Sometimes after dinner on summer evenings, when the days stretched into 9 pm, mom and dad would herd us kids into the burgundy-colored station wagon and we’d drive the 15 miles or so over to Mentor and what passed in those days for a mall. Malls were special places back then. Rarities. Imagine: people actually enjoyed spending time in them. We’d walk past the shops, but rarely went into them. We weren’t there to shop. It was all about dessert. We were there for either Baskin-Robbins or Orange Julius, both of which were tucked away in one of those “side streets” that malls have; the dead ends and backwaters. Where the neglected step-children of the “anchor” stores were.
Do you remember Orange Julius? The chemists there concocted bright orange drinks that had the after taste of St. Joseph’s Aspirin for Children – a taste, I confess – that I loved. Maybe it was supposed to be vanilla, maybe malt. I have no idea what was in the powder they added to the orange-flavored beverage, but whatever it was, it sure tasted good. I’d bet that if I sipped an Orange Julius today, I would find it overly sweet and about as close to tasting like an orange as a green apple Jolly Rancher candy tastes like a fresh Granny Smith.
My version of the Orange Julius is the real deal: real orange, real vanilla and a healthy pile of spinach to help us get our daily dose of green. No funky powder. By the way, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of smoothie recipes coming down the pike. I’m working my new Vitamix like crazy.
- A big handful of green or red grapes
- 2 oranges, peeled and quartered
- 1 apple, quartered and cored (I used a Gala; a frozen banana would be good, too)
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. orange extract
- zest of an orange
- 3 big handfuls of baby spinach
- Place the ingredients in a good blender or Vitamix in the order shown. If using a Vitamix, start on Variable 1 and turn to 10 (of if you are a Spinal Tap fan, crank it to 11 to get that extra little oomph) and then flip the switch up to High. Let it process for 30-45 seconds. Serve pronto.