In Part 1 of our series on healthy smoothies, we mentioned the main ingredients in making smoothies – namely fruit or veggies and liquid. But there are lots of other goodies to make our healthy drinks more fun so let's talk about those now.
A Healthy Smoothie Welcomes Yogurt
If you add yogurt to a smoothie it will be thicker. Yogurt is creamy and we have the option of soy and coconut milk yogurts which taste great in any smoothie. A fruit smoothie will be richer for ½ cup or so of vanilla or other fruit yogurts. My daughter loves peach yogurt in anything and everything. Don't forget, though, that yogurt has a tiny bit of sour taste to it so make sure there is enough fruit, or healthy sweetener like stevia, to balance out the sourness.
A Tofu Smoothie? Really?
Some folks love tofu in smoothies. Tofu is made of soy and I despise it so I've never used it in anything. But if the idea appeals to you, experiment. Just know that there are two kinds of tofu:
Regular or firm
Silken or soft
Naturally, the silken kind is better for this purpose since it's very soft and most likely to blend into your drink.
For An Interesting Smoothie Drink
Try Milk That Doesn't Come From Cows
Some people are lactose intolerant and some either don't care for cows milk or don't want to use animal products. If this is you, consider other kinds of milk. My absolute favorite is almond milk which has become so popular that it's sold in regular grocery stores.
You can make your own by mixing four parts of water to one part of almonds. Mix them in a blender and liquify as much as possible, then strain the milk, leaving out the almond bits (you can use these little pieces in salads or desserts). The milk is richer and healthier if you let your almonds soak overnight. Soaking releases enzymes. A note about making your own milk: I think the store-bought milk tastes better.
There are milks made from other nuts and even milks made from grains or beans.
Smoothie Drinks Made From Beans?
Are You Kidding Me?
No, I'm not kidding because beans are loaded with protein and fiber. Obviously, you want beans with a very mild taste so it won't overpower other ingredients. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) have little taste and I like them very much. I love both lentils and kidney beans which are good, although I think the kidney beans are a bit strong. But try out others and see what you like.
To get the most nutrition, use dried beans, not canned. Soak them in water overnight or boil vigorously for five minutes and then simmer in fresh water for a couple of hours, until they're nice and tender. Add about ½ cup to your smoothie. You can freeze them in small portion – like in an ice cube tray – and then toss them into your smoothies to make them colder. Yum.
Healthy Smoothie Recipes With Nuts?
Am I nuts? Nope, nuts are great in a smoothie drink because they taste good and add protein. It's healthier to use raw nuts and softer ones are easier to blend, unless you don't mind little 'pieces' in your drink – I certainly don't. It's obvious that a pecan is easier to blend than a cashew.
And to boost the nutrition even more, soak your nuts in pure water for an hour or two. This will also soften them and make them easier to use.
Add Fiber Whenever Possible
For my health, I grind up a Tablespoon of flaxseeds every day and they go well in a smoothie – nutrition in a glass and you don't even notice them. There are other fibrous goodies like dried ground sprouts that I buy at Whole Foods or yummy wheat germ.
One important point about grinding flax and other seeds: the oil breaks down quickly. Buying already-ground flaxseed is pretty much a waste because the good stuff is long gone. I grind my own seeds with a coffee grinder that I bought at Walmart for under $10. It's simple to do.
Making Your Healthy Fruit Smoothies Sweet
There are two sweeteners that can be used without damaging your health. One is stevia which I use every day and have written about multiple times on this blog. The other is agave nectar which is all natural and low on the glycemic table. The good news is that is used to be hard to get either of these … but not anymore. My local grocery has both and with the stevia I even have a choice of brands.
It's obvious that smoothies aren't just some sweet treat, loaded with empty calories and sugar. Of course, they can be made that way but they can also be a full meal in themselves. If you don't want to eat your fruits and veggies, drink them instead by adding at least one healthy smoothie every single day – more if you want. In part three of our series on smoothies, we'll talk about some healthy smoothie recipes.
Part 1 on smoothies :: Part 3 on smoothies