After a long Christmas break, our teenagers are back in the kitchen for Week 9 - well, #2 teenage son is back ... #1 teenage son has TTHHIISSS much homework, so we'll go easy on him.
And in the spirit of getting over the festive excess (although that clearly doesn't apply when you're a teenager who spends as much time under water as on dry land) our budding chef elected to tackle Healthy Chocolate and Peanut Butter Shakes - enough for 4 of us. That was the deal.
And what did this teenager learn?
- Sometimes it's all about the equipment - Making this shake is about following the recipe, but it's also about learning how to use the equipment - in this case a Vitamix blender. It's not hard but there's stuff you need to know.
- Make the most of the freezer - If the 'past it' bananas from the fruit bowl get peeled and frozen, then you'll always be in good shape to make this shake. Let's face it, this job will always fall squarely on my pile, but you can't blame me for trying.
- Substitutes are a thing - There are some recipes where you can, to an extent, play around substituting ingredients depending on what you have and what you like. This is one of them. Cow's milk is perfect in this shake, but so are soya, almond and rice milks. #2 teenage son is a soya milk fan. Just so you know. Essential Waitrose Sweetened Soya is his milk of choice.
- And the most important of that 'stuff' that you need to know is ... - ...be SURE that the lid is on securely, before turning on the blender. As always, #2 teenage son has his own unique way of being sure that he has this nailed ... lift the whole jug up by the lid! It has its risks but better that than decorating the ceiling. Oh and to keep me happy, rest your hand on the lid too.
- Go easy with the speed - The secret with a Vitamix is to increase the speed SLOWLY. We've got this.
- Taste, taste, taste - Even though there's no cooking involved here, tasting for sweetness is still key - before the shake leaves the blender. He needed a touch more maple syrup this time.
- Don't forget the washing up - For the sake of family harmony, this is always essential when you set foot in the kitchen, but especially so with a Vitamix blender. Why? Because, if you leave it full of gunge it's HORRIBLE to clean later but more importantly it's so easy to do it. Add a spot of washing up liquid to the jug + a bit of water; make sure the lid is on; turn on the power and blitz at high speed for 1 minute; pour out the bubbles and rinse. Done and done.
And what did I learn?
- This is a perfect independent teenager snack - And easy too. Especially with the washing up thrown in.
- Let's build on this - Having a repertoire of a few healthy shakes/smoothies would be great for our teenagers, who are endlessly eyeing up their next snack. Watch this space.
And how were the shakes?
Healthy Chocolate and Peanut Butter Shakes are always a winner and these were no exception. #1 teenage son even stepped away from his homework to indulge, which feels like the definition of success. Now could I manage a second one?
And if you (and your teenagers) fancy joining us on this culinary journey do let us know by commenting and of course be sure to snap a photo of your dinner and hashtag it #marmaladeandme. I’d love to see how it goes for you.