I love fruits and vegetables, and try to eat them as often as possible. Sometimes however, even I have a hard time getting my daily intake of plant foods, and eating a large variety can be difficult on my busiest days.
This is where smoothies come in. Usually made of fruit, smoothies are nothing more than fresh and frozen fruit pureed in a blender with a little bit of liquid (juice, milk, or water) maybe some yogurt or nut butter and even sometimes vegetables.
There are many benefits of smoothies from a health standpoint. For one thing, you can throw in a serving of several fruits and veggies and get almost an entire days worth in one sitting. Full of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, smoothies are fast and filling, proving to be a great quick meal in the morning or anytime you are in a hurry.
You also don’t need any fancy equipment to make smoothies, just a blender that will crush ice or frozen fruit, although if you find yourself making a lot of smoothies on a regular basis, a high powered blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec is a worthwhile investment as they can blend just about anything into a smooth and creamy treat and will last for years.
What can you blend? Well, just about anything. My favorites include bananas, berries and flax. Blend this with a little orange juice and plain yogurt and you’ve got a high antioxidant meal that will keep you going for hours. Almond butter blends nicely with bananas and strawberries and if you throw in a handful of spinach or other greens, you’ve got yourself a health powerhouse.
Make sure you don’t confuse smoothie with milkshakes, and avoid using ice cream, frozen yogurt or other high calorie sweetened treats in your smoothies. These add unnecessary fat and calories and mask the flavor of the fresh fruit. I rarely use sweeteners, but if I’m blending something that needs it such as unsweetened cocoa powder, I use a bit of honey or a date or two.
I also rarely buy smoothies when I’m out; I’ve found most smoothie places use either too many sweeteners or smoothie “mixes” which may be real fruit, but they also may be fruit mixed with other ingredients I don’t want. Not to mention, ordering a smoothie at one of the hot new smoothie places creeping up in town are pretty expensive for something I can make in seconds in my own kitchen.
For a basic smoothie, simply add about 1/2 cup liquid to your blender, followed by a banana (I put bananas in most of my smoothies; they add creaminess without many calories, and they’re good for you too), a cup of frozen fruit of your choice and about a quarter cup of plain yogurt. Blend until smooth, pour into glassed and enjoy!