Green smoothies are all the rage.

But I’ve just not developed a taste for kale, spinach, broccoli or any other green vegetable in my smoothies and prefer to stick to my fruit concoctions.

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A banana is a great start to the day. In recent years, bananas have received some bad press because they do not score as low on the Glycaemic Index (GI) as many other fruits and vegetables. But, as this really excellent guide explains, there are weaknesses in using the GI to assess food – you have to eat a lot more of some foods to hit the 50 grams of digestible carbs on which the score is calculated than you do for others – although bananas have a GI score of around 50 (depending on ripeness) you’d need to eat 3 bananas to hit that 50 grams of digestible carbs. It’s also worth remembering that the GI doesn’t take into account the nutritional benefits (or lack of them) of different types of food – crisps are only a touch higher than bananas in terms of their GI score! A banana for breakfast not only keeps me feeling full for quite a few hours, it is also a good source of fibre, potassium, magnesium and vitamins C and B6.

Recently I’ve been drinking even more matcha than usual, after writing an article all about it for a recent issue of Good Things magazine. Although the method of grinding tea leaves into a powder originated in China, it was not until the practice reached Japan by way of Zen Buddhist monks that it developed into the drink we know today. Matcha is traditionally made by stone grinding green leaves of shade-grown tea (gyokuro). Before grinding the leaves are dried, de-veined and de-stemmed, in this state they are known as tencha. Growing tea in shade slows down the growth, stimulating an increase in chlorophyll levels. This turns the leaves a darker shade of green and causes the production of amino acids, in particular L-Theanine, which provides a distinctive umami flavour. L-Theanine is also claimed to reduce stress, sharpen cognitive performance and improve mood, especially when combined with caffeine, as it is in matcha.

Prunes – dried plums – have long been used as a mild natural laxative, although there’s no real evidence that they’re any more effective than other fruits and vegetables that are good sources of dietary fibre, bananas included. But I love their rich flavour, and they’re a great natural sweetener.

Of course, the dark colour of prunes turns what would otherwise be a brighter green smoothie into a less visually attractive brown one, so feel to substitute with dried dates or apricots, or a generous squirt of honey or maple syrup, each of which will create a quite different flavour profile for your 3 ingredient smoothie.

3 Ingredient Breakfast Smoothie | Banana, Prune & Matcha

Ingredients
1 large banana, peeled – about 125 grams peeled weight
2-3 teaspoons matcha (Japanese green tea powder)
60 grams pitted dried prunes*
1 cup of water, or more for a thinner smoothie

* substitute with dried dates, dried apricots, honey or maple syrup if preferred.

Method

  • Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth.
  • Pour into a glass and drink straight away.

Tip: My Froothie Optimum power blender makes quick work of even the toughest dried fruits, but if yours is not as effective, soak the dried fruits in water for 30 minutes before blending – you can use the soaking water in the smoothie too.

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For more fruit smoothie inspiration check out:

 

My old blender is not only ancient and decrepit but also bottom of the range, with a wobbly base and a plastic jug. We’ve had it more years than I can remember. It may even have been “inherited” (read “liberated”) from my parents before we got married, now I think of it… and that was over 15 years ago!

When you switch it on the blades kick in at full speed, throwing half the ingredients up the sides of the jug and onto the underside of the lid where they stick, impudent and unrepentant, until I pause, lift the lid, and force them back down towards the blades with a spatula, before blitzing again. This cycle is repeated, with increasing frustration and increasingly obscene swearing until Pete takes over, with a sigh and banishes me from the kitchen.

The old thing struggles with anything but the softest of ingredients and certainly doesn’t cope well with chunks of solid fruit let alone ice-cubes. Which is a shame, as I rather like blending ice-cubes into a smoothie or lassi on a hot summer day, something I have stopped doing for fear of the motor exploding. So terrifying is the idea of throwing solid chunks of green apple into it’s maw that I’ve switched to using the Magimix to make Indian green chutney, something one would usually do in a blender.

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oldtimer

Still, it does cope with smoothies, as long as I stick to really soft fruit – no ice and no frozen fruit.

So, you can probably imagine my utter delight, ecstasy, elation, euphoria, exhilaration, glee, hysteria, joyousness, jubilation… when I was sent this extremely sexy Philips Robust blender.

I wasn’t asked to post about it on my blog, but simply to try it out and let them know what I think. But actually, having now used it a few times, I’m so excited about it, I have to share!

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Robust Robbie

I’d actually read about this particular model (HR2181) online some months previously, so I already knew all about the dual-blade system (two stainless-steel serrated blades), the auto-accelerate function, the five different speed settings and the pulse option. And the 2-litre scratch-proof glass jar.

The auto-accelerate function is particularly cunning, especially in combination with the two blades which rotate in opposite directions and at different speeds. Instead of throwing the contents of the jug up the sides, the blades start rotating slowly, so they are able to bite into the ingredients, and the speed is gradually increased in a roaring crescendo of power!

(And no, I didn’t just lift that paragraph from some marketing blurb, I wrote it myself).

“Robust Robbie”, as I’ve named him, arrived the day before we left for a week’s holiday in the Lake District and, persuaded against taking him with us, I was impatient to put Robbie through his paces when we got home.

I decided to make his very first test fairly straightforward – a fruit smoothie. Of course, I had to give him a bit of a challenge so I included some large, rock-solid frozen strawberries, straight out of the freezer and given absolutely no time to defrost.

Test 1 – Fresh and Frozen Fruit Smoothie

I love smoothies, preferably thick’n’gloopy and preferably home-made. I nearly always use banana as the base and add whatever other fruit I fancy and have available.

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smoothie ingredients: fresh banana, fresh pear and some previously frozen fresh whole strawberries

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probably no need to hold the lid down but old habits die hard

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and in a few quick moments, it’s done

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delicious

Test 2 – Chocolate Bar Milkshake

Chatting to my a friend at work, I swooned a little about my new amour, Robbie and she immediately suggested a chocolate bar milkshake.

Her idea reminded me instantly of my second visit to Market Kitchen during which King Adz blitzed some Dime bars to make a quick and easy milkshake.

A quick scout around the house revealed an elderly mars bar and a battered kit kat. Into the jug they went with a pint of milk.

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blink and they’re gone

I turned Robbie on for just a few short seconds and my milkshake was ready.

In retrospect, biscuity bars like kit kat have no place in a milkshake – the biscuit texture remains even when blended to smithereens.

Next time I’ll try a Snicker bar or some plain chocolate or some chocolate covered Turkish delight.

What do you suggest?

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Test 3 – Chicken Liver Paté

For Robbie’s third test, I made vast amounts of my chicken liver and port paté – the jug was almost full of cooked chicken livers and onions and artery-hardening amounts of butter. As expected, I was left with a smooth, pourable liquid in no time. Success!


I’ve become very attached to Robbie in the short time he’s been with us. I stroke his elegant silver body on passing and admire his sleek glass jug on the draining board.

I’m looking for more challenges for him, perhaps mum’s green mango and coriander chutney – my old blender simply can’t manage solid chunks of the sharp, hard green apples I use in place of raw mangoes.

I want to try some thick sauce and dips too as I hear from other testers that Robbie may meet his match with such sticky, viscous challenges.

If you have any ideas on recipes to Challenge Robbie, please let me know!

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