Saturday, August 29, 2015

In search of a Faux Dr Pepper Smoothie

This isn't a smoothie that replicates the taste of a Dr Pepper, but it is a smoothie that I could happily substitute on a 1-to-1 basis for Dr Pepper in my life. Which is a boon, because of course soda = bad and fruit = good.

For experimentation purposes, below this smoothie recipe are speculative ingredient lists for the Jamba Juice smoothie that originally gave me the idea and for the secret flavors in Dr Pepper. :)

To make a one-blenderful batch (two 15-oz portions):

  • 1 cup pomegranate-cherry juice, chilled
  • 2 cups nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen fruit -- cherry/blueberry/currant mix
  • 1 cup frozen fruit -- blackberry/blueberry/raspberry mix

Because HEB sells the latter mix in a wonderful 36-oz bag, here is the shopping list for four batches:

Two 16-oz bottles pom-cherry juice ($4 each, totals about 4 cups)
Two 32-oz containers nonfat vanilla yogurt ($2 each, totals about 8 cups)
Two 14-oz bags frozen cherry/berry/currant mix ($3.50 each. The cherries are pre-pitted! And in this mix, currant means "blackcurrant" berries rather than zante grapes. Totals about 3.5 cups)
One 36-oz bag frozen blue/black/raspberries ($9, totals about 4.5 cups)

That's a total of $28 to make eight smoothies, which comes in about 25% less than buying eight Jamba smoothies (though note these are not the same ingredients, notably lacking such things as crazy expensive acai juice).

It's probably worth digging around to find some yogurt and some juice that isn't 300 calories per serving, because those two items put the sugar and calorie load up near that of an actual Dr Pepper. Still,

WTH does one do with four batches? Well, one can freeze the juice and the yogurt separately in ice cube trays, to make smoothie packs. The yogurt should be good a month or two and the juice possibly four to six months. Or one can do all one's blending at once, which saves on cleanup and makes subsequent mornings go faster, and freeze the smoothie itself in cubes. (My trays make 2-Tbsp cubes, so 15 cubes would make a 15-oz smoothie.) Advice I found online indicates if you put the cubes in a water bottle or something, roughly an hour later it will have thawed into smoothie consistency (give the bottle a couple good shakes). It takes more than two hours for the smoothie mix to freeze in my fridge, so I'm considering buying more trays.

Here are the official ingredients of the Jamba Juice Acai Super Antioxidant smoothie...

  • "Acai juice blend, strawberries, raspberry sherbet (contains milk), soymilk (contains soy), ice, blueberries, antioxidant boost (contains soy)"

One bootleg version of this Jamba drink:

  • ½ cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup frozen strawberries, ½ cup acai juice, ½ cup lime sherbet, ½ cup raspberry sherbet, ½ cup soy milk, 1 cup ice

Acai juice, it appears, is crazy expensive, so I am very glad that it is unlikely to be a Dr Pepper flavoring.

Here is a popular rendition of the secret 23 flavors in Dr Pepper (bear in mind it was invented in 1885):

  • Cherry, vanilla, almond, plum, blackberry, raspberry, apricot, coriander, clove, amaretto, anise, caramel, molasses, birch beer, allspice, ginger, sarsparilla, sassafras, juniper, spikenard, wintergreen, burdock, dandelion.
Bear with me as I write out the instructions for my own blender here, as this is the blog post I actually call up and refer to when blending, and I am a pre-flight checklist kinda person. (Note: The directions also say to load the blender with liquids/soft foods on the bottom and progress to dry and/or frozen bits or ice at the top, so if one is blending a preassembled pack with frozen cubes instead of liquids, remember to adjust.)

Useful to have handy: Half-cup measure and spatula to load ingredients into blender; glass to hold the blender tamper once it comes out with smoothie all over it; plate or something to set the implements on, because all of these berries make a very effective burgundy dye. :) Also, doesn't hurt to have the ice cube trays out and ready. And baggies to put the frozen cubes into afterward, so they don't pick up other smells in the freezer.

Load ingredients (liquid at bottom, frozen on top). Snap lid on (securing its port cover with a half-turn); set to Variable and speed 1; switch on and quickly range up to speed 10, then flip to High; take out the port cover, insert the tamper and poke the ingredients down toward the blades; recover the port and blend 30-60 sec until the mix starts surging up in four mounds. Don't blend too long or it'll get melty/runny. Flip back to Variable, scroll down from 10 to 1, then Off. (Afterward, a couple drops of dish soap and a spin up to High basically equals a dishwasher cycle, if needed.)

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