If you're like most people, you may be guilty of overindulging a bit during the holidays. Once the New Year comes around, I'm usually ready to switch gears and detox with some light, nutritious smoothies. Smoothies are great because they're easy to make and you can incorporate a wide variety of ingredients depending on your taste. They can be enjoyed as a snack or even as a meal replacement depending on what you put in them. All you need is a blender and a little creativity. Here's a quick guide for making your own healthy smoothies at home.
When concocting your smoothies, there are a few different components to consider:
- Liquid base- milk or fruit juice if often used as the main liquid base in smoothies. You can also try other varieties of milk like soy or almond milk. Fruit juices often contain a lot of sugar so be sure to read the labels. Other options are coconut milk, coconut water, coffee, tea or water.
- Fruits and Vegetables- try using a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your smoothies. And don't forget the frozen aisle of the grocery store when fresh fruits are out of season. Fruits with a higher water content (like watermelon, grapes or oranges) will give the smoothies a thinner consistency than denser fruit like bananas (which are often used to thicken smoothies). I like to keep frozen bananas in my freezer so that I have them ready to pop into the blender when I'm in the mood for a cold drink.
- Sweetener- depending on the ingredients you choose, you may need to add a little extra sweetener. You can use liquid sweeteners like honey, maple syrup or agave or traditional sugar. Pitted dates are a great natural sweetener.
- Flavorings- extracts like vanilla or almond extract and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are easy ways to add flavor to your smoothie without adding calories.
- Nutritional Add-Ins- for a boost of protein, I often add some nonfat Greek yogurt to my smoothies. Almond butter, peanut butter and protein powders are other good high protein options. For a boost of omega-3s, fiber and antioxidants, you can add in some flaxseed or chia. Oats are another great addition to add fiber to smoothies and thicken them.
- Ice- I usually add in some ice cubes to chill my smoothies and thicken them. If you are using frozen fruit, you'll need less ice.
Once you have your ingredients ready, simply place them in a blender and blend until smooth. In just a few minutes, you'll have a delicious, nutritious and portable snack. To get started, try my Tropical Green Smoothie. This recipe is a great introduction to green smoothies. Because of the tropical flavors, you'd never be able to tell that it's packed with nutritious kale!
Tropical Green Smoothie
Makes 2 servings
3 cups chopped kale
1 ½ cups chopped pineapple
¾ cup light coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoons fresh, grated ginger
1 cup ice cubes
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into two glasses and serve cold.
One serving: Calories 194; Fat 5.7g (Sat 4.6g); Protein 5.5g; Carb 35.6g; Fiber 4.5g