Monday, January 26, 2015

Nut milk ice (plus 5 more smoothie tips and tricks)

Learn how to turn nut milk into ice and get other time- and money-saving tips and tricks for making the best smoothies ever.

how to make nut milk ice for smoothies

Welcome to Smoothie Week!

During this year's Detox January, I've been making a lot of smoothies -- and not all of them are green! I know I'm late to the smoothie party (I seem to be late to every party lately), but I'm loving having them for breakfast.

One of the reasons I never entirely jumped on the smoothie-a-day bandwagon was because I don't like to clean the blender. SERIOUSLY! I mean, how lazy can you get, right? Last year I discovered (again, apparently this was only news to ME) the mason jar blender trick, which helped a lot; using mason jars means I only have to wash the blender blade -- the jars can go right in the dishwasher.


Another reason I wasn't fully embracing smoothies? Smoothie prep. I never seemed to have the right ingredients on hand when I really wanted a smoothie -- namely because they always seem to call for milk or yogurt or some other dairy product I didn't have in the fridge.

So one of my new favorite tips for making smoothies easier is nutmilk ice. (Again, if this is not news to anyone but me, keep it to yourself and let me have my little moment of glee, mmmmkay?) By freezing my favorite nutmilks into ice, I kill two birds with one stone -- nutmilk ice makes the perfect substitute for ice and/or milk in my favorite smoothies.

how to make nut milk ice for smoothies

A simple ice cube tray works fine, but I prefer silicone molds -- they're very flexible, so the ice is easy to pop out once it's frozen. I got the cube mold (pictured) at Target, but I also use silicon cupcake liners (each one holds 1/4 cup of nutmilk).

And don't forget it's ridiculously easy to make your own nutmilk!

Since I've learned some valuable tricks and time-saving lessons this month by making so many smoothies, I thought I'd share them all with you -- and then share my favorite smoothie recipes later this week.

Hence, Smoothie Week!

To get started, check out my top 5 smoothie tips, tricks and timesavers to help you make the best smoothies ever -- then check back later in the week for some delicious and healthy smoothie recipes (including one you can share with your dog!!).

And if you have any other tips, tell me about them in a comment below: The Ninj wants to know.

how to make nut milk ice for smoothies

5 Smoothie Tips, Tricks and Timesavers

1. Stockpile Nutmilk or Other Flavored Ice
As I mentioned above, simply fill ice cube trays or silicone molds with your favorite nutmilk (or try making your own!) and freeze. Pop the ice out of the molds and store it in a container in the freezer. Just be sure to make a note of how many ounces each of your molds holds so that if a recipe calls for a specific amount of nutmilk, you'll know exactly how much milk ice you can substitute. And if you're not a fan of nutmilk in your smoothies, freeze cubes of coconut water or fresh fruit juice instead.

2. Slice Fresh Fruit for Freezing Uniformly
Fruit like bananas and peaches are best frozen on trays in slices and then stored in an airtight bag or container so that you only use as much as you need. However, if a smoothie recipe calls for "1 banana" instead of, for example, "1/2 cup sliced banana", you might not know how much banana to use! I make sure that I always slice my bananas into the exact same number of slices (12) so that I know just how many slices equal one full banana.

3. Use Good Freezer Bags
I can't say this enough: your frozen fruit or veg is only as good as its container. I've tried them all and the absolute best are FreshSaver's vacuum zipper bags. The vacuum gadget is inexpensive (and comes with a starter set of bags) -- additional bags are readily available at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, even some grocery stores (my local Kroger carries them!). The beauty of these zipper bags, compared with regular ziplock bags, is that you can re-vacuum seal them after you open them to remove some fruit. They can be sealed and re-sealed a whole bunch of times. No more icy build-up or freezer burn on your beautiful frozen fruit!

4. Make Your Own Greens Powder
Adding green / chlorella powder to your smoothies is a great way to amp up the nutrition -- you can cram in a whole bunch of servings of vegetables into just one smoothie! But those powders can be awfully pricey. So I bet you can see where I'm going with this:   Make your own green powder instead, for just a fraction of the cost! Just use kale or spinach and follow my instructions for making your own kale powder. Store in an airtight container and add a scoopful to your next green smoothie.

5. Blend Coarse Ingredients First
Unless you're using a high-powered blender like Vitamix or BlendTec (if you are, lucky you!), be sure to blend any hard or coarse ingredients -- nuts, dried fruits, oats, etc. -- first with a little of the liquid your recipe calls for, and then add the remaining liquid, frozen fruit and/or ice. This will prevent chunks and bits from remaining unblended and making your smoothie, well, less than smooth.
-- print recipe --


  1. This is such a great idea! I've also done a thing where I save the almond pulp from making almond milk and freeze that for smoothie-making. Why not eat the entire nut?

    1. Another great idea, Eileen, especially as it all gets pulverized anyway, right? Thanks!

  2. OK - here's a tip... but I have to admit I haven't tried it.

    Something I read somewhere suggested storing the ingredients for a week's worth of smoothies in separate containers for each smoothie in the freezer until needed, so that everything is frozen in individual servings. Take one container out as needed and add it to the liquid in the blender. I guess I haven't done it because I always get the image of the icky, mooshy things that I've found in my veggie drawer that are partially frozen because they were pushed to the back of the drawer. However, I guess there wouldn't be any difference grinding up mooshy, already frozen greens if they were still frozen than if you toss them fresh into the blender. I really don't have that much freezer space; but if someone were to try it, I'd like to know how it really works.

    What I *do* do, though, is keep my smoothie greens separated from all the other produce that I keep in the fridge. I have a large air-tight container that actually takes up a whole fridge shelf (we have a tiny fridge) - inside I keep pre-washed greens, celery, parsley... sometimes I put the fresh ginger in there so that I don't forget it. I wrap everything up individually in very thin clean dish towels. Everything stays nice and crisp that way. In the morning when my brain is sometimes still fuzzy and I often forget what goes into the smoothie (and I've been doing a smoothie for breakfast every day for about three years - still forget things), everything is right there, ready to grab a handful and toss into the blender.

    I even made a list of ingredients and measurements for smoothies that I keep on the side of the fridge so that, should the extremely rare occasion arise that my husband might actually want to make a smoothie without my assistance, he knows what to use. But truly, I have to use the list myself now and then, too, when I'm still fuzzy-headed in the morning. :-)

  3. If you have just started taking Green supplements just make sure to mix it with good, natural juice of tropical fruits (apple, mango, bananas and pineapple work great for me) in a smoothie. Try to avoid berries and citrus fruit.