Recipe for a Healthy Planet: Lisa Murray – Frozen concoctions for the summer

Lisa Murray

Lisa Murray COURTESY PHOTO

Blueberry refresher is among the frozen fruit and vegetable drinks people can make for the summer months.

Blueberry refresher is among the frozen fruit and vegetable drinks people can make for the summer months. —PHOTO BY LISA MURRAY

Published: 06-07-2024 12:01 PM

The heat is here, so what better time for frosty concoctions? I make smoothies and frozen creations of all sorts during the warm-weather months. They are easy to make and so much healthier for you than most frozen desserts, sodas or other sweetened beverages.

I can’t remember how or where I discovered the magic of frozen cucumbers, but I’m glad I did! Frozen cucumber slices replace the need for using ice in making slushy drinks. Just slice the cucumber into quarter-inch or so rounds, and then toss them into your freezer in a freezer bag. Leave the peel on for maximum nutritional benefits.

It is ideal to lay the bag flat if you have the room, so that the slices don’t all freeze into a clump. A side benefit of using cucumbers this way is that if you grow your own, you are likely to have more cucumbers than you can eat before they go bad, even if you’re giving a lot away! Freezing them allows you to enjoy them for an extended period of time.

Growing my own cucumbers and other vegetables is more satisfying than I ever imagined it would be. We created our vegetable garden during the first COVID summer, and now we can’t imagine giving it up. My husband likes to do things big, so it’s 40-foot by 40-foot, which I wouldn’t recommend to novice gardeners. It’s probably better to start small and grow from there.

For tips on vegetable gardening, as well as sample garden plots, go to harriscenter.org/grow-your-own-food.

The following recipes are all vegan (gentlest environmental footprint) and do not contain sweeteners. I have found that I actually prefer the natural flavor of fruits since essentially eliminating sweeteners from my diet. I used to have an enormous sweet tooth, but if I have something sugary now, it usually tastes too sweet to me.

The cashew milk yogurt used in the first recipe can be found in the grocery store in the same aisle as dairy yogurt. However, you can easily modify these recipes by substituting dairy yogurt and milk, or adding a sweetener, if you wish.

Using organic ingredients is recommended, especially for the strawberries and spinach, which are rated as the top two “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables in terms of pesticide contamination. I keep bags of organic strawberries and blueberries in the freezer and use them in the following recipes when I do not have fresh ones on hand.

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As always, don’t be afraid to experiment and add or subtract ingredients according to your taste preferences.

Frozen fruitie

Serves two or more.

Ingredients

-- 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk.

-- 15 slices of frozen cucumbers.

-- 1/3 cup unsweetened cashew milk yogurt.

-- 1 large banana.

-- 1/4 cup shredded coconut.

-- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed.

-- 8 large strawberries (frozen or fresh).

Directions

Pour milk into blender. Add one ingredient at a time, blending after each addition. Stir mixture with a long spoon several times, as mixture will be thick. Add more milk if you want a more liquid consistency. Spoon into a short glass and serve with a spoon.

Spring green smoothie

Serves two.

Ingredients

-- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk.

-- 1 small knob of peeled fresh ginger, roughly cut.

-- 1 frozen banana. (I put bananas that are about to be overripe into the freezer and use them for smoothies.)

-- 2 cups baby spinach, lightly packed.

-- 1 1/2 cups pineapple chunks.

-- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed.

-- Lime wedges.

-- Frozen cucumber slices.

Directions

Pour milk into blender. Add ginger, banana, spinach, pineapple and flaxseed one at a time until fully blended. Pour into glasses and squeeze a lime wedge into each one. Add frozen cucumber slices to each glass instead of ice.

Blueberry refresher

Serves two

Ingredients

-- 2 cups club soda.

-- 2 cups frozen sliced cucumbers.

-- 1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh).

Directions

Pour club soda into blender. Add cucumbers a little at a time, blending after each addition. Add blueberries and blend. Pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint.

Lisa Murray has a passion for exploring the impact our food choices have on human and planetary health.