Recipe: Strawberry-Basil Smoothies

These Strawberry-Basil Smoothies are my new favorite. While the taste of the Basil comes through loud and clear, it’s a much mellower herb than I would have ever guessed.  The use of fresh strawberries instead of frozen gives the drink a lovely light texture, and the avocado really smooths things out, hiding the fibrous-ness of an apple in it’s creaminess. 

I promise the recipe is at the end of this post.  But first, I’m excited to share about 2 wonderful things that led to the creation of this smoothie:

1. Our Container Garden

Lately, Mike has been really excited about Gardening.  As a lover of fresh fruits & veggies, I’m so excited that he’s excited!  Last August, after living in a tiny city apartment, we finally moved to a place with a small outdoor space where we could finally grow things.  As it was late in the season when we moved, last year we just had a few potted herbs.  

This year, we expanded our garden a little more, to include Tomatoes, Strawberries, 2 kinds of Basil, and Parsley.  We started a family tradition by having Mike’s parents over for dinner late this spring – while I cooked, Mike and his Dad did the planting together.

Our Tomato and Strawberry plants are doing very well, though we’ve actually gotten very little to eat from them thanks to a squirrel in the neighborhood that usually gets them first.  That same squirrel also dug a hole in our Parsley plant earlier this season, and it has had a slow recovery.

Hands down, the plants that we use the most (and that have saved us the most money at the grocery store!) are our two basil plants: the large-leafed Sweet Basil and a smaller-leafed Spicy Basil.  Both are delicious, but we actually prefer the Spicy Basil.  Best of all, our plants are so full and healthy, that I am able to chop off huge amounts of basil each week and it quickly grows back.  I’ve been making pestos and drinks like Basil-Lemonade all summer thanks to these beauties:

2. The Best Gift Ever!

The best gift ever actually is the event that led up to a pretty amazing item that I now proudly own.  Earlier this summer, Mike and I got the most wonderful surprise.  On his Mom’s birthday, we went to pick up his parents to take them out to lunch.  We truly thought this was the plan, and in fact I had even changed our reservation that morning to a restaurant that I knew would have a veggie burger for me.  But when we arrived at Mike’s parents house, I learned that I’d need to cancel the new reservation too – in lieu of celebrating his Mom’s birthday, his parents had planned to celebrate US!  Our friends were hiding in their kitchen for a surprise engagement party!

I didn’t take any pictures that day (except for the 1 below with Mike’s parents), preferring to just enjoy the time with our friends and family.  It was so wonderful to have a small, low-key gathering with just a few close friends and family.  We ordered Pita Inn (delicious Falafel & Hummus!), took a walk (it was a perfect summer day), ate too much cake (two kinds!), and even received a few presents.

One of our presents took my breath away: a Vitamix Blender!  I wasn’t even sure if we’d receive one for our wedding, let alone getting one several months before then.  I was giddy :-)

Ever since that day, I’ve been hooked on our new Vitamix.  I loved my old Food Processor, but honestly, I don’t think I’ve used it once since.  Mike and I totally geeked out, even watching Vitamix videos online which were really impressive – did you know you can put whole wheat berries in the Vitamix to make fresh flour?  And not only is it super powerful, it’s so easy to clean.

We love our Vitamix so much, we even brought it with us to Mike’s parents house later this summer when we spent a weekend at their place.

I started getting into the Smoothie habit a few times a week earlier this summer using my Immersion Blender, but with the Vitamix at home, we have smoothies nearly every day now.  I love food too much to ever consider using smoothies as a meal replacement, but I am loving them as a way to refuel after my workouts (soymilk + fruit = protein + sugar for optimal recovery) or as snacks in place of our usual evening munchies.

From all of that Smoothie-Making, this Strawberry Basil Smoothie is the best one I’ve created so far.  I’ve made it multiple times, trying both fresh and frozen strawberries and experimenting with apple juice as well as a whole apple. The formula below was the winner, with all whole-food ingredients, a truly smooth and creamy texture, and the perfect balance of sweet strawberries & spicy basil.  If you choose to use frozen strawberries, you can skip the ice cubes and plan to add extra liquid.

Recipe: Strawberry Basil Smoothies

Servings: 2 large (16oz) or 4 small (8oz)

Ingredients:

  • 16oz Organic* Fresh Strawberries, rinsed and drained (you can leave the stems on!)
  • 1 medium Organic* Apple, quartered and seeded (I use Fuji or Gala)
  • 1/2 small Avocado
  • 1/3 cup packed basil (I used a mix of both Sweet Basil & Spicy Basil)
  • 1 cup packed Organic* Baby Spinach
  • 6 large ice-cubes
Directions:
Place ingredients into the blender in the order listed.  Blend until smooth, pausing to scrape down the sides or add splashes of water as needed.
 
*Organic ingredients recommended for produce on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list.

Bonus Tip: Keep your Spinach Fresh

I always keep a tub of Baby Spinach in my fridge for Smoothies, using a handful or two at a time throughout the week.  The spinach usually started to wilt before I used it all, until I learned this trick.  Now it sometimes stays fresh for more than a week!
 
Simply place a folded paper-towel into the container with the Spinach and it will absorb the extra moisture from the fridge.  
 
I can’t remember who taught me this, I think it was Katie.  If so, thank you – it really, truly works!

Bonus Recipe: Strawberry-Basil Pasta Salad

After I fell in love with my Strawberry-Basil Smoothies, my ears perked up when Jeni mentioned a Strawberry-Basil Pasta Salad she’d made from the blog Daily Garnish.
 
I made it for our last Book Club and it was a hit – I saw several people go for seconds.  I’d even go so far to say that it was the best thing I’ve ever brought to book-club!
 
If you like the Strawberry-Basil combo, definitely give this pasta salad a try!
  
I’d love to hear from you!
 
Have you used fresh herbs in Smoothies before?
 
What’s your favorite way to use fresh herbs?
 
You can chat more on this topic or get additional ideas (Rosemary in Smoothies?) in the Vegan Mainstream Cookbook Club!
 

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I’ve linked up my recipe at two Healthy, Vegan recipe swaps.  Check ‘em out to find more great recipes!

Everyday Vegan Girl