Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pumpkin Smoothie: A Comparison

Throughout the winter we tend to eat a bunch of pumpkin-y things. Most of them aren't really that healthy, but we like to pretend that they're just bursting with nutritiousness on account of their being orange and all. And I do make pumpkin smoothies, which really are pretty darn nutritious. My go-to is a pumpkin smoothie with a bit of banana and a lot of room for experimentation and interpretation. It is good, but it is not perfectly perfect in every way. There is a part of me that suspects that the flavor I'm looking for in my smoothie is really the flavor you find in milkshakes not smoothies. And, yeah, it'd be nice to replicate that in a perfectly virtuous, non-iced-dessert environment, but I'm not quite sure it's ever going to happen. Still I'm not one to shut my eyes to opportunity.

Several months ago, I noticed this smoothie on Pioneer Woman's blog. It used pumpkin pie filling which, while not my nemesis, is far from being my favorite thing. Foods that contain liquid syrup--I don't know--they're just not the kinds of pumpkin foods you can settle down with and make a life together. So I dismissed her recipe and figured I could do even better with a few small tweaks. My first batch was made with pumpkin, plain yogurt, milk, and even a bit of kefir. It ended up needing some serious love--love to the tune of 1/2 C extra sugar.

The next time I went to the store, I bought some pumpkin pie filling. It was just one of those things I had to do. I had to see if I'd been outdone by a slightly grody prepared food product. Answer: Yes, I had been outdone by a slightly grody prepared food product. With the help of Pioneer Woman of course--I have to admit she's pretty good at helping a lot of foods along into something really good. At any rate her version was way better than mine. Okay, okay, I thought, maybe I should just throw in the towel and accept defeat. Her smoothie was, after all, still loaded with vitamin A, not to mention the protein, calcium, and even some good bacterial cultures from the yogurt.

However, when I did a little number crunching I noticed that her pumpkin pie filling version contained less Vitamin A than mine--about half as much. Yes, both were loaded with it, but mine was double loaded (100% of the daily recommendation/serving as opposed to 50% of the daily recommendation/serving). Also, hers had  more sugar. This gave me the motivation to give my smoothie a few more tries.

The result: If I added a bunch of sugar I got mine pretty darn close to her version and still with double the Vitamin A. However, in the end I just accepted less sweetness and used a bit less sugar and felt less guilty and I guess that's just how I roll.

Pumpkin Smoothie
adapted from Pioneer Woman
Serves 4
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cost: $1.65
(pumpkin: 1.00, milk: .40, yogurt: .25)

1 small (15 oz) can pureed pumpkin
1/2 C vanilla yogurt (you can use plain, but to compete with Pioneer Woman's smoothie, you'll have to add another Tbsp or 2 of sugar)
3 C milk (it's best with whole or raw)
4-6 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Freeze pumpkin in a plastic container (or in ice cube trays).

Put frozen pumpkin, yogurt, sugar, and milk in blender. Blend until smooth. Blend in pumpkin pie spice and garnish with another sprinkle of it or a sprinkle of nutmeg.

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