Last week I wrote about no/low-cal ways to dress up your water, providing you with variety when you need hydration the most. But what about when the summer heat is so hot, you don’t even feel like a meal? My husband and I play tennis every morning, and a berry smoothie is perfect before or after a match, or if you need nourishment and energy, but don’t want to eat something heavy. Even Starbucks is getting into the smoothie game, but why drink their inevitably processed concoctions when you can make your own from fresh, unprocessed ingredients? Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are all over the farmer’s markets, or, if they’re available, gooseberries, lingonberries, loganberries, or bilberries make unique additions to a smoothie. Berries are also full of vitamins and antioxidants; you can’t beat them for a sweet treat that’s good for you as well. Megan included them in her top ten quick, healthy, sustainable snacks, and the Green Diva mentioned them in her five ways to enjoy berries.
Best of all, they’re quick and forgiving–you can make them with whatever ingredients you have on hand, and tailor your recipe to your own tastes. They can easily be made vegan, too.
There are two schools of thought on how to make a frosty smoothie: some people use frozen berries, others use fresh berries and ice. I’m a fan of the former, as this ensures your smoothie won’t be watered down. You can freeze berries you’ve picked up locally, or you can buy pre-frozen berries (in the winter, I love the berry mix from Trader Joe’s).
For one large smoothie, you need about a cup and a half of frozen berries–I like ’em thick. Use less if you like a thinner drink. In your blender or food processor, whir the berries, your choice of sweetener (sugar, stevia, or honey: again, whatever you have), and your choice of liquid (milk, soy/rice/hemp milk, fruit juice). I also like to add some form of protein–low-fat yogurt works well, as does protein powder or natural peanut butter. How delicious does a strawberry smoothie with peanut butter sound? It’s like drinking a PB&J.
Many people use bananas in their smoothies, although I’m not a fan, and I’ve also tried adding fresh mint from my garden, which adds an even more refreshing taste.
Berry mixes are quite common for smoothies. What’s your favorite unique blender combination?