Friday, 3 August 2012

Frugal Friday - Tropical Banana Smoothies

Today I had some over-ripe bananas that needed using up.  It's really difficult to stop bananas from becoming too ripe.  Apparently you can buy a special sort of bag for keeping them in, but I haven't got one of these.  I try to keep them separate from other fruits as this can cause them to ripen too quickly, and I also do tend to keep them in their packaging, because unlike other fruits, this also seems to prevent them from ripening too fast.  As we only shop once a week (it wouldn't be convenient to shop more often than this, and although there are stores nearby that do sell fruit and vegetables, they are more expensive than the supermarket, so we try to buy enough to last us all week) I do find that we sometimes have a few bananas by the end of the week that are really too ripe to be pleasant to eat just as they are.  But that doesn't mean they have to be wasted!

You can use bananas that are too ripe to make banana bread or muffins, which I often do (our favourite banana muffin recipe can be found here on the Taste Of Home website).  But today, I decided to make banana smoothies instead.

Smoothies have gained a lot of popularity in recent years for being a "superfood" - a quick and easy way to get lots of vitamins and minerals, without much effort.  There are thousands of smoothie recipes available online for inspiration, and even blogs and websites dedicated just to them!  We agree that they're a great way to get your "five-a-day", especially for those who are not keen on the taste of fruits of vegetables, or who dislike the texture of them when whole, but we aren't so sure about some of the hype that surrounds them which implies that there is something superior nutritionally about taking your vitamins in the form of pulverised fruit and vegetables, rather simply eating them as nature packaged them.   If you are keen on smoothies, they can work out as a very expensive way to get your fruit and vegetable dose for the day - especially if you have lots of mouths to feed, because as you are getting a big dose of goodies in each smoothie, to provide enough fresh produce to make a large quantity of smoothie each day would work out more expensive than to just eat a normal quantity fruit or vegetables in their whole form.  It isn't actually better for your health to overdose on vitamins.  While a smoothie is a great way to condense lots of goodies into one drink, it isn't nutritionally necessary to consume them if you are eating a varied, balanced diet which includes whole fruit and vegetables anway.    Also you do need a bit of kit to be able to make the more sophisticated ones - things like blenders and juicers, which we don't have, so we tend to avoid the very fancy recipes.  But there's no denying that smoothies are delicious, and extremely good for you!  We do often have them for breakfast anyways, but as with today, although they weren't on the menu for breakfast this morning, I made enough for everyone to have a small glass with their waffles and fruit.

Here is the recipe that I used.  Unlike many smoothie recipes, using just overripe bananas, canned peaches and crushed pineapple means that you don't need to use a proper jug blender (though they will be great if you do have one).  I use my basic wand blender, which cost £5, and they work out fine.

To serve 2 for a main breakfast dish, or 4 as part of one ...

4 overripe bananas
1 14 oz can peaches (apricots would work well too)
1 can crushed pineapple (in England the only brand of this that I can get is Del Monte)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pint semi-skimmed milk

Use a large jug or high sided bowl to mix the smoothie if you are using a wand blender.  If you have a jug blender, simply follow the manufacturer's instructions as usual.

1.  Peel and chop the bananas.  Place them in the jug or bowl with the well drained peaches and the crushed pineapple (I don't drain this first).

2.  Add the spices and milk, and give it a quick stir.

3.  Whizz it up until well blended.  We aren't keen on really thick smoothies, so depending on how large the bananas were, I may add a little more milk. 

If you use really ripe bananas for this recipe then there is no need to sweeten it (in fact I wouldn't anyway, as the cinnamon also lends a nice sweetness to this, though Papa Bear does like it with a little maple syrup too!).  Sometimes I add a tablespoon of oatmeal, or wheatgerm (the latter will also boost the nutritent qualities of this smoothie, especially the B vitamins).  You may want to add some yogurt, but we prefer it just as it is.  Yum!