...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Food journal number 40: Smoothies and shakes

Summer is without doubt the best time for shopping food up here in Sweden. There are simply more fruit and vegetable choices, and they look fresher and are cheaper than they are at any other time of the year. Now that I've bought a 60-day bus card for the summer, I've also rediscovered the joys of shopping in the large groceries outside the town center, where they have even cheaper and fresher food choices and an ever bigger variety of fruits and vegetables. When we had the time and the motivation, we usually biked out to these large groceries for our big purchases. We haven't been able to do that for a while, but seeing our grocery bill from today's trip to Willy:s (one of the big groceries) reminded me that sometimes, it really is worth the effort to go there. Both frozen berries and fresh summer fruit were on average a third cheaper than they are in the centrally-located groceries.

Alternatively, and as another good thing about Swedish summers, you can buy your food directly from a farm (that is, if it grows in Sweden). We did this last weekend on the way back home from Margareta's bike race in Motala. Signs by small countryside roads direct you to farms where you can buy locally-produced strawberries, ecological eggs, asparagus and cheesecake (Swedish, ostkaka, not to be mistaken for American cheesecake), among other things.

We bought strawberries. They were large, fresh, juicy, and were plucked literally a few meters away from the stall from where you buy them from. I had the idea of turning them to milkshake, which might be considered a pity for such fresh and good-looking strawberries. But there you go, it tasted good anyway and it was refreshing on such a hot day. :-) I adapted the recipe from something I found online as we didn't have a lot of ice cream left that day.

Strawberry milkshake for three

1.5 deciliters (0.6 cup) vanilla or strawberry ice cream
2.5 deciliters (1 cup) milk
12-15 strawberries
5 ice cubes

Combine, pulse in the blender, and enjoy!

I tried not to kill the fresh strawberries too much by blending them to death, because when you do use fresh instead of frozen, you should be able to enjoy the difference. However, milkshake with fresh strawberries is unfortunately only slightly better than frozen-strawberry milkshake. That's my opinion anyway. Marcus and Margareta said they liked it, but I wasn't 100% satisfied. Also, I may be wrong, but I just have the impression that overripe strawberries might be sweeter and more suitable just where milkshakes are concerned.

Despite my bias for fresh fruit, there are actually benefits to frozen fruit as well. Fresh fruit, especially when out of season and therefore imported from abroad, have to be cultivated to last the long journey here. There are some articles that claim that long transportation times affect the vitamin content of fruit and that vitamin C in particular is lost during transport. Frozen fruit, on the other hand, are frozen shortly after plucking, increasing the chances that the vitamins are still contained in them. In short, fresh fruit (especially those that are not locally grown) are not always the best, even when we psychologically think they are.

Besides, another plus is that you can get local fruit in frozen form even when they're off-season. And even in-season, they're cheaper than their fresh counterparts. All this is good because we can keep a fairly high fruit consumption throughout the year, which is something that we're trying to do now since starting our running program. We're trying to make it a point to drink smoothies, especially blueberry smoothies (Blueberries contain a lot of antioxidants one needs when physically active). We also make our smoothies with yogurt, which apparently is better for lactose intolerants like myself because the bacteria culture turns the lactose into lactic acid, saving me from bad gas.

Smoothie, 2 small servings

2.5 deciliters (1 cup) mild natural yogurt
half a banana
1 deciliter (0.4 cup) frozen blueberries
or 1 kiwi
or 1 deciliter raspberries

Combine, pulse in the blender, and enjoy! It's thicker and sweeter than milkshake and you'll be surprised that fruit could taste so sweet in their natural form (BTW a simple shake with oranges and bananas, without yogurt, is also surprisingly sweet without sugar). In fact, we're not using all too much sugar nowadays that we've scrapped that out of our pantry altogether. Muscovado sugar is another story though; it's good in coffee from time to time :-)


Anonymous Lara said...

we dont have a blender :-/ ...yet

10:31 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

I recommend an immersion blender (stavmixer) -- it's good for everything! We're also slowly accumulating kitchen stuff on a what-we-need basis, but our kitchen is so small that we hardly have space to put new things in. Here's where a stavmixer is a plus, because it doesn't take up space.

7:17 AM

Anonymous flowercarole said...

Hello, I came across your blog this morning and enjoyed it very much. You made me laugh when you said 'I tried not to kill the fresh strawberries too much by blending them to death'. I have been running a free smoothie website for years now (www.flowercarole.com) and I get all types of smoothies sent to me, some which are truly delicious and some which are totally disgusting! Anyway just to say good luck with your next batch of smoothie recipes.

10:38 AM


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