Tess Masters says to make yours a blended family

Tess Masters says to make yours a blended family
"Blender Girl" author Tess Masters goes crazy for her kale smoothie. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

When did eating get so complicated? Should you eat like a caveman? Detox? Go vegan before 6?

Tess Masters offers this simple suggestion: Just eat more veggies. And fruit.


We sat down with Masters, a Los Angeles blogger who has more than 30,000 Twitter followers and author of "The Blender Girl: 100 Gluten-Free, Vegan Recipes," who uses her book — as well as a new iPhone and iPad app — to blend up a much-needed message of moderation. (Yes, even though its title might suggest otherwise.)

Why the blender?

It's the most accessible way to get more fruits and vegetables into your lifestyle. It's really an alternative to fast food. That's why I believe the blender is an essential item in any kitchen. Blending is a celebration of whole foods and getting the most delicious foods to the table in the least amount of time. It's just fun. I don't know anyone who doesn't enjoy a smoothie. Plus, there's very little clean-up.

Your cookbook has recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and, of course, beverages. But I'm not sure I'm ready to drink my food for the rest of my life.

Just start with one healthy smoothie a day, or a few times a week, and see how that goes. No one says you need to do this all the time. Switch it up, mix it up and get the kids involved. This is a great way to get imaginative in the kitchen. It's a good way to get kids to feed themselves. [That said, children should have adult supervision when operating a blender.] I like the "small steps, big changes" approach. I think adding one green smoothie is something that everybody can do.

You have some pretty far-out flavor combinations in this book. Are there some things that simply don't belong in a smoothie?

You are talking about the pineapple salsa smoothie? It's onion in a fruit smoothie. I know, it sounds crazy. But it's an amazing sweet, savory and spicy combination. The chocolate kale shake is the one that gets the most attention. But I swear I get 100 emails a week about that shake from parents saying, "I couldn't get my kid to eat something green, and he loves it!" It's great for kids or green-aphobes. It literally tastes like ice cream.

It's really hard to mess this up. There's rarely a point of no return. If something needs a bit of sweetness, a banana can cure it. If something is too sweet, add some leafy greens. If it's too salty, avocado or coconut meat will help. And they are also great for adding creaminess to blends without the dairy. If something is too spicy, add another piece of fruit. I like to say, "Experiment with flavors, but do so a tiny piece at a time."

What if I want to make my smoothie in advance to save time?

You hear some people say "It needs to be made fresh, the nutrients start to degrade right away…" but I say that the simple reality is that we are all busy. So, sometimes it is just not possible to make something and eat it immediately. If you make it in advance, you are still getting some nutrients and it's still better than not having it at all. We don't need to be dogmatic or extreme. So make it, and put it into a glass jar, like a Mason jar, and keep it in the fridge

Can you settle the age-old debate: blending or juicing? What's best?

There's room for both. With blending — putting all the ingredients into a blender — you get all that fiber. It's more satisfying. More like a meal, I like to feel like I'm chewing on something when I eat a meal. So blending for a meal does that. But I turn to juicing when I need to give my body a break. I juice-cleanse one day of every week to give my system a break, and then I juice-fast for three days at the start of every season.