Super Smoothies: Delicious & Nutritious

Smoothies are a great drink all year, but they are especially good during the summer, when seasonal fruits are at their best. Blueberries, strawberries, apples, peaches ... Blended fresh fruits and juices, loaded with fiber and vitamins, can kick-start your day. Add yogurt or soy milk and you've got a meal.

Forget sweetened, slushy concoctions made from powdered mixes and flavored syrups that pass for smoothies in fast-food restaurants and coffee shops. The best smoothies are the ones that you make at home in your blender. The smoothie concept is a simple one.

Start with fruit and add something that will bind with it, usually juice, yogurt, sherbet or soy milk. A bit of vanilla or mint adds extra taste to the mix.

To get that icy texture that makes a smoothie so refreshing, it's best to use frozen fruit. Many recipes call for ice, but ice dilutes the taste and takes the place of more nutritious ingredients. It's a bit of trouble to freeze the fruit ahead of time, but the perfect smoothie depends on it. Most smoothie lovers make up their own recipes, depending on what ripe fruit is on hand in the kitchen, but here are a couple to get you started. The first relies on those smoothie staples, strawberries and bananas. The second recipe is more filling, and if you use yogurt, makes a light summer meal. For both, start with the liquid ingredients and then add the frozen fruit. Blend until the texture is smooth. Each recipe serves two.

Smoothie Classico

1 cup orange juice
1 cup fresh strawberries, quartered and frozen
2 fresh bananas, sliced and frozen

Super Fruity Smoothie

½ cup mixed 100% fruit juice
1 cup raspberry sorbet (or vanilla yogurt)
1 fresh banana, sliced and frozen
1 ripe peach or nectarine, sliced and frozen
8 oz can chilled crushed pineapple with juice
½ cup fresh blueberries, frozen

Some smoothie-making tips:

  • Freeze fruit ahead of time. You can start by cutting up fruit and freezing it flat in plastic bags so that it can be easily measured. Fruit will freeze in two to four hours. It's also recommended to use juice frozen in ice cube trays.
  • If the fruit is clumping together, turn off the blender and stir up the bottom. If the mixture looks too thick, add more liquid, such as juice or yogurt. If the mixture looks too thin, add something frozen.
  • Keep it easy. If you don't want to prepare the fruit, buy it from the salad bar at the grocery store. Unsweetened frozen fruit or canned fruit in light syrup is good, too.
  • Think about color. A banana-pineapple-yogurt smoothie can look terrible until blueberries are added.
  • Use ingredients you like. It's fine to load your smoothies with nutritious ingredients such as oat milk and wheat germ as long as you like the taste. But smoothies quickly lose their appeal when you stray from foods you love. And if you're serving smoothies to children, keep experimentation to a minimum. Fresh fruit and juices and yogurt are good for kids. Don't push your luck.
  • Smoothies separate as they sit, so drink your smoothie right away. Save any extra smoothie in the freezer and microwave later to soften.
  • Be creative. Once you've mastered the basic chemistry of a smoothie (frozen fruit and a blender), the possibilities are endless.
  • Keep cleanup easy. Throw soapy water into your blender and turn on high.

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