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Chill out with summer slushies

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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 12:18 am | Updated: 10:35 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

Slushies have taken on a surprisingly critical role in my family’s summer. And it’s my 7-year-old’s fault.

The summer camp he attended sold them at the camp store. I resisted at first, telling him he didn’t need the sugar and neon chemicals used to concoct the icy blends. But like all spineless parents, enough nagging and I eventually relented, giving him permission to cool off with one small slushie once a day.

Then a 100 deegree day hit. And while my son was off slurping his slushie at camp, I sat sweating in my home office. Suddenly, things seemed most unfair.

So I decided two could play at the slushie game. Not only could I whip up my own chilly drinks, I could do a better job, creating more interesting flavors and using far better ingredients. Sugar was certainly going to have to be part of the equation, but no neon chemicals were needed.

The results were delicious and refreshing. And while I love the three flavor blends I came up with, it’s easy to create your own. Just keep a few guidelines in mind.

• You will need a blender. With most models, you’ll need to stop it once or twice while blending to mix up the ice so that it doesn’t jam. The weaker your blender, the more times you’ll need to stop and mix.

• Aim for a ratio of 3 cups of ice to 2 to 3 cups of liquid/other ingredients. This ensures you will get an icy, but smooth consistency. It also helps keep the mixture from jamming in the blender.

• Don’t be afraid to really let the blender go for a couple minutes. You want the mixture to be very smooth. There should be no discernible hunks of ice.

• Sugar is important for consistency. While you could use stevia or another alternative sweetener to cut calories, the result will be watery. I liked using agave or honey, which have a pleasantly mild sweetness that won’t compete with the other flavors. Simple syrup (2-to-1 mixture of granulated sugar and water) also works.

• Don’t forget the pinch of salt. It heightens the other flavors.

• Skip the seeds. Slushies are all about being chilly and smooth. That’s why I used seedless strawberry jam rather than fresh or frozen berries in the recipe below. You also could use juice concentrates, such as cherry or pomegranate.

COCONUT-LEMONADE SLUSHIES

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Servings: 2

3 cups lightly crushed ice

1 cup water

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup sweetened cream of coconut

1/4 cup agave syrup or honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. You may need to stop the blender once or twice and stir the ingredients in order to keep them moving in the blender. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 410 calories; 110 calories from fat (27 percent of total calories); 12 g fat (11 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 80 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 0 g fiber; 105 mg sodium.

STRAWBERRY-GINGER-LIMEADE SLUSHIES

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Servings: 2

3 cups lightly crushed ice

1 cup water

1 cup seedless strawberry jam

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. You may need to stop the blender once or twice and stir the ingredients in order to keep them moving in the blender. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 410 calories; 0 calories from fat (0 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 107 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein; 0 g fiber; 80 mg sodium.

ORANGE-BANANA-

CINNAMON SLUSHIE

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Servings: 2

3 cups lightly crushed ice

1 cup no-pulp orange juice

2 bananas

1/2 cup agave syrup or honey

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. You may need to stop the blender once or twice and stir the ingredients in order to keep them moving in the blender. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 420 calories; 5 calories from fat (1 percent of total calories); 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 109 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 4 g fiber; 85 mg sodium.

Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook “High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking.” Follow him to great eats on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JM—Hirsch or email him at jhirsch(at)ap.org.

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