"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Why can’t I even make a mango banana smoothie?

by Julie on January 29, 2012

in Good Ideas Gone Bad, Breakfast, Vegetarian

This is why I’m the Bad Home Cook and you’re not.

I tried to make a simple fruit and spinach smoothie this afternoon and nearly failed. Why? Why can’t I do the simplest things?

I have a big ol’ Osterizer blender. Why did it take me FOUR tries to get the thing to actually blend?

No, I didn’t Google “how to make a smoothie,” because I was assured by my yoga friend that all you needed to do was throw a cup of mango cubes, one banana and some spinach into a blender and blend away. Looking up precise instructions would take the fun out of it and besides, it’s a smoothie, right? It’s not like cooking up a rack of lamb or something.

And yet. When I put everything into the blender, the blender wouldn’t blend it. ARRGGGGG!!!! So TYPICAL! WTF??

OK. Here’s what happened:

I’m at yoga, and my friend Manjuree is telling me how she’s always trying to eat healthier and how she’s gotten even her two little boys hooked on fruit smoothies. So easy to make, she said. And so easy to get them to eat more fruit and veg.

Smoothies.  I know, it’s not even a trend anymore. Everyone does it. Everyone but me. There’s even a whole green monster smoothie thing going. A few years ago a friend came over and made me an avocado smoothie and, well, meh. It was ok, I suppose, but honestly, way too green and healthy and…well, I prefer my avocados spread on toast or chopped up in a nice guacamole.

But I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, and In the Defense of Food, and also The China Study, and I’ve been thinking I need to sit down and look at what I’m really eating. Hence the idea to try a mango and banana smoothie today. It would be a good way to get more fruits and veggies into my diet. And the boy would love it, probably.

So that afternoon I go to Trader Joe’s and I buy frozen mango chunks. Bananas. A bag of spinach.

And I follow these simple instructions:

Chunks of frozen mango...


Then chop up ONE banana:

mango and banana smoothie

the chop of one banana

I added a handful of spinach leaves too. As long as I was being healthy…

The triptych...

“Don’t I need some kind of liquid?” I asked Manjuree. “Like hemp milk or coconut water or something?”

“Nothing but the fruit,” she said.

OK, I said. BUT…

It won't blend...Why not?

When I tried to blend it, the blade just went around and around at the bottom, blending nothing.  I couldn’t figure it out. It’s a BLENDER, right? What was I doing wrong?

So I took the jar off the motorized based and tried to mix up the fruit etc. with a wooden spoon. Then I tried again. Nada. I tried a third time, completely perplexed. I could see some movement at least. The blade would catch a chunk of fruit and blend it, which I hoped would jumpstart the rest of it. I let it blend for a good minute on high. But it didn’t blend any further.

So I added a glurp of rice milk, just to see what would happen. I turned the blender on high and waited.

And waited.

And FINALLY, the thing caught, and all was blended per the original plan.

Jebus. This smoothie had better have some properties addressing high blood pressure.

I used a little too much spinach, because everything turned an unappetizing shade of green, circa my mom’s 1972 kitchen remodel. The boy will never eat that, I thought. And after all that trouble.

Tastes way better than it looks

But I tried it and although it was pretty thick, it was also pretty dang tasty. I brought it up to the boy and asked him to try it. He did, and deemed it worthy. “I like it,” he said, taking another slurp. “But some constructive criticism?”

Hit me, I said.

“It’s a little too thick and hard to drink,” he said. “And why is it green?”

Well never mind, I told him. As long as you like it and I like it. I have no plans on showing the Drama Teen because I can imagine the look she’ll give me. And I don’t need that sort of abuse right now.

So. My first ever fruit smoothie. Eventually, it worked out. I’ll be trying this again, and ideally, I’ll get it down to a science, but you never know with me.

Feel free to chortle at my expense in the meantime. At least I got a blogpost out of it.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Hawkins January 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Hi Julie,
I feel your pain. Here’s one suggestion that might make your smoothie life easier. Put the frozen stuff in the blender the night before and let it partially thaw. I do a mix of frozen berries and mango or pineapple- filling the blender almost 1/2 full. Also, the night before, I soak dried figs and 2 dried prunes in 1 cup boiling water overnight. I cover it and leave it on the counter. I add this- figs, prunes and the water they soaked in- to the berrie/fruit mix already in the blender. It makes a very appealing purple- ish color, and is best drank cold or not quite room temperature.


Bruce January 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Don’t be tempted by the hype: unless you have one of those really-expensive, multi-bladed blenders, you’ll need to use liberal amounts of oil, or milk, water, or some other liquid to help your solids undergo their transformation. It’s tough and annoying, but that’s just the way it is.

Side note: in the course of discovering that liquids applied early and liberally are necessary, I had a “scrape the smoothie off the ceiling experience” that left me chastened and soaked.


Marisa Mendoza January 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I use a ninja blender for smoothies. Works great and less mess, easy clean up. I use it for Natalia’s ice cream shakes, salsa and tomatillo sauce.


mic February 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Your friend appears to have a vitamix. Yes, you need liquid, as you figured out.


Rhia Foster March 26, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Oh, man. You are hilarious! I am so glad I stumbled on to your blog! I can’t stop reading and laughing. out loud. in my house. alone. looking like an ass. Perfection.

Thank you!



Julie April 5, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Thanks Rhia!


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