With outdoor temperatures rising, it’s time to break out the blender and start whipping up some frosty, fruity and flavorful smoothies.
The beauty of smoothies is that you can add just about anything to them from kiwi to carrots. And this time of year, there is no shortage of options.
Great things to add are seasonal fruits like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, figs, apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines. Others like to blend veggies into the mix, such as spinach, kale, squash or carrots.
Nutritionists say smoothies are great way to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption, but they say to be careful not to add too many extra calories. Ice cream and fruit juices with added sugars should be avoided.
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“That is a milkshake,” says Kim Tirapelle, a registered dietitian at Kaiser Permanente Fresno.
Lifestyle blogger Annie Foreman of Fresno, Calif., has upped her smoothie game by prepping her ingredients and freezing them. When she or her family want something refreshing to drink, all she has to do is pull a prepped plastic bag out of the freezer, blend it with a liquid and pour.
“It takes about five minutes, tops,” says Foreman, author of www.therealhousewifeoffresno.com. “And with all the fruit available you can create lots of different types of smoothies.”
While fresh fruit is great when it’s in season, don’t be shy about using frozen fruits or vegetables. Foreman is fond of buying a bag of frozen mixed berries and a large package of spinach.
She also recommends using overripe fruit that may be too squishy to eat but works fine in a blender for a smoothie.
“I hate throwing away food, and this is a good way to reduce food waste,” she says.
As her liquid base, Foreman uses almond milk or plain yogurt.
Tirapelle agrees that one good way to lower the drink’s calorie content is look for alternatives to whole milk or fruit juice. She says coconut water and skim milk are also good options, as are water or ice. And for added thickness you can even add a scoop of avocado.
Tirapelle says flax seeds and chia seeds are also a good source of protein and fiber, if you want something more than just a snack.
Some new yogurt brands, like Siggi’s Icelandic-style yogurt, are loaded with protein, have less sugar and can make a good base for your smoothie.
Tara Hamilton, former owner of Organic Fresno, a Fresno restaurant, has been making healthy smoothies for years. She tells parents to go easy on the greens because the taste can easily overpower the drink.
Hamilton says not to add more than two handfuls of greens and make sure to strip the greens off the stalk to make it easier to digest. She generally uses about a cup of fruit in her recipes and she likes to freeze her fruit before adding to the blender.
“I like it that way because it makes it nice and slushy,” she says. “And that’s perfect during the summer.”
FREEZER PREP SMOOTHIE
By Annie Foreman, realhousewifeoffresno.com
1 cup spinach
4 large frozen strawberries
3/4 cup frozen blueberries and raspberries
1/4 sliced banana
3/4 to 1 cup of almond milk or plain yogurt
You can prep your smoothies so it’s simple and quick when you want one: To assemble, put your fruit and veggies in a Ziploc plastic bag and freeze.
When you’re ready for your drink, add your liquid base (almond milk or yogurt) and then place the contents of your freezer bag into the blender and blend until smooth. You can add protein powder if you like.
By Stephanie Vucovich Cholakian
2 cups kale
1/2 fennel bulb
3-4 sprigs mint
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (can substitute coconut water or soy milk)
Blend the kale and mint with the liquid base of your choosing. Then add cucumber and fennel, blend well.
Add apples and banana — blend well and add more banana if additional sweetness is needed. Pour into a glass and serve.
PEACH PIE SMOOTHIE
By Tara Hamilton
1 1/2 cups of frozen peaches
4 ounces of plain cultured yogurt
2 ounces of water
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
3 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
Combine yogurt, water, chia seeds, nutmeg and cinnamon in a blender until well mixed. Add frozen fruit and blend to desired consistency. Pour into glass.