I like smoothies because they’re easy and nutritious, so my first ingredients are fruits and veggies, especially the latter.
Smoothies can be as creative and nutritious as you like, limited only by your imagination and the ingredients in your kitchen. If you’re new to smoothies, start here.
Here are my tips for packing in those fruits and veggies.
CHOOSING YOUR FRUIT/VEGETABLES
Consider texture, as well as flavor. For example, apples and carrots add a lot of bulk, which I don’t prefer. Most berries are very liquid, but strawberries will make a thicker smoothie.
By now my family will slurp up smoothies of any color, but at first you might find odd colors, produced by a lot of greens, off-putting. If that’s a concern, you can start off with blueberries. The deep bluish purple will cover the green in a little spinach or parsley. If a great flavor combo gives you a not so good color, you can serve it in an opaque cup. You can’t lose with blues and reds — you’ll have a gorgeous spectrum of purples. Show these off in a stemmed glass or pilsner.
Berries of any kind, especially blueberries. They are high in antioxidants and conveniently frozen.
Coconut: You can use dried (unsweetened), but fresh is better, if you don’t mind the cracking and extraction process. Coarsely grate and freeze.
Baby spinach is readily available pre-washed. It adds nutrition without being intrusive.
Beets add beautiful color and earthy flavor. Roast a bunch, cube (or leave whole) and freeze for smoothies.
Swiss chard is high in nutrients. It’s a little fibrous and earthy. Great with chocolate.
Parsley makes a refreshing drink.
Sprouts (any kind) add a very “green” taste, which I love.
Wheat Grass is usually juiced, but I use it in my smoothies. It’s very fibrous and should be chopped. I love the flavor, and because it’s nutritionally dense, I try to pack it in, but it does make a very thick smoothie. If you use it in a creamy smoothie, you won’t notice the pulpy fibers.
Bananas are in a category by themselves. They add creaminess and are the backbone of many of my smoothies. I buy several bunches at a time. Wait until the bananas are riddled with brown spots — very sweet, but not so ripe that they have begun to turn brown inside. Peel and toss into a zippered freezer bag. Spread them out a bit so that they’re easy to separate when frozen.
PREPARING YOUR FRUIT/VEGETABLES
Cut your fruit/vegetables into manageable chunks, especially if it’s frozen. Depending on your blender, this may not be absolutely necessary, but it makes for more efficient blending.
If you’re adding chunks of frozen fruit, it’s best to let them thaw out a bit. You want them frozen, but not rock solid. You should be able to cut larger pieces easily by pressing with a sharp knife. Whole bananas take less than a minute to reach cutting consistency, while some items, like papayas, whole strawberries, and beets, will take a bit longer.
Pull out these ingredients first, so they’re a perfect consistency by the time you’re ready to add them. I “thaw” and slice my frozen ingredients directly on a sheet of waxed paper, which makes a convenient funnel for sliding everything into the blender.
Do you enjoy smoothies? What are some of your favorite ingredients?