Smoothies can be the ideal quick breakfast or perfect snack that packs a powerful punch with healthy antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients. However, for the smoothie to be a healthy drink your best bet is to prepare it at home. Opt for a local store variety and you could end up with a smoothie brimming with sugars and fats from all that fancy yogurt, sherbet and even ice cream that they blend into it.
Smoothies are easy to make at home and you have the additional advantage of experimenting with different fruits and flavor combinations. Before you go wild with smoothie experiments, here are a few strategies to keep in mind.
Rethink your liquids: When blending your perfect smoothie, think beyond water or milk as the primary liquid. For instance, you can opt for almond milk or coconut water as a base for a slightly sweet flavor and their added health benefits, or even go green by opting for green tea as your base.
Freeze the fruit: Instead of adding ice to keep your smoothies cold and thick, just blend in some frozen fruit. Frozen bananas are especially creamy when blended and frozen grapes are just delicious.
If you know you are going to make a lot of smoothies, store some extra fruit in freezer bags so they are ready to pop into the blender. If you forget to freeze your fruit ahead of time, you could always use fresh fruit and just add ice.
Texturize: Sipping the same smoothies day after day can get monotonous. Give your smoothies a different daily texture by adding various nutritious grains or seeds. Try adding some pre-soaked chia seeds to give your smoothie a thick gel-like texture. The seeds absorb water and develop a gluey coating that provides the distinct texture as well as a host of nutritional benefits.
Blend in some vegetables: Kids, and also adults, who are wary of vegetables, will in most cases not even taste the vegetables once they are blended with the fruits. This could prove a surreptitious yet effective way of ensuring your children get their daily serving of veggies.
Caffeinate: Smoothies are most commonly consumed for breakfast, so why not go ahead and add some extra oomph in the form of coffee or tea to help put a little pep in your step? You can use iced coffee concentrate if available or go for chilled regular coffee.
Base recipe: While you are free to improvise to your heart's content, here is basic recipe to start you out on your smoothie adventure: 2 cups frozen fruit of your choice; ¾ cup liquid of your choice, ½ cup plain yogurt, sprinkling of flavorings with spices of your choice.
Short recipes to try:
Strawberry rhubarb crumble smoothie: In the blender, place two tablespoons of quick-cooking rolled oats (uncooked) and ¼ cup low fat milk and let it soak for five minutes. Once done, add 1 ½ cups frozen strawberries, ½ cup roughly chopped fresh rhubarb, ½ cup low-fat Greek yogurt, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, one teaspoon vanilla extract and one teaspoon honey in the same order and blend until smooth.
Carrot cake smoothie: In the blender, add the following ingredients in order: Two tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, two tablespoons roughly chopped walnuts, ¾ cup grated carrot (one large carrot), ½ cup frozen peeled orange segments, ½ banana, sliced and frozen, ½ cup low-fat Greek yogurt, one teaspoon ground cinnamon, one teaspoon vanilla extract and ½ cup coconut water. One done, blend until smooth.
Mocha almond smoothie:
In a blender add the following ingredients in the order mentioned and blend until smooth: One cup frozen raspberries, ½ sliced banana, two scoops chocolate protein powder, ½ cup iced coffee concentrate or ¾ cup chilled regular coffee, ¼ cup almond milk or regular low-fat milk and one teaspoon honey.