More and more days are blessing us with sun and warmth lately. Warm weather always makes me crave a cool treat, how about you? A healthier alternative to frozen desserts like popsicles, ice cream, and milkshakes is smoothies. Smoothies are naturally sweet from fruit, a good source of dairy, and can even be a sneaky way to add more vegetables to your day. Here are my four steps to build a better smoothie.
Tip: If you have fresh fruit that is getting overripe, toss it in the freezer to use for a smoothie so it does not go to waste!
Pick a Few Fruit Favorites
Most of the flavor of a smoothie comes from the fruits that are added. Some fruits, such as pineapple and mango, will create a tart, refreshing smoothie. Other fruits, such as blueberry and banana, will give it a creamy sweet taste. Canned, frozen, and fresh fruits all work well for a smoothie. Using frozen fruits removes the need for ice in the smoothie. One cup of fruit is typically enough. If the fruit is not frozen, toss a handful of ice cubes in the blender as well.
- Add a Bone Building Dairy or a Calcium-Rich Juice
Milk, almond milk, soy milk, and yogurt are all good additions to a smoothie that will increase its calcium amount. A good rule of thumb is to use equal amounts of fruit and dairy. If you use ½ a cup of fruit, balance it out with ½ a cup of yogurt. If you prefer not to use a dairy or dairy substitute as your liquid, use a juice with calcium such as 100% orange juice instead.
If you are making a smoothie because you want a lot of vegetables, try this Celebrate Your Plate recipe that has 1 cup of spinach per serving: Sunrise Smoothie
- Sneak in a Vegetable
Getting the recommended 2.5 cups of vegetables every day can be a challenge! Adding a bit of spinach, kale, or cauliflower to a smoothie can help you meet that goal without changing the taste of the smoothie much. Tip: If you find kale to be bitter, try “massaging” it before adding it to your smoothie. This decreases the bitter taste. How much should you add? It’s up to you! I usually add a handful of spinach, and I can’t taste it. One of the best things about smoothies is that you can easily change the amounts of ingredients to suit your taste.
Finally, I like to add a bit of protein to my smoothie. The dairy options in Step 2 add plenty of protein, but adding a spoonful of nut butter or nut butter powder is delicious. A tablespoon of peanut butter will give your smoothie a creamy taste. You can also try using tofu, as in this CYP recipe: https://celebrateyourplate.org/node/229
Note: The above recommendations are to make a single serving. If you do not have a blender, try adding all the ingredients to a bag and mash them up by hand. Soft frozen fruits such as bananas and raspberries will mash up fairly easily, and kids love the interactive method.