Cheers to the last days of summer
I like to fill out a summer meal with a fruit smoothie as they're cool, refreshing, surprisingly filling for a drink, easy on a weeknight, and a healthy alternative for that ice cream craving. The challenge is that fruit can be expensive, difficult to keep fresh for whenever the craving hits, and a pain to chop up on a busy hot night. Because of this I wholeheartedly rely on the freezer method as it streamlines the whole process (and frozen ingredients create a better smoothie texture anyways). It's all about the prep work beforehand so I wait until fruit goes on sale or when it's super fresh at the farmer's market, chop it all up right when I get back home (which is manageable if you make some time on the weekend), and freeze it in individual sandwich size ziploc bags. Each ziploc contains an equal mix of fruit so I can just pull a frozen bag out when I need it, toss a couple other items in the blender, and wahlah: two large (or three tumbler sized) smoothies!
My go to version is the classic strawberry/banana/orange juice combo but recently I found some discounted and unusual fruits at our grocer. They don't come in stock often and make for a great flavor combo, so I made my move. If you can't find these at your grocer, fill up a bag with whatever combination of fruit you like and add the other ingredients listed below, changing up the flavors (but not the amounts) of the yogurt, sorbet, and juice ice cubes to complement them.
Prickly Pear and Papaya Freezer Smoothies
(makes 4 ziploc bags full/8 smoothies)
(remove skin with potato peeler, scoop out seeds with a spoon, cut into big cubes)
4 prickly pears
(remove skin with paring knife, quarter and scrape off seeds, slice into big chunks)
(remove peel and slice into 1/2 inch medallions)
Divide the papaya equally among 4 sandwich size plastic bags. Add in 1 banana and 1 prickly pear to each, seal, and freeze. These can be frozen for up to 8 months but I don't think we've ever taken that long to use up our smoothie ingredients.
The inside of prickly pears can be yellow, orange, or deep red like these.
When you are ready to make some, take a bag from the freezer and let it thaw just until the fruit begins to separate from each other. Most days, I just zap it on defrost mode in the microwave for 10–20 seconds so that it's still frozen, but not as hard as a rock when it goes into the blender. Once ready, add to the blender:
1/4 cup yogurt
(Avoid those fake sugary ones—I like Glen Oaks drinkable low-fat yogurt with probiotics for smoothies as they have a ton of complimentary flavors but you can use just about any.)
1 cup mango sorbet
(which is naturally fat free!)
3-4 guava juice ice cubes
(you can find affordable tropical juice flavors in small cans in the Mexican grocery isle. Just freeze it in your ice cube trays, transfer to a ziploc, and pull some out whenever you need them.).
Blend thoroughly and serve immediately. Pad yourself on the back for making friends with your freezer and revel in how delicious being thrifty, organized, and healthy can be!
A note on prickly pears...
Also known as cactus pears, these little guys have a ton of antioxidants in them and are crazy good but they are full of seeds. You can scrape them off the flesh, some will break up if blended thoroughly, and they are completely edible if you just swallow and do not try to chew them...it's up to you. The fruit tastes so incredible and is such a fun food that I don't mind dealing with them one way or another. If you get them from the store, they will likely be removed of any prickly outer thorns (hence the name) but be careful if you are harvesting them from the cactus itself!