I had Rocco strapped into his high chair fingering a fat wedge of avocado the first time I thought to pick up the other, unsliced half, scoop out its pit, and dump the bright, green flesh into the Vitamix to blend up for a drink. Inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe I’d seen that combined half an avocado with a cup of water, a teaspoon each of agave and lime juice and then a little vanilla, I mixed those ingredients (subbing honey) along with some ice. I tasted it. More honey. I poured a glass. This pale green concoction came out sweet, thin, refreshing—the sort of thing you’d want to have sitting next to you while you’re sitting next to the pool or at the beach. The squeeze (or, in my case, squeezes) of honey turned the typically blank taste canvas of the avocado into something that met and overpowered the very craving that, moments before deciding to make a smoothie, had seen me setting a pint of ice cream on the counter so it could get soft enough to scoop. Soon I was putting that pint back into the freezer (because who needs ice cream when you’re drinking an avocado smoothie like this?).
In our little Nashville household, we drink smoothies almost every day, all kinds. Maybe you do, too. This isn’t something I learned from my childhood—quite the opposite, in fact. Growing up in 1980s and ‘90s Midwestern America, the only smoothies I knew were at the mall, available for a fistful of cash and as sweet as milkshakes; I liked the strawberry banana best. But times have changed. I manage a job from home that, 20 or 30 years ago, would have required my going into an office; my husband and I met through blogs, of all things; we eat avocado; we use einkorn flour; smoothies are our breakfast of choice. I like to think I’m an individual, a free agent, making all my choices independently, on my own, but one look at smoothies, and I see how much a product of my culture I’ve become. Something once reserved for takeout has become something as normal as cereal or oatmeal, something with 73 million results in a Google search (compare that with the 23.9 million results for “milkshake,” just for a point of reference) and something, not just in the Mallon kitchen but, indeed, across most people groups, beloved. So, yes, one hundred years ago, smoothies as we now know them didn’t exist, but then, hey, neither did a lot of things that define modern society: television, digital cameras, the Internet, social media, blogs.
The now-ubiquitous smoothie’s wheels were set in motion back in 1922, when the blender first appeared on the food scene, all because a Wisconsin engineer realized affixing a motor to a cup with blades could mean magic when it came to milk and fruit; by the ‘50s, there’d been a million Waring blenders sold; and by the ‘70s, there was a growing chain of restaurants—Smoothie King—revolving around the idea. Yet still something more happened between 1990s Chicagoland where I lived in a house with a blender I didn’t use and 2016 America where everyone everywhere blends up fruits and vegetables to drink. The smoothie train hit some kind of tipping point and took off exponentially, kind of the way blogs, once mentioned by journalists with a shrug of the shoulder and “maybe they’ll be something” have become mainstream, big enough to affect even me. And smoothies do have a lot going for them: they make an easy meal, they pack a lot of nutrients into a single glass, they offer endless flavor combinations from bananas and yogurt to avocado and lime—mostly, though, what makes smoothies so addictive and nonignorable could be this:
Light, Refreshing, Icy Avocado Smoothie
This recipe springs off Bon Appetit‘s by swapping in honey instead of agave (and more of it, wink, wink), along with slightly altered proportions and the addition of hydrolyzed collagen. If this were more of a nutrition blog, I would spend an entire post talking about the benefits of hydrolyzed collagen, which, in laymen’s terms, is basically gelatin that you can blend in a smoothie without worrying about clumps or chunks. We’ve talked about the benefits of gelatin here before, so we’ll spare you the long explanation and just say: it’s big. In my postpartum life, I’m trying to get as many foods that support bone and joint and overall health in my diet as possible, and this is one. Special thanks to Perfect Supplements for letting us try its grass-fed version, which is now our preferred option.
1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
2 cups water
1.5 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 1/2 lime)
3 (or more, to taste) tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon hydrolyzed collagen*
1 cup ice
In a Vitamix or other high-powered blender, combine flesh of avocado with water, lime juice, honey, vanilla and hydrolyzed collagen, and blend until smooth. Add ice, blend again, until consistency you like, and then taste for sweetness. Add more honey as desired.
Alternate, orange, version: Skip the lime juice and add half an organic orange and a tiny bit of its peel instead. Keep everything else the same. This option is thicker and heavier but still sweet and refreshing.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.