Natural sugars don’t count- part 2: Raspberry & almond smoothie.

Some foods should not be tampered with.  Fresh, juicy tomatoes; a little salt, maybe some olive oil, but nothing more should detract from them.  Freshly made sweet pancakes; fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar to make them perfect.  Freshly baked bread; some good butter is all you need.

My problem, is that I mess things up by over-complicating them.  I look for new ways to enliven familiar dishes.  Putting twists on classic meals gives me a secret buzz, but inevitably ruins the meals I’m trying to bring to life.  There’s a reason that some things become “classic”.  They were good in the first place and they don’t require a tune up.  Why can’t I just leave things alone?

You know what I’m talking about, right?  That unnecessary topping on an otherwise perfect pizza.  One ingredient too many in the smoothie that would have been fine.  It’s sad to say, but I’m so guilty of messing up perfectly good combinations that it’s a wonder anybody in my family is still willing to try my creations.

There is, however, one bit of tampering that I don’t feel guilty about and one that yields good results every time.  It’s what I could refer to as “The Excess Sugar Technique”.  Spotting a legitimate opportunity for sugar, I simply crank up the amount until it is sweet enough to qualify as a dessert and therefore sweet enough for me.  Exhibit A; my raspberry and almond smoothie.

I realised that smoothies could be enjoyed in a way that is not really intended or endorsed by those with an interest in health.  It wasn’t long before I was having a ‘treat smoothie’ every now and again, instead of the usual healthy glass of fruit and yoghurt.  Far be it from me to recommend this as a regular alternative to your protein-packed blended wonders.  Instead, the next time you are feeling subversive, reach for the caster sugar and load up.

Raspberry & almond smoothie

300ml semi-skimmed milk

2 scoops raspberry ripple ice-cream

150g frozen raspberries

4 tblspoons caster sugar

2 tblspoons Greek yoghurt

1 tspoon almond extract

Blend everything together until smooth.  I sometimes add a couple of soft Amaretti biscuits before blending, but this is optional.

Honey & cinnamon smoothie

I’ve never liked the taste of milk.  Even as a youngster, I was one of the children who did not have milk at school and though I tried desperately to like it, my opinion did not change over the years.

Chocolate milk is a different story altogether.  Early memories of drinking it through a straw dropped into the triangular hole made by my mum’s tin opener remain with me to this day.  There was a rabbit on the front of the tin and complete contentment in my whole being.  Chocolate milk soothes me in a way that very few other food stuffs do.  Super cold, super sweet and super refreshing.  It evokes memories of being in my mum’s kitchen in Greece and it comforts me no end.  Childish, yes, but it has benefits too, since I need my share of calcium and protein too.  Okay, the sugar doesn’t benefit my teeth, but ask me if I’m worried.

Chocolate milk may be my go-to drink at any time of day, but after years of hitting the stuff hard, my eyes began to wander.  I needed a new sweet milky drink.  Drinking Carnation condensed milk wasn’t gonna be sustainable.  Thankfully, upon moving to Hong Kong, I found a wonderful smoothie joint that had an endless menu of smoothies with all kinds of exciting ingredients and combinations.  I quickly became hooked on these fruit-filled blends of health and goodness.  It wasn’t long before I’d purchased my own blender, partly so that I could experiment, and largely because my wife could see that I was spending a silly amount of money on what was essentially ice and mushy fruit.

I’m not the biggest fan of fruit so blending them up with other tasty ingredients is ideal for me.  After moving back to England, the blender went into the back of the cupboard.  “Next to the toastie machine?” I hear you ask.  No!  I make toasties all the time!  What’s the matter with you?

Now I’m back in full blender mode and throwing in all sorts to appease my monstrous desire for tasty fun.  I went through a phase of adding milk, chocolate milk powder and a slice of cherry pie before blending it all.  I’ve been going through packets of Oreos in recent weeks as they have found themselves thrown into the milky depths of my blender.  Today, I tried something a little more healthy.  I blended 450ml semi-skimmed milk, 5 tablespoons of honey flavoured Greek style yoghurt, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of Greek mountain honey.  It was delicious, but not sugary enough for me, so I threw in a load of Demerara sugar to make it hit the spot.  I’ll be trying lot’s of different things over the next few weeks, but if anyone has any suggestions, let me know and I’ll give ’em a whirl!

There seems to be a theme here…