Make-it-yourself smoothies are a wildly popular way to work more fruits and veggies into your diet. However, if you chase sweetness and flavor without making sure to include healthy ingredients, you could accidentally veer away from optimal dietary benefits.
Avoid fruit juices containing High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is implicated in the national obesity epidemic. To keep calories in line, add a little extra water or ice, and a little less juice. Other liquid ingredients that boast health benefits:
- Green Tea, rich in anti-oxidants
- Coconut Water, fresh from the shell or in powdered form
- Non-dairy Milk, including soy, almond, and even hemp milk
Sweeten Naturally, Minimize Fat
Don’t settle for artificial sweeteners – choose natural alternatives. Honey has been a part of human diets much longer than refined sugars, and agave is popular with many healthy food fans. Choose reduced-fat and lower-calorie versions of sorbet, yogurt, cottage cheese or sherbet. Summer is prime time for fresh fruits and vegetables, of course, and you can balance calories with other beneficial properties by knowing the nutritional value of the ingredients you choose.
- Kale or spinach, for vitamins and minerals, including healthy polyphenols
- Ground flax seed, for omega–3 fats
- Chia seeds, rich in omega–3 fats and a good source of fiber
Multi-Fruit Smoothie with Kale and Chia Seed
Makes: 3 to 4 Servings
1 1/2 cups washed and drained baby kale, thick stems removed
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (0% fat)
1 to 1 1/2 cups low fat or skim milk (more as desired)
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh fruit – banana, blueberries, mango slices – whatever favorite is on hand
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp honey (more as desired)
- In a blender or food processor, thoroughly blend kale, yogurt, milk and chia seeds. Add fruit and honey and continue blending until completely smooth with no chunks remaining. Add more milk to thin the smoothie if you desire.
- Pour in a glass and garnish with a few more blueberries and (if you wish) a sprig of mint.
- Serve and enjoy!