As a meal replacement, tropical smoothie provides good nutrition

Layer the smoothie ingredients in a blender, with the liquid on the bottom, to help facilitate smooth blending.

A delicious tropical smoothie can be enjoyed instead of a meal when a busy day of planting and cleaning out the garden prevents proper meal planning.
By : 
Iris Clark Neumann
Food for the Neighborhood

The arrival of spring has been a relief. There's so much to get done all at once — flowers to plant, along with tomatoes, peppers and herbs.

Sometimes, when trying to get more done than I can in a day, meals are a second thought. A quick smoothie filled with healthy fruits, yogurt and other special ingredients give a quick and fulfilling meal on the go.

The rhubarb is ready for harvest, but I've been too busy turning over dirt with my shovel and putting plants in the ground and in pots to take time to create a dessert. I'm hoping to highlight rhubarb in my next column.

A secret ingredient in my tropical smoothie is frozen cantaloupe, which I cut up and bagged last fall when I had an abundance of the fruit. Coconut water and unsweetened coconut add more flavor, while honey is the sweetener.

If one doesn't have frozen cantaloupe on hand, simply buy one, cut it into ice cube-sized pieces (minus the seeds and skin) and freeze. Because I keep bags of frozen pineapple pieces for my grandson, I found they are also great to have on hand and for adding to a smoothie.

Perhaps frozen rhubarb would work in a smoothie. I should try it.

In my opinion, a fruit smoothie always needs a banana and unsweetened Greek yogurt.

Digging long strands of quack grass roots out of garden beds and mulching pathways at the community gardens has given me a chance to channel my energy and feelings of grief for losing my brother.

It is hard to believe that a year ago, I was digging quack grass from raised beds at the gardens, while I processed the sudden loss of my sister-in-law.

There is something really peaceful in being isolated in the open space of the gardens. 

Spring is miraculously blossoming into summer. I don't remember a year when I've been able to enjoy tulips blooming in 80-degree weather. Yet, with the recent cool, rainy days, the blooms seem to have lingered longer.

A six-month winter has left its lingering results, like discovering some perennials I planted late in the season don't seem to have survived. As I decide a potted plant has not survived, I add the contents of the pot to my compost piles or to my gardens.

It seems odd to be planting Brussels sprouts, peppers and tomatoes at the same time, as the season of spring has been so short. I'm enjoying the benefit of being retired and being able to focus on planting.

One of the best benefits of gardening is harvesting chives and perennial onions, to give fresh flavor and color to wraps and omelets. I love being able to grab a scissors, duck out the deck door, and come back with a handful of green spears while I am cooking a meal.

I've enjoyed hearing the voices of neighborhood kids out playing in the warmer temps. I just have to be careful when backing out my driveway into their playground of basketball or bikes in our cul de sac. But I love hearing their camaraderie during their games and impromptu activities.

May also brings the beginning of farmers market season, the opening day for the Eyota Farmers Market is May 22. Stop by West Side Park on Tuesday for bundles of asparagus, green onions or rhubarb, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Our long, long winter has delayed planting of many crops, but there will be baked items and canned items, preserved from last summer's harvest.

Stop at the red welcome tent for free food samples. It may be something including rhubarb.      

Here is my smoothie recipe and feel free to multiply the amounts for the smoothie ingredients to feed a group. It's so good, one might not want to share.

Tropical Smoothie

(one or two servings)

1/2 cup coconut water or orange juice

1 ripe banana

1/4 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon honey

1 or 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut

1 tablespoon flax seed

1/4 cup frozen pineapple pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe pieces

Using a two-cup smoothie maker or a blender, layer the ingredients into the container in the order given in the recipe, starting with the coconut water or orange juice, topping with the frozen fruit. Process until all the ingredients are mixed well together and no lumps are left. Pour into a tall cup for a single serving or two smaller glasses for two. Serve with a straw.