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Summer Smoothies

Quick Steps to Healthy Vegan Drinks

by Judith Fertig

CE_0714_WomanMakingSmoothiesSmoothies offer big nutrition in a small package. Based on a vegan source of lean protein like coconut milk, yogurt, soy, chia seeds or a vegan protein powder made from dried beans or hemp, they can energize us for a full day of summer activities.

Other ingredients follow the peak of summer crops. Berries, greens, melon, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, celery, carrots and stone fruits like peaches and mangoes add antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. A tablespoon or two of healthy fats such as milled flax seeds, hemp or nut butter adds richness to the flavor, while providing omega-3 fatty acids necessary for complete nutrition. For the finale, add a touch of sweetness from fruits, maple syrup, agave nectar or stevia.

The best way to mix a smoothie is to start with either a liquid or an ingredient with a thicker consistency, like yogurt, placed in a standard or high-speed performance blender. Next, add the desired fruits or vegetables and flavorings, followed by ice. Start on a slower speed, holding down the lid tightly, before increasing the speed to achieve a velvety texture. If the smoothie is too thin, add more frozen fruit or ice. Freezing the fruits first and then blending them into a smoothie can substitute for ice. Peeling bananas before freezing them makes smoothie-making easier. Freezing the fruits in recipe-size portions also simplifies the process.

Smooth-fleshed fruits like mangoes, papayas, bananas, ripe peaches and nectarines blend more easily to a silky finish than do fresh berries. Tender, baby greens such as spinach, kale or chard virtually disappear within a smoothie; if using mature, rather than baby greens, cut out the stems unless the blender is extremely powerful.

Blending enough ingredients for two smoothies can yield a leftover serving to store in a reusable glass canning jar in the refrigerator. To reactivate the full taste later, just turn over the jar and give it a good shake to re-blend the ingredients.

Spirulina (made from a micro-saltwater plant) and wheatgrass juice and powder are a few popular smoothie add-ins. Milled flax seeds add healthy fat, but their water-soluble fiber also adds a little bulk; although the texture difference isn’t noticeable if the smoothie is enjoyed right away, it will be apparent if it sits for 20 minutes or more.

With the whir of a blender—and no cooking—summer’s tastiest bounty transforms into at-home or on-the-go beverages to revive, replenish and renew us so we’re ready for our next adventure.

Judith Fertig blogs at AlfrescoFoodAndLifestyle.blogspot.com from Overland Park, KS.

Sunny-Day Sippers

 

CE_0714_MangoLassiMango Lassi

Yields 2 servings

¾ cup vanilla soy, almond or coconut milk
¼ cup vanilla soy, almond or coconut milk yogurt
¾ tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups chopped fresh mango, frozen
½ tsp ground cardamom
Agave nectar (to taste)
Ground pistachios (for garnish)

Combine the milk, yogurt, vanilla extract, mango and cardamom and blend using low to high speeds until smooth. Add agave nectar to taste and blend again. Sprinkle ground pistachios over each serving.

CE_0714_BlackCherryRaspberrySmoothieBlack Cherry Raspberry

Yields 2 servings

¼ cup cranberry juice
1 cup pitted sweet black cherries
½ cup raspberries
⅓ cup plain soy or coconut yogurt
4 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients and blend from low to high speed until smooth.

CE_0714_PeachyWatermelonSmoothiePeachy Watermelon

Yields 2 servings

2-3 cups watermelon, seeded
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 fresh peach, peeled, pitted, cut into chunks and frozen

Combine all ingredients and blend from low to high speed until smooth.

Seasonal Suppers

 

CE_0714_TomatoSmoothieTomato Smoothie

Yields 2 servings

2 cups tomatoes, chopped
½ cup tomato juice
¼ cup apple juice
½ cup carrots
¼ cup celery, chopped
Tabasco, or other hot sauce (to taste)
2 cups ice

Combine all ingredients and blend from low to high speed until smooth.

CE_0714_SummerSaladSmoothieSummer Salad Smoothie

Yields 2 servings

½ cup apple juice
2 cups stemmed and chopped baby spinach, Swiss chard or kale
1 apple, unpeeled, cored and chopped
½ avocado, peeled and chopped
½ cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp matcha (fine green tea powder)
1 Tbsp milled flax seeds
¼ cup vegan protein powder

Combine all ingredients and blend from low to high speed until smooth.

CE_0714_CucumberSmoothieCool as a Cucumber Smoothie

Yields 2 servings

1 cup apple juice
1 cup sliced sweet apple
¼ cup applesauce
½ cup sliced carrots
½ cup cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 cups ice
Dash of nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

Combine all ingredients and blend from low to high speed until smooth.

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