Don't knock it 'til you try it.
After a long day, there’s nothing that excites me more than swan-diving onto my bed and catching up via Instagram story with all my favorite influencers to see what they did that day—it’s creepy, I know. Anyway, a trend that I’ve noticed among some of the wellness/food bloggers that I follow, like Lee From America and Alison Wu, struck me—I mean, struck me hard—was putting steamed-then-frozen vegetables in smoothies. I’m sorry, what?! There’s nothing more disheartening than looking at a gorgeous picture of an intricately-decorated smoothie bowl, only to find that there is zucchini and cauliflower in there. Gross, right?
The logic behind adding such unlikely components to shakes and smoothies is simple—the texture of these vegetables, after they’ve been steamed and frozen, cleverly imitates the smooth, thick consistency that frozen bananas add to a smoothie, without having to add one. Because these veggies have such a bland flavor, once they’re added to the concoction with other fruits, seeds, butters, or whatever it is that you’re blending these days, the idea is that you won’t be able to them. It’s not that bananas are inherently bad or unhealthy, but if you’re trying to cut back on sugar and carbs in a smoothie (trust me, it’s easy to get a little carried away with smoothies), this is an easy workaround that won’t sacrifice that signature, thick texture.
Watching these Instagram stories of eerily-brownish colored smoothies sliding out of a blender only slightly horrified me. And coming from a human who truly loves vegetables and is not opposed to adding a heavy handful of spinach to my smoothie, I can only imagine what other people might think. That said, there was no way around the fact that I had to try this. So, just as my cyber-friends instructed me, I steamed and froze some pre-chopped zucchini and cauliflower florets and hoped for the best. I made two separate smoothies, one with each vegetable, to discern if one was better than the other.
The verdict? Wow, that…was…crazy. Everything they said about texture was totally spot on—thick, heavy, indulgent, and very similar to that of a frozen banana. As far as taste, I’m not going to pretend like it was completely unbeknownst to me that there was a literal crucifer in my smoothie. Maybe I added the florets with a bit of a heavy hand, but the cauliflower smoothie that I made with other fruits and a scoop of vanilla protein powder definitely had a funky little twang at the very end. Not my favorite, TBH. On the other hand, I much preferred the zucchini. It provided that same desired texture, and the vegetal flavor was essentially unnoticeable. The biggest con for both additions, I will say, is the color that it turns the entire mixture. Seriously, so unappetizing. If you’re planning on sipping on this in the company of others, please do yourself and us all a favor, and drink it out of an opaque glass. This, I insist, is crucial.