Smoothies for a Healthier Life

All that is needed for entry into the world of smoothies is a good blender and any food that can be pureed. Whether the smoothie is to become a tasty, chilled drink or is to be converted into a delicious savory sauce or soup, the concept is the same.

The Blenders

The bullet blender is the best option. These relatively inexpensive, and powerful, devices can puree and mix partially thawed frozen fruit, canned fruit, and cooked or fresh vegetables in no time. They generally come with a set of jars that convert into glasses when the lid is changed out. Cleanup is a snap, since the blade sets just pop out for a quick wash and rinse. Do use a clean dish washing brush to get into the nooks and crannies of the blade set.

A regular blender is fine as long as it is certified for crushing ice. With a collection of wide mouth jars, or glasses with lids, one smoothie making session can provide several smoothies that can be kept in the freezer.

Do read the instruction manuals carefully and know what can and cannot be done with regular and bullet blenders.

The Fruit Smoothie

These tasty, chilled drinks are generally made of pureed fruit, with just enough juice to allow the contents of a glass to flow. The more powerful blenders and bullet blenders that can crush ice can also crush and puree partially thawed frozen fruit. And perfectly ripened frozen fruit is easy to find year around at the grocery. This allows for a slushy, icy concoction that is practically all fruit.

For an added punch of fiber, protein and other nutrients, the fruit smoothie can be supplemented with vanilla protein powder, liquid food supplements like Ensure, fiber supplements like Benefiber or wheat germ.

Now for the good news about sweetening a pureed fruit smoothie when the fruit is not naturally ripened. Simply replace one third of the fresh or frozen fruit with canned fruit and a little of the syrup.That will add a touch of sweetness without going overboard. For artificial sweetener, it is best to experiment carefully in order to avoid a sweetener aftertaste that would ruin the perfectly good drink. A dollop of honey, sugar free jelly or jam, or even frozen fruit juice concentrate will take care of fruit that is not very sweet on its own.

Richness can easily be added to fruit smoothies, especially when the children, or people on special diets, need to have more than just pureed fruit and juice. At the low fat end of the spectrum, there is fat free milk, almond milk, soy milk and even tofu.In the middle of the richness spectrum is whole milk, low fat cream cheese, cottage cheese, non dairy creamer and, of course, a vast array of plain and flavored yogurts.

At the higher fat end of the scale is sweetened condensed milk, peanut or other nut butters, Nutella, cream, ice cream, sherbet, whole milk, coconut milk, cream cheese, and ricotta cheese.

The recipes and combinations are fairly simple. For a tropical flair, try a mix of any of these fruits and juices: pineapple, mango, papaya, strawberry, coconut and mandarin orange.  For a summery delight, peaches and apricots, plus a little citrus make a good drink.

Savory Smoothies

These are actually purees of vegetables that can become a hearty soup or a sneaky addition to a fruit smoothie. Once pureed, vegetable smoothies can be tucked away into highly flavored spaghetti sauces, soups, stews, casseroles and even fruit smoothies to get more nutrition into picky eaters.

Any vegetable or cooked bean that can be pureed can be mixed with chicken, beef or vegetable stock and a bit of milk or cream to make a cream soup.

Many super food vegetables have a neutral taste that hide out very well in fruit or savory smoothies. Try adding mashed cooked yams, avocado, tomato, pumpkin, seeded cooked squash, or dried beans that have been cooked without seasonings. A quarter cup of these purees can go into savory or sweet smoothies to add a blast of nutrition.

Yellow, orange and red bell peppers have a secret: they do not have the strong bell pepper taste and they can actually be sweet! Grind them up, one color at a time, and add ribbons of color and nutrition to just about anything.

Savory smoothies are also perfect for thickening and enriching soups, sauces, gravies and stews. Bakers can experiment by adding some smoothie puree to batters and dough.

The best way to get the most out of smoothies is to find out about super fruits and super vegetables, then experiment with the combinations, textures and flavors. Finally, try some alternatives to sugar, salt and fat in order to add fullness and richness to smoothies that will become a tasty and healthy new way to enjoy food.