Smoothies 101

Food, Hometown Cooking
on June 8, 2012

Smoothies prepared with fresh fruit and other nutritious ingredients can be a delicious way to enjoy healthy foods as a snack or part of a meal. When creating smoothies in your home kitchen, consider these 10 tips for the perfect blend of flavor and nutrition.

1. Liquid first. Many blender manufacturers remind users to add the liquid first when making a smoothie. This helps get the blender moving smoothly while floating the fruit (fresh or frozen) and ice (if it’s being used).

2. Fresh fruit last. Add the fresh fruit last after blending the other ingredients.

3. Start with low speed. Never begin blending a smoothie on a high setting. Start low and slowly increase the speed. You should see a vortex forming at the center of the ingredients as the speed increases and everything begins to blend.

4. Crushed, not cubed, ice. If using ice, opt for crushed, not cubed, as it will blend quicker and easier. To keep the smoothie from being watered down, try using about one-half cup for a 16-ounce drink.

5. Frozen fruit. Freeze ripe bananas, blueberries and other fruits to keep on hand when a smoothie craving hits. Using frozen fruit can eliminate the need for ice as a chilling agent in the smoothie.

6. Ripe bananas. Always use ripe bananas when making smoothies. If the banana is not ripe, the overall flavor will be not as sweet. Bananas combine deliciously with blueberries and strawberries. Or try a frozen banana and peanut butter blended with low-fat vanilla yogurt and skim milk for a flavorful, filling smoothie.

7. Creative combinations. Don’t be afraid to try new flavor combinations. Consider a tropical twist with mango, low-fat lemon yogurt, pineapple and a splash of orange juice. For a cool treat, try cantaloupe, blueberries, skim milk and vanilla yogurt. Yogurt also can be frozen in ice cube trays and added to smoothies instead of ice.

8. Honey. If sweetener is needed, opt for honey versus sugar. Honey will blend smoother. Agave is another option.

9. Green smoothies for added veggies. A green smoothie gets its name from the green vegetable(s) it contains. This may be a vegetable such as kale or Romaine lettuce. Kale adds a sharper flavor than Romaine lettuce. One cup chopped kale also adds 90 milligrams of calcium, 1.3 grams fiber, and vitamins C and K, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) nutrient database.

10. Fruit juice base. Fruit juices such as orange, cranberry, apple and pineapple juice make for tasty liquid bases. Depending on the other ingredients, skim milk, soymilk or almond milk can be used as well. Typically, the “milks” do not pair well with citrus fruits.