Fruit and Vegetable Smoothies are a great way to get your fruit and vegetable servings in for the day or when you need extra nutrients. They are quick and easy to make, a powerhouse of nutrition, and can be customized to your needs. Commercial or store-bought smoothies often are high in calories and contain added sugars, fats, and artificial ingredients. Homemade smoothies can be delicious and much healthier, less expensive, and when prepared right can offer many health benefits. The basic ingredients of a smoothie include a liquid base, fruits and vegetables, healthy add-ins, and ice. There are endless ways to make a smoothie. For my green smoothie I chose the following ingredients:
- Oranges and Mangos : are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, beta carotene, and dietary fiber. They help to prevent harmful free radicals, boost the immune system, protect the skin , and slow down aging.
- Baby Spinach: contains chlorophyll, iron, vitamin A, D, E , and K, helping to purify the blood and detoxify the liver. Chlorophyll gives spinach its green color and is important for blood and bone health and cancer prevention. Spinach and other leafy greens contain hyaluronic acid which help in collagen formation to maintain healthy skin and joints.
- Kefir: is a drinkable liquid yogurt that contains many strains of probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria which help to keep our digestive system healthy and prevent illness. Kefir is also a good source of calcium and protein and is well tolerated for those who may be lactose intolerant.
- Bananas: are high in potassium, vitamin B6 and C, and fiber. Bananas are healthy for the heart and help to maintain good blood pressure. Banana fiber contains prebiotics which support the growth of good bacteria in our digestive system .
- Flaxseed: Ground flaxseed is high in omega 3 fatty acids and fiber. Ground flaxseed supports heart health, prevents inflammation, and improves the absorption of Vitamin A, D, E, and K.
- Ginger: is an ancient spice known for its many health benefits. Ginger helps with digestion, boosts our immune system, and is also anti-inflammatory. Ginger may help to relieve exercise induced muscle pain, osteoarthritis, and lower fasting blood sugars.
Tips to making the perfect Smoothie
- Choose fresh or frozen produce. Wash fresh produce thoroughly to remove any possible soil, bacteria, and pesticide residue. Produce should be cleaned right before using with a vegetable brush and then rinsed under cold water. Peel produce with non-edible skins.
- Using Frozen Fruit gives your smoothie a creamy texture and helps to decrease the need for additional ice .
- Layer each ingredient starting with the liquid ingredients first. Add leafy greens, proteins, fruits, and healthy add-ins. Blend at low speed first and gradually increase the power. The liquid base will help to keep the solids moving to create a smooth consistency without small pieces remaining.
- Choose healthy add-ins. To boost the nutrition of your smoothie add ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, ground flax seed, chia or hemp seed.
- Avoid adding refined sugars. If additional sweetness is desired add a little fruit concentrate, stevia, dates, or maple syrup to taste.
Orange and Mango Green Smoothie
- 1 cup baby spinach trimmed
- 1 medium orange peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 cup frozen mango cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1/2 medium banana sliced and frozen
- 1 cup orange cream Kefir low fat smoothie sweetened with stevia
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
- 1/2 cup ice
Layer ingredients in order in your smoothie maker or blender. Blend at low speed first to incorporate ingredients. Gradually increase speed and blend to a smooth consistency.
It is best to drink your smoothie right away. You can keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Freeze your smoothie in small containers or in ice cube trays to enjoy at a later time.