of ice, fruit and juice, which can often make for a runny smoothie, although it's a great alternative to a milkshake for anyone who suffers from lactose intolerance! Which is actually how some smoothie recipes got started, interestingly enough. That's not really how I enjoy mine, so the recipe I'm sharing with you today is how I like my smoothies, not necessarily how Julie and Ivy would have enjoyed them during their childhood. Thickening agents like yogurt, ice cream, sherbert and even cottage cheese are more recent additions. Because I was making more than just a drink for myself, I used two 5 oz cups of vanilla Greek yogurt. If you're only making a drink for yourself, you can split these portions roughly in half and get a satisfying quasi meal from it.

My favorite kind of smoothie also uses frozen fruit instead of ice. You still get that nice, cold temperature, but it doesn't water down the drink at all. The one I made today has about two cups of frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and one half of a frozen banana. You can freeze your own fruit, or buy them from the frozen section of just about any grocery store.

To give it a little more liquid and make it easier to blend, I add in about a half cup to a cup of orange juice. This is definitely something you can eyeball depending on how thick you want your smoothie to be.

Blend it, and you're done!

I garnished mine with some extra frozen blueberries so everyone knew what had gone into it.

And you're ready to enjoy!

I'll admit, I actually haven't made one in a while, and taking the time to make one today was a lot of fun. I think I've got to start getting back in the habit, because they're definitely one of the most refreshing and satisfying things you can snack on. The immersion blender did a really nice job of chopping everything up, too, so that was an exciting discovery since we're still missing a stand blender! And chunky, not mixed together smoothies aren't fun for anyone.

Smoothies are seriously a great (or, dare I say, groovy) go to meal substitute if you're not good at figuring out creative things to eat for breakfast or lunch, and they're easy to customize to your exact dietary wants and needs. It's definitely fun that they're something you can throw together for friends with certain dietary restrictions too, considering I know that's something my lactose intolerant friends have found frustrating while attending parties. It wouldn't be difficult to make one batch for people who want yogurt or ice cream in theirs and one who wouldn't!

So when you're looking for something different to snack on this summer, remember you don't need to drive down to your local smoothie shop to have a tasty, easy to make and customize treat that can help you get in touch with the groovy drinks of the 1970's. Have fun!

Hope your June is off to a good start!


  1. *From Julie's doll mom:*

    Hi Gwen!

    I was a skateboader myself back in the 70s, and I just had to buy that SE set. (I did a review on it, YouTube name Hardygirl66). I love smoothies too! I have one of those Magic Bullet things, and I love it!

    1. Good to know! We've been talking about getting a real blender before, and you're the second person to say you like Magic Bullet. Might be time to look into buying one!

  2. What a fun visit down memory lane! Gosh how I remember how your uncle and I begged for skateboards to bring home. Your grandmother was not pleased with Papa for conceding in our favor. And man that stupid scrape just wouldn't go away! It took forever to heal and if you look carefully you can still see the scare. Thanks for the Julie post.

    1. Thanks for providing the inspiration! I love being able to take a trip down memory lane with you for things like this. :)