What's for Breakfast?

A review - or arguably, a rant - about Soylent and a no-recipe recipe for a basic smoothie

Welcome to smoothie month! August’s recipes will be variations on one of the most popular “healthy” breakfasts and something that I eat/drink for my “second breakfast” pretty regularly.

Of course, you can buy smoothies — at the store, at restaurants, from online retailers. But what I like about making them myself isn’t merely that I can choose the ingredients; it’s that, as a "texture eater,” I can get the consistency I like.

It was the consistency, I confess, that I was most worried about when I recently sampled Soylent. There are lots of food and fitness technologies that, now that I'm writing this newsletter, I'm going to test out — I tried the Gatorade Sweat Patch on my runs this past week, for example, to gauge how much I sweat and how salty it is. Story TK. And Soylent is surely representative of the food technology trend — not just an highly-engineered food supplement, but one that markets itself to technologists in particular as a superior form nutrition because of this very engineering. And truth be told, I didn't mind the idea of a protein drink I could take with me to the gym — something to consume after I lifted. (Despite what you'll hear from some influencers, you don't really need to ingest protein within 20 minutes of a workout; that said I am always so damn hungry afterwards, and why be miserable on the bus or bike ride home, eh?)

I’ve long mocked Soylent. I mean, the name obviously. WTAF. Why do programmers take dystopian fiction and make it the basis of their philosophy? (See also: Salman Khan and Ender’s Game; Mark Zuckerberg and Ready Player One.)

Soylent has always struck me too as rather representative of so much of the Silicon Valley “innovation” that I abhor — this insistence that they've come up with a brilliant new idea, when in fact they’ve done next to no research into the history of the product or field. I mean, meal replacement drinks? Um, not new. Not remotely.

Soylent markets itself not only as a perfectly engineered meal, but as a “productivity hack” — why waste time with food preparation (reproductive labor is so emasculating, or something) when you can focus on moving fast and breaking things.

“Soylent Green is people.” There's just no way I can get that out of my head every time I go to drink one. Indeed, I imagined that, somehow, the consistency of the product would be "people" — whatever that might mean. Blood? Semen? Vomit? Turns out, it’s milk. Soylent is fine, I guess. I didn't gag. But I’ll finish up the sample variety pack I ordered and find a different something for my post-workout snack — something I have to chew, I reckon.

And just let me editorialize here for a couple more paragraphs before I give you the recipe: 400 calories in Soylent? Kids, that’s not enough to be a meal replacement. EAT MORE.

Soylent’s meal replacement drinks contain 20 grams of protein. The smoothies I make at home have more, thanks to the addition of protein powder (more on that in next week’s essay) and yogurt or cottage cheese (more on that in this week’s essay).

What I have for you today is a no-recipe recipe. That is, I’ve written a rough outline to what goes into my smoothies, some suggestions for ingredients and the amounts that you might want to use. But it's really up to you to improvise your way to the smoothie you desire. (Don't worry. I'm not going to pull these shenanigans for the whole month’s worth of recipes. Just today’s.)

My Basic Smoothie No-Recipe

Servings: 1


  • Something protein, something creamy: 1/2 cup or so of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt or Skyr or ricotta cheese or silken tofu
  • Something fruity: 1 banana and/or 1/2 cup or so of fresh or frozen fruit
  • Some more protein: protein powder, hemp hearts, nuts
  • Something liquid: water or juice to get the consistency you like
  • Something cold: a handful of ice cubes


Blend. Drink.

Caption this stock image...

A note on blenders: you don’t need to get the top-of-the-line, $500 one: the Vitamix 5000 or some such device with blades that can grind a human into a batch of Soylent Green. But if you are going to blend ice on a regular basis, you should probably invest in one that can do so. I'd say "see Wirecutter for recommendations" but my god, they want you to buy the $500 one, don't they. I think mine is an Oster.

One more note: the paywall for Second Breakfast will drop on August 11. Free subscribers will still receive the Friday newsletter, containing all the week’s food and fitness technology news. They’ll probably get a sneak peek at the recipe too, which I always seem to introduce with way too much verbiage — a little temptation to pay. Paid subscribers get all three newsletters: Monday’s “What’s For Breakfast,” Thursday’s essay, and Friday’s “What’s Good?” It’s a lot of Audrey in your email inbox, I realize. But I appreciate your supporting my work.