If you’re anything like me, you love all things smoothie. I could probably have one every day, if it weren’t for the fact that good smoothie ingredients are often ridiculously expensive. But what if I told you they don’t have to be? What if I told you that you can make a delicious, healthy and, most importantly, highly Instagrammable smoothie with just a banana, some almond milk, ice and free (yes, free) fruit you can find right here in Isla Vista?

Laura Tucker / Daily Nexus

Luckily, UCSB’s campus is home to a number of edible plants hidden right under your nose! Have you ever wondered what those pink, berry-looking things are on the bushes by the Thunderdome? Chances are, you’ve either never noticed them or thought they were poisonous. Well, they’re far from poisonous — and if you add them to a smoothie, they’ll give it a perfect millennial-pink hue.

Natal plums are most ripe in the summer and fall months, but our moderate temperature here at UCSB enables the plum to occasionally even be picked in winter! They grow on bushes with bright green leaves and small white flowers (like those lining the bike paths by the Thunderdome). You’ll know that a natal plum is ready to be harvested if it is a deep red color and slightly soft to the touch, but beware — natal plums produce a natural latex that, though safe to consume, definitely puts some folks off. They’re a great source of both vitamin C and calcium and have the texture of strawberries but without quite as much sweetness.

Laura Tucker / Daily Nexus

Here’s all you’ll need to make this (literally) wild smoothie:

  1. ½ cup almond milk
  2. 1  banana, chopped
  3. A handful of ice cubes
  4. 3 natal plums, chopped


Simply put all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth and voila!  A gorgeous fruit smoothie that barely costs a thing! And the best part is that you can just pick up more plums whenever you’d like on your daily trek to class. The more you explore the UCSB campus and the surrounding area, the more you’ll find delicious, wild-growing fruits and vegetables hiding right in plain sight. Not only is picking your own food a great way to keep grocery costs down, but it also provides an opportunity to truly interact with both your food and your environment. You’ll gain insightful knowledge on our local community and be able to prepare fun, new meals for yourself and your friends. So put on your foraging boots and get to it!