What says summer better than an icy, fruity smoothie? And when made right, smoothies are nutritious, packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and – depending on the recipe – even protein. Smoothies are also a great way to sneak vegetables and other healthy foods into your family’s diet, hidden in plain sight.
Stock Up On the Basics
Keep plenty of these key ingredients in your freezer, preparing them ahead of time for easy and convenient use.
Bananas: Bananas are the base for many smoothies for a reason – they thicken the consistency and their natural sweetness will counter the sourest berry or brighten greens like spinach. Let bananas ripen to the point of being very soft and even a little brown, then peel and break into chunks before freezing.
Lemons: A little bit of the acidic flavor of lemon or lime really makes the flavor of a smoothie pop. Buy lemons and limes in bulk and juice them all at once. Then put the juice into ice cube trays and freeze. To free up the trays, take the cubes out when frozen and keep them frozen in plastic Ziploc bags.
Coconut Milk: Almost any smoothie flavor turns tropical with the addition of coconut mil, and it makes a good dairy substitute as well. Open a can of coconut milk and freeze it in an ice tray as above. Once frozen, transfer them to another storage container and keep in freezer.
Ginger: Ginger not only adds zing to fruit and veggie smoothies, it ‘s a natural anti-inflammatory. Buy a piece of fresh ginger, peel, and chop it into ½ -1 inch pieces. Store the pieces in the freezer in a plastic bag, jar, or bowl.
Experiment with Veggies
Don’t be leery of adding veggies to your smoothies. Carrots, beets, avocados and many of the sweeter vegetables can join the mix without tasting bitter – in fact, you might even be able to sneak them in. And many people like the taste of spinach, kale and other greens in smoothies; experiment with flavor combinations like kale-ginger or blueberry-avocado.
Go for Maximum Nutrition
Plain yogurt makes an excellent base for smoothies, and you can use frozen yogurt too, as long as you beware of added sugars. Other ingredients rich in protein and/or healthy fats include:
- Ground flax seed
- Chia seeds
And you can also add spices like cinnamon and turmeric, now known to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and keep blood sugar under control.
This basic smoothie recipe comes to us from Kim Newell, MD, a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, who uses smoothies to sneak in healthy ingredients that picky eaters might typically reject.