5 A Day Smoothie

We all know we should be getting (at least) 5 portions of fruit and veg every day but sometimes that can be easier said than done. Even us vegans have to be vigilant about our intake because it can be all too easy to rely on convenience food particularly during the week. Therefore a few shortcuts here and there are essential in ensuring we remain fit and healthy and full of energy. Smoothies are a superb way of making sure you get that fruit and veg injection with minimal fuss. As with anything though I'm very picky when it comes to my smoothies. I have an aversion to gloop and smoothies can so easily be gloop therefore it is of paramount importance that my smoothies are exactly that - smooth!

I find that smoothies can so often resemble a shake in texture and, if adding yoghurt or milk, taste. Thick, heavy and rendering even the widest of straws completely redundant. If I wanted a shake, I'd order a shake - believe me, I like nothing more than a rich vegan soy shake to accompany my indulgent vegan hotdog (not that I've had this combo since leaving my beloved Chicago - sniff, sniff). In my opinion shakes and smoothies have become somewhat confused, so this is my effort to restore the smoothie back to its original state.

The first time I'd ever heard of a smoothie was in an episode of Neighbours (an  Australian soap that was ridiculously popular in the UK when I was a youngster) when Craig Maclachan's character (Henry Ramsey) was making himself one and I was immediately intrigued - I wanted a smoothie! But try finding somewhere that sold smoothies in Northern Ireland in the early nineties. To compound this we didn't own a blender either so it was a looooog time before I actually managed to sample one. London exposes you to many wonderful cuisines and all my foodie desires were fulfilled when I moved there as a young lass of 18 and it was there I had my first smoothie.

This particular smoothie doesn't use bananas although feel free to add one - it will change the texture though so you may want to thin it out with a little more water, ice cubes or lime juice. Don't be tempted to add more orange juice though, as it will really interfere with the taste. Be sure to blend, blend, blend until it is super smooth but not a juice. It's a fine balance but the results are worth it. This smoothie is the perfect pick me up, however, if you do want to make it a breakfast smoothie then toss in a tablespoon of flaxseeds or a few seeds for extra oomphf - oh yeah, that is a word. I think.

5 a day smoothie

1/4 cucumber

6 or 7 strawberries

1 apple

1 kiwi

1 pear

juice 1 lime

juice 1/2 orange

splash water or two ice cubes

1 tsp agave nectar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

small pinch ground cinnamon

15 drops echinacea (optional and only if you feel you need a boost to your immune system - i did)

Peel and de-seed the cucumber and cut into small pieces. Wash, hull and chop the strawberries. Peel and chop the kiwi, apple and pear into small pieces.

Place all the fruit into a blender and add the lime and orange juice, as well as the water - start with 1 tbsp and go from there, it will depend on how thin/thick you want the smoothie.

Blend on a high speed until everything is liquidized. Then add the agave nectar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and echinacea (if you're using it). Blend again and serve immediately.

You could also add a few ice cubes in place of the water and this means your smoothie will be nice and cool.

Get blending!

breakfast, veganAine Carlin