A meal in a smoothie?


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Smoothies are tasty options when you're thirsty on a hot summer day. But smoothies - especially ones carefully constructed from nutritious ingredients - can be more than that. They can, if needed, be a meal.

When it's brutally hot outside and you don't want to heat up the house with a traditional dinner - and want to help maintain appropriate hydration - smoothies could be just the thing. Plus, you can even customize them for each member of the family. The key to smoothies as meals is thoughtful selection of excellent ingredients. With some thought to what is going in, you can create a smoothie that delivers much of the day's suggested servings of significant nutrients, drawing from major food groups. You can get your fruits and vegetables, your dairy, even your protein. While grains are a little tougher to process into a smoothie, you can balance that nutrient in another meal.

Fruits & juices in smoothies

Fruits and juices are probably the most obvious and easiest smoothie ingredients to choose. What's fresh and local in your town right now? What can you juice? Just about any fruit makes a delicious smoothie ingredient, and combinations are fun to try. Peach-banana? Blueberry-plum? It's all about what sounds good to you.

Vegetables in smoothies

Smoothie ingredients aren't limited to just fruits and fruit juices. Vegetables can make terrific smoothie additions and add even more nutrients. Carrots and beets can both be juiced and are delicious smoothie additions; beet juice adds fabulous color, too! Celery and wheatgrass are other interesting additions and steamed spinach can add an iron boost. For a real kick, try adding sweet peppers. Just about any juicy vegetable is worth a try.

Dairy and non-dairy smoothie alternatives

Dairy is also an easy addition to smoothies - as long as it's in the form of yogurt, not ice cream or cheese. You can choose a plain or flavored yogurt, regular or Greek-style to add a bit of creaminess and calcium to your blender meal. If you don't have yogurt handy, low-fat milk will do. You can also go the non-dairy route and try rice milk or another dairy substitute. The bigger point is to add a little creaminess.

Protein in smoothies

You may wonder how you can get protein in a smoothie meal. There are actually several options: you can use nut milks such as almond milk, blend in soft tofu for protein and creaminess, or - and most simply - add protein powder. Protein powder is available at health food stores both as a plain powder and flavored for nearly instant smoothies.

Additional nutrients in smoothies

To give your smoothies even more of a boost, you can add other nutrients like a tablespoon of flax seed or other vitamin powders. Your local health food store is a great place to start for such nutrients. Just try not to go overboard! Nutrients are terrffic - until they make your smoothie too gritty.

Garnish and sip that smoothie slow

When your smoothie is finally done, don't forget presentation. A little garnish and a straw go a long way to helping you and your family appreciate the cool calories on a hot night...and help you remember to savor your concoction.

Banana carrot smoothie with wheat germ recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple
  • water
  • Non-fat yogurt
  • Wheat germ

Directions:

  1. Puree in a blender until smooth.

Strawberry celery smoothie recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 sticks of celery
  • Apple juice
  • 6 strawberries
  • Strawberry yogurt
  • Ground flax seed

Directions:

  1. Puree in a blender until smooth.

Beet protein smoothie recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 beets, peeled, steamed, and chopped
  • Mixed fresh or frozen berries
  • Several kale leaves
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Protein powder
  • Plain or vanilla rice milk

Directions:

  1. Puree in a blender until smooth.

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