Die-hard smoothie-junkies who have been making shakes for years with fruit and milk or yogurt ask me WHY, oh why do I use the gums!? I tell them that I am very particular about the consistency of my shakes. However, if they are happy with the results of their smoothies, they should NOT change a thing that they do!
I began making smoothies to help with my 90-pound weight loss. You can read about that here and here. My goal was to get as much smoothie-licious volume into a huge tumbler for as few calories as possible, while incorporating lots of flavor.
My basic shakes have always consisted of water, protein powder and lots of ice for volume. Unless the protein powder has the gums inside already (MANY DO! Read the label!), then this provides a hideous mix of, well, ice-y and protein-y water. Ick. I don't even remember how I discovered the gums all those years ago, but they soon became a staple in my pantry.
I do add lots of goodies to my smoothies: fruit, nut butters, sugar-free syrups, pudding powders, crystal lite powders, eye of newt (just seeing if you're paying attention), stevia, etc. However, I am trying to go more 'au natural' when I can. My all-time favorite, go-to smoothie is the PB&J smoothie and you can find that here in my Smoothie Palooza Post.
In my "research"- i.e. my kitchen disasters & successes- the xanthan gum adds thickness and the guar gum adds creaminess and makes the smoothie less icy. Together, the two work better than either one alone. If you click on the links to the Wikepedia discussions, you will see that the gums work better together than apart- something that I learned in my kitchen as well.
I will be perfectly honest when I tell you that I do not measure out the gums. I know that I sprinkle or shake a small dose of the xanthan gum and a larger dose of the guar gum. Once Heabs of Heather Eats Almond Butter asked me to measure it- so the next shake I made, I doled out what would be my usual amounts and measured:
- 1/4 tsp Guar Gum
- 1/8 tsp Xanthan Gum
If I see that it's not thick enough I'll add a tiny bit more xanthan. If it's icy but not creamy enough, I'll add more guar. It is way more art than science and you will need to play around with it on a day-to-day basis yourself. My advice: start small and add to it slowly.
CAUTION: THERE IS A POINT OF NO RETURN if you add too much of the gums (especially xanthan, so be light-handed!)-it becomes revolting and completely inedible. At that point it's either a "Sinker" (ie goes down the sink), or you double the amount of water and everything else in the recipe except the gums and try again. But it's very important to cross your fingers and toes. And if you have animals in the house like I do, you make them cross their paws, because you'll need all the luck you can get, and there is no guarantee that you'll salvage your breakfast/post workout recovery drink.
- If you add too much xanthan, it becomes a gelatinous blob...down the sink.
- If you add too much guar it becomes like chewing gum...down the sink.
- If you hit the Goldie-Locks "just right" spot, you'll wonder how you ever lived your life without the gums.
Click here for Information on Guar Gum
Click here for Information Xanthan Gum
Edited to Add: The Gums do have calories FYI: According to Bob's Red Mill: For 7g (a Tablespoon) of Guar there are 20 calories and 6g carbohydrates. For 9g of Xanthan (a Tablespoon) there are 30 calories and 7g carbohydrates. Note: these are huge amounts and you would NEVER use this much in a smoothie, ever, ever, ever! Click here and here for Bob's Info.
Here are some examples of smoothies past...PS I much prefer to sit down and EAT my smoothie with a spoon...
No joke- all of this PB&J came from that ONE packet of Jay Robb protein powder that Heabs sent me. Can you even imagine attempting to finish HALF of this? FYI, on the left is a HUMONGOUS VitaMix.