I think one of the very first things I ever "cooked" by myself was a banana smoothie. I love bananas and always have (when I was little, one of my favorite snacks was a banana wrapped in "wrapped-up cheese"...that's what we called Kraft Singles...how gross is that???).
We always had a HORRIBLE blender growing up...you know the kind you buy from the grocery store that leaves chunks of ice in your drink? That's what we always had!
When I moved into my first house (my senior year in college), I bought an Oster from Target... it served its purpose and I still have it. When I moved to Houston I left the Oster for Hil (she likes a good margarita!) and bought the Cooks Illustrated #1 rated blender. At the time, the Braun PowerMax MX2050 was the highest rated so that's what I bought (for less than $50), and I love it! But last month, Cooks updated their blender rating...and the winner? The KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender Model KSB580, but its a little pricey ($150). The runner up was the Kalorik BL Blender Model 16909 for a reasonable $50.
Enough about blenders and onto the smoothie. I start with a banana (small to medium...and sometimes its frozen) and then add about 1 cup of milk (skim), a splash of vanilla (or almond) extract, a good pinch of cinnamon, and then blend. Once this is all blended I start adding ice cubes, a few at a time, until the smoothie starts to thicken up (I like mine really thick and frozen...especially when I plan on taking it with me to the pool or beach!!!). I taste it and decide if it needs sugar...if it does I add 1 tsp at a time until its slightly sweet and that's it. If its too thick add more milk...to thin, more ice!
I do this with other fruit too. I bought a ton of champagne mangoes from Whole Foods today to take to the beach...mango smoothies for breakfast Jess - get excited! Just blend a mango (peeled of course), some milk and a little Greek yogurt, plus sugar and ice and you have a delicious mango lassi!
Or start with frozen strawberries and blend with 1 cup of orange juice...to make it creamy add a banana or some strawberry yogurt.
Always add sugar last, after you have tasted it. You may be able to get away with less! And when I say sugar, I really mean any kind of sweetener...honey, agave, etc.
recipe (above) by me
Per serving (one large smoothie with 2 tsp sugar) - 231 calories, 1 g fat (.5 g saturated), 49 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 10 g protein (exchanges: 2 fruit, 1 dairy, ½ starch)
By the way, I have a few rules when it comes to smoothies (homemade or purchased). If it's going to be a snack...keep it under 250 calories (which can be hard to do away from home). For a meal its okay if its between 300 and 400 calories. At Smoothie King, order it skinny and order a small (20 ounce).
I find that smoothies don't keep me satisfied for very long...I get hungry once all of the liquid has left my stomach. So when I know my next meal is going to be sooner than later, I'll let myself have a smoothie for my meal. For example, today I ran the lakes from 8:30 - 9:30 and then made a smoothie for breakfast around 10...because I knew I would have lunch around 12 or 12:30. If lunch would have been any later, the smoothie wouldn't have been enough (and in that case I would have had something solid, like an apple, for a hold-me-over snack).