A funny thing happens when temperatures start to rise: ice cream and popsicles transform from dessert to completely logical choices for main meals. Since that’s not the most nutritious way to beat the heat, there’s an excellent alternative. Enter (drumroll please): the smoothie. This may seem like an elementary idea. But simply sticking fruit in a blender is not what we’re talking about. You can craft an epic chilled treat that has an ice cream-like consistency and even tackle food waste at the same time.The key is to get creative!
1. Add Frozen Veggies
Who says smoothies are just for fruit? The beauty of a smoothie is you can hide pretty much anything in them. Instead of using ice to thicken up your concoction, opt for a frozen veggie. Chances are your fruit or berry of choice will overpower any odd vegetable taste. Purchase frozen options like cauliflower, squash, or beets, or chuck leftover vegetables in the freezer. By adding bulk with vegetables, you’ll also increase your fiber, vitamin and mineral intake – always a win! Sneaking vegetables in your smoothies is a great way to add phytonutrients to your diet, and will make your frosty treat more colorful. Purple cabbage goes great with blackberries. Carrots pair surprisingly well with pineapple. Zucchini lays low and lets strawberries act as a smoothie star. Playing around in the kitchen never tasted so good.
2. Mix Up Your Milk
Smoothies can turn into blood-sugar bombs all too quickly. Steer clear of recipes that call for apple juice as the liquid. Since your fruit of choice will naturally sweeten up your smoothie, feel free to explore unflavored liquids that won’t cause a sugar crash. If you have enough motivation to make your own nut milk, go for it! If you’re less inclined, try out different unflavored options from your local market: almond, cashew, coconut, hemp seed, oat, even milk from peas(!) are just a few awesome alternatives you may find on the shelves. With that said, milk isn’t your only option. If you love your morning cup of coffee, try adding a splash of cold brew to a banana-forward smoothie. Green tea or matcha would add an interesting twist of flavor to a mango or pineapple version. Adding coconut water would serve as a refreshing, electrolyte-filled post-workout treat: perfect for summer!
3. Stack Efficiently
Adding ingredients to a blender doesn’t sound complicated. So why do you keep ending up with chunks of spinach stuck in the blender? (Nothing smooth about that – yuck.) The trick to getting a thick and creamy consistency is all about how you stack. Greens should be the closest thing to your blender blade. The heavy stuff – your frozen goodies – should be added first, and leafy greens like spinach or kale should be added last. Once your fruit, veggies, and other fun additions are loaded up, fill up half the cup with your liquid of choice. This will ensure you get a super-thick smoothie. (Plus you can always add more liquid if needed.) Flip upside down and you’re ready to blend! This trick is so simple, but effective.