Chef Marcus Samuelsson: a secret ingredient in his smoothie to help with 'tough times'

Take the Yahoo Life post-Thanksgiving 5 Day Reset Your Breakfast Challenge to kick start your week. Follow along with us as we feature celebrity chefs who show us how to make a different breakfast every day this week.

You'll never guess the secret ingredient
Chef Marcus Samuelsson kicks off Yahoo Life's post-Thanksgiving 5-day Reset Your Breakfast Challenge

Chef Marcus Samuelsson wakes up to very full days: aside from his restaurants – including Red Rooster in Harlem – he just released a new cookbook, called The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food, has his own television show called No Passport Required, and serves as the global brand advisor for Bon Appetit. You might even have seen him on Top Chef. But even among all that, he hasn’t lost site of the importance of starting his day off right with breakfast, as he demonstrates from the kitchen of his Harlem home – while repping the neighborhood in his Harlem sweatshirt.

Samuelsson took on the Yahoo Life 5-Day Reset Your Breakfast Challenge with panache, showing off a recipe from his latest cookbook that weaves a traditional Caribbean and African ingredient into a quick and modern breakfast staple – the smoothie.

“How can we start our day healthy, but also delicious? We need it,” Samuelsson tells Yahoo Life. “There's tough times out there... and obviously we're all going through a very, very difficult time. So it never been more important to start your morning right.”

While smoothies offer infinite ways to customize a breakfast to your own tastes, they can be difficult to get just the right balance of crisp, savory, sweet, and tart flavors – unless you’re a star chef and armed with an infinitely cool superfood, to boot.

“I don’t know what those other chefs are doing, [but] I know what we’re eating and drinking here at the Samuelsson house, and we’re starting this with a really great, refreshing smoothie,” he tells Yahoo Life.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson prepares an Irish sea moss smoothie in his Harlem home.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson prepares an Irish sea moss smoothie in his Harlem home.

The base for Samuelsson’s smoothie comes from Irish sea moss, a type of algae that can be found a grocery stores around the country in its dried form. The mucilaginous seaweed gives foods a thick, smooth texture and has a reputation for soothing the throat and digestive tract. Considered a prebiotic and full of essential and immunity supporting ingredients, it makes the smoothie even more healthful than most.

Samuelsson starts his smoothie by soaking the sea moss overnight in a little water. Then in the morning he blends it up to make a sort of paste that he describes as healthy and delicious.

It's never been more important to start your morning right."Chef Marcus Samuelsson

He adds the puree to his blender, along with a few more of his favorite smoothie ingredients to amp up the flavor and texture, including almonds, fresh dates, and cucumber for that fresh, crisp bite. Granny Smith apples lend their tartness and bring in a taste of the season, while a little ginger and cayenne pepper really give the drink a punchy bite.

Then, before blending the whole drink together he brings one last wallop of flavor: Instead of watering anything down, he uses grapefruit juice, squeezed from fresh grapefruits, as the liquid in his smoothie. When the finished drink — a creamy ivory that pours into the glass– he finishes it off with one final squeeze of grapefruit juice, “just for garnish.” It results in a quick, simple, and healthful breakfast that can get the day started with something intriguing and delicious.


  • 3 oz. (about 1 cup) Irish sea moss

  • Juice of 2 grapefruits

  • 2 Granny Smith apples

  • 2 tbsp. sliced almonds

  • 4 fresh dates, seeds removed

  • 1⁄2 medium cucumber

  • 1⁄2-inch piece fresh ginger

  • Pinch of cayenne pepper


Place the sea moss in a bowl, cover with water, and soak for 15 minutes. Drain and cover with water again. Soak overnight at room temperature. Drain the sea moss, cut into small pieces, and set aside.

Juice the apples, ginger, and cucumber and combine with the grapefruit juice.

Add the juice to a high-speed blender along with the sea moss, almonds, dates, and cayenne and process until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

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