Naturally Sweet Blender Treats

Ice Cream Blog

Naturally Sweet Blender Treats
| published August 1, 2014 |

By R. Alan Clanton
Thursday Review editor

The blender is one of those under-utilized tools of the kitchen. The ubiquitous microwave, along with that seemingly endless procession of fast food restaurants, means that for many of us, our lives are a merger of convenience and unhealthy eating. When we do pull out the blender and prepare something, there is often sugar involved—typically refined sugar—along with lots of the sort of empty calories that have lured us (Americans, in particular) into bad eating habits, obesity, and a laundry list of health problems ranging from higher risk for heart attack and stroke, to diabetes.

Just to explain, empty calories are those things we shovel into our mouths which produce little satisfaction. TR writer Maggie Nichols discussed this briefly in her recent article about the virtues of the cantaloupe.

“When we consume junk food,” Nichols writes, “our bodies are tricked briefly into feeling fleeting satisfaction, but we have to go back for more and more of these empty calories in order to remain satisfied. This is why a bag of potato chips never fills us up, and why we end up eating the entire package of Oreo Cookies or the entire bag of Cheetos. Thus, we gain weight continuously without ever feeling full, and it becomes a never-ending cycle.”

But do we have to deprive ourselves of sweetness and richness to eat healthy? Absolutely not.

A new book by author and writer Deborah Tukua, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats, offers up more than 80 pages of blender recipes which prove that anyone can enjoy eating healthy—even desserts and exceptionally sweet treats.

The narrative that Americans do not eat enough fresh fruit and fresh vegetables is old news for most of us—it’s just that we tend to ignore it. What makes Tukua’s book enlightening is that she shows us just how easily fruits and veggies can be prepared for maximum flavor and enjoyment.

Example: the typical smoothie, often pricey in the retail and restaurant environment, is actually simple and inexpensive to prepare in your blender at home, and the smoothie is also a handy shortcut to getting a multitude of essential vitamins and minerals. Tukua’s smoothie recipes include some items which may seem familiar—such as a “Fruit Bowl Smoothie” and a “Strawberry Banana Breakfast Shake”—and some which may seem a bit, well, exotic, such as her “Sweet Potato Pie in a Glass” (this one startled me at first, that is until I read the recipe’s ingredients more closely: in addition to the sweet potatoes, there are oranges, coconut flakes, grapefruit, pecans, almond milk and Greek yogurt…a list which immediately altered my perception of the usefulness of a sweet potato). Tukua offers about a dozen smoothie concoctions, and among those recipes there is something there for everyone to like.

The book also contains dozens of recipes for chilled drinks, and—like the smoothies she describes--the range covers those who like milk products and those who do not (most of her recipes call for almond milk or coconut milk as an alternative to store-bought dairy products, such as the typical pasteurized milk which may have been produced using animals subjected to antibiotics and hormones treatments). The section of the book dedicated to the chilled drinks was particularly enticing as summer reading. Granted, some parts of the Midwest and the South have had a cooler than average week or two—and you can blame that one on Canada again—but rest assured, the heat will resume. And Tukua’s recipes for “Strawberry Limeade” and “Peach Lemonade” will come in handy in mid-August when most of the country is back in the nineties each day by noon. And if you like chocolate (apparently everyone does, except me), then you will fall madly in love with Page 43, “Chocolate Lover’s Lemonade,” another seemingly jarring combination which makes perfect sense when you read the recipe.

Another section of the book is devoted to desserts, yogurts and ice cream treats. This includes a detailed set of instructions and explanations about making ice cream without the usual fuss and mess and endless churning (which would have been good exercise anyway). Again, she generally substitutes traditional dairy milk with almond milk or coconut milk, but since she packs so much sweetness into these desserts, from so many natural sources (honey, for one, which is a healthier way to get sugar than using refined sugars), that even dairy traditionalists will find every recipe here appealing. There are several recipes in this section which will appeal to chocolate lovers, and if you also love strawberries then her “Strawberry Chocolate Ice Cream” will rock your world. My favorite from the dessert section was the Pineapple Rainbow Sorbet (it has a little bit of everything).

And for those of you who have only barely thawed out from Polar Vortex and all those subfreezing days and nights, this book also includes an entire section devoted to hot and warm beverages. When I read the “Pumpkin Spice Latte” recipe, for a moment I almost felt nostalgic for those recent January and February days when it was 23 degrees outside…at noon…in Lower Alabama.

Tukua is careful not to toss anyone into the deep end of the blender pool. The book begins with a dozen pages of basic instruction, including tips for freezing fresh fruit, keeping your blender clean, and some detailed explanations of blender tips. She also offers some useful passages on the merits of raw honey, cinnamon, and extra virgin coconut oil—ingredients and sweeteners infinitely better for you than the traditional things many of us use. Example: honey, in addition to be a natural and healthy source of sugar, is also an antioxidant (and we’ve published plenty of articles on the topic of the antioxidant). Honey can be used as a substitute for refined and granulated sugar.

Another helpful tip offered in this book: how to make flavored ice cubes. Tukua’s book includes an alphabetical index of recipes. Tukua’s book can be found at Amazon, or by going to

Related Thursday Review articles:

The Cantaloupe: Low Calorie, High Sweetness; Maggie Nichols; Thursday Review; June 29, 2014.

The Skinny on the Kiwi; Maggie Nichols; Thursday Review; April 21, 2014.

What is a Plantain?: Plantains Vs. Bananas; Michael Sigler; Thursday Review; June 27, 2014.