“Let food by thy medicine”
Realistically, nobody wants to accumulate industrial quantities of kitchenware when they’re quite likely to be packing their suitcases and hopping on a plane to a new destination at the end of each year. You may even be the type of person who would consider the purchase of a wooden spoon as something decidedly superfluous. However, if you ever did get the urge to invest in something for the kitchen other than one-plate-one-fork-one knife-one-glass, one truly worthwhile little gadget which really deserves to be invested in is the blender.
Uh huh. And what is a blender exactly?
Well, it’s a largish, jug-shaped contraption with a blade thingy in its base, which smashes up fruit and veg, reducing it to a semi-liquid, pureed kind of consistency. The resulting mush is called a ‘smoothie’ these days.
Right. I can just about wrap my brain round that highly technical explanation, but why exactly do I need one, and why would I want to consume ‘mush’?
Well, to get straight to the point – smoothies are awfully useful in keeping fit and healthy.
Vitamins, minerals and fiber, associated with good health and a longer life expectancy, are to be found in fruit and vegetables, especially if consumed raw. And since most of us don’t consume the seven-a-day portions we’re supposed to, and since a blender allows you to cram huge amounts of fruit and vegetables into your body without it feeling like you’re stuffing yourself with foods you might not feel like or even like that much, using your blender to make home-made smoothies is a great way to make sure you’re getting the optimum amount of nutritional goodies.
Whoa! Back up a moment – seven-a-day? I thought it was five-a-day?
It was and it wasn’t. Five portions of fruit and vegetables were actually always indicated as the minimum daily in-take, but further research, carried out by University College London researchers using the Health Survey for England, has shown that it’s better if you down seven or more portions a day, if you want to reduce your death risk by at least 33%.
You’re beginning to sound like my mother. What if I don’t like fruit and vegetables enough to chomp my way through seven portions a day?
Enter the blender. I’ve been known to swallow an entire pineapple, a couple of kiwi, and several handfuls of berries in one sitting. When it’s all mushed up it sort of slips down the gullet almost without you noticing. Quite different from masticating your way through a pile of the unblended stuff.
Ah, wait a minute. Pineapple, kiwi, and berries? What happened to the vegetables? Surely they’re as important as fruit?
Absolutely, and, in fact, you can blend them too!
A cabbage and spinach cocktail? Sounds delicious…
This is where imagination and creativity step in. EFL teachers are supposed to have these traits in industrial quantities. You can blend all sorts of healthy food-stuffs, and throw together the most amazing combinations of ingredients that taste really very pleasant even though some of the ingredients are of the less delicious type. In other words, just make sure you chuck in enough good-tasting elements to balance out the nasty ones.
Okay, fair enough, but what has this got to do with TEFLing?
Lots. When you go off on a fortnight’s holiday to a foreign land, your organism can get stressed out by the climatic and dietary changes. When you spend years of your life living in all sorts of climates and environments, your organism has to readjust time after time. The food might not be what you’re used to, or even familiar enough with to cook with. You might just end up eating out quite a lot with consequent higher risks of getting an upset tummy. What you’re provided in terms of medical coverage will not always be of the standard you’re probably used to. In other words, your health could take, if not an actual battering, a jolly good shake-up. Eating healthily is an awfully easy way of contributing to keeping yourself in good health.
Sounds a bit health-freaky to me. I don’t even like cooking junk-food, much less peeling and chopping piles of fruit and veg.
Well, that’s the point – it takes very, very little time – only a few minutes. Plus, there’s no actual cooking. You just fill up the jug with roughly chopped fruit and vegetables, and press the ‘on’ button. Couldn’t be easier. And actually, there’s no need to reduce your ingredients into tiny, regular pieces – experiment with your blender and you’ll see how it can actually cope fine with quite large chunks. Also, there’s no need to peel everything – for example, I chuck apples and plums in with their peel. Just wash them properly first. Oh, but for God’s sake peel kiwis and lychees.
So, you just chuck assorted chunks into the blender and Bob’s your uncle?
More or less. You’ll need a bit of liquid, otherwise your mush will be solid enough to stand a spoon up in. You can use ice-cubes, yoghurt, or – something I like – a handful of frozen berries. You can add water if you like. It depends how runny you like it.
Okay, so give us a recipe then.
Well, okay. But first let me give you a list of suggestions for ingredients to use. Half the fun is actually experimenting with combinations, and although not every single smoothie you’ll ever make will be like nectar of the gods, some will be absolutely delicious. Honest injun.
Fruit – apples, bananas, plums, peaches, melon, watermelon, papaya, mango, strawberries, raspberries, avocado pears, pineapple, etc.
Fruit juices – citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits squeezed (do not throw into the blender whole or you’ll end up eating the bitter peel) and the juice of pomegranates
Vegetables – lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, watercress, carrots, beetroot, kale, baby spinach, fennel, bean-sprouts, zucchini, celery, etc.
Dairy – yoghurt, milk, laban (Eastern yoghurty drink)
Herbs and spices – fresh mint, parsley, basil, ginger, cumin, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.
Oh! And you can even chuck in honey, nuts, dried fruits, muesli and, well, just about anything. Not chips though – healthy anythings.
Okay…so just how much do these things cost?
Actually, not very much at all. Although prices will vary from country to country, the following link will give you an idea. As you can see they start from about £23, though there’s even one listed on there which only costs a tenner (£10).
And the recipe…?
The Internet is full not only of smoothie recipes, but of entire web-sites dedicated to them. Should your TEFL imagination let you down, you can always have a look at them. But here’s one to get you started.
half a banana
one small cucumber
a handful of strawberries
3 slices of melon
a few fresh mint leaves
So, there you go – happy mushing!