Thursday, February 16, 2012

Paleo Smoothies: Shaking Things Up, With Precision

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Recipe for Disaster

This installment of the Paleo diet will piggyback on the smoothie. A home-blended shake is the Paleo Way for a refreshing quick snack or meal replacement, but it has to taste good. Thanks to valuable feedback from my readers, I want to clarify how to make a most superior smoothie.

I’m using as examples my two favorite options for home shakes, the Chocolate Almond and Spicy Tomato. One sweet, the other savory, both high in fat with substantial protein and low in carbs with no sugar.

Cold Equation

A few factors will factor into your success with homemade shakes. Ingredients are key. Precision in measurement is important, but you might have to make some adjustments. And finally, decent equipment will always aid the food process.

Ingredients Are Key

Using my two favorite recipes as examples let’s take a look first at Chocolate Almond.

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This is a coconut milk-based concoction. The best coconut milk I have found is Thai Kitchen coconut milk. Get the organic if you can, but you definitely want to get the full-fat version, unsweetened. It can be found in your grocery in the ethnic food aisle. Shake the can really well before you start because the milk separates.

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The lite version is mostly water so it’s devoid of flavor and the creamy consistency and useful fat that your body needs.

Next, the recipe calls for three tablespoons almond butter, but it can be quite bitter if you add too much. You will definitely experience an acrimonious aftermath if you OD on almond butter.

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Whole Foods 365 almond butter, unsalted, is the best brand I’ve found. Buy the creamy and add it with discretion. Almond butter gives you your protein and lends a rich earthy deep flavor to the shake, but too much can be overkill and once it’s in the mix it’s hard to rectify the matter, even by diluting with other ingredients.

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The almond butter should contain only dry roasted almonds as its ingredient. There will be some separation on the top of the jar with the natural oils that rise to the top. Give it a good stir to distribute well for a creamy consequence.

While I was in Arizona recently for the distinguished Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, I noticed the almond butter seemed stronger and more pungent than in the San Francisco Bay Area. Maybe it’s a regional thing, an isolated incident in the batch I bought, or perhaps it was just my imagination, but whatever the case I found I needed to use less product. So when handling almond butter, proceed with caution.

With regard to the cocoa powder, I’ve tried a few varieties but keep coming back to good old Hershey’s. It’s been around since 1894, and a fixture in my mom’s kitchen for as long as I can remember. I don’t think we’ve ever used anything else, and the results are reliable.

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Now let’s examine my second recipe, the Spicy Tomato.

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It’s undeniably unique as far as smoothies are concerned and exactly opposite of what you’d expect a smoothie to be, but trust me when I tell you that it’s mucho rico.

When choosing spinach, I prefer frozen over fresh.

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That way, I always have some on hand and don’t have to worry about it spoiling, plus, it only adds to the thick, cool, frothy result that you’ll relish with gusto. Aim for organic.

The ingredients in the Spicy Tomato smoothie are more forgiving for miscalculation than Chocolate Almond. A little experimentation may be necessary to achieve the taste you desire. I always end up adding quite a bit of salt, just because that’s the kind of girl I am.

Adjustments

With both shakes you want to start by following the directions at first, then take liberties later, making alterations for good taste.

Decent Equipment for a Smooth Operator

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For smooth, satisfying texture, you’ll need a decent blender. The Vitamix 5200 is the Rolls Royce of blenders, but at around 500 bills, that’s a hefty price tag.

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America’s Test Kitchen highly recommends the KitchenAid 5-Speed, $99.99. It scores high marks for all-purpose blending.

Being in the market for a good smoothie blender myself, I will probably end up purchasing the Hamilton Beach Dual Wave Blender, $79.99, but it’s currently sold out.

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It’s got a wide jar for adding ingredients with ease and two side-by-side dual-action blades that tag-team to pulverize ingredients for a smooth finished product. I hate big chunks of ice in my smoothies, and this blender promises to destroy them. Although it’s not considered the best for all-purpose blending, it’s a top-achiever for frozen drinks, and that’s what I’m seeking.

Sometimes things don’t turn out quite the way you’d hoped, which can be disappointing. If your shake tastes bad you’re not going to want it, which defies the concept of a quick healthy Paleo meal.

Hopefully these tips will help. Please keep the comments coming, and see you soon when we get back to the Food Predators.

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