Confession: I think I’ve gone smoothie-crazy. I got a single-serve blender a few weeks ago and have been making fresh-fruit smoothies once—fine, twice—a day ever since. I’d worry my smoothie habit was getting out of control, but these things are awfully healthy, not to mention filling and delicious.
What I like best is that you can add almost anything to them—even vegetables—and they still turn out tasty. Plus, smoothies are pretty hard to screw up: I eyeball everything, rather than sticking to strict measurements. Adding some protein powder, milk, or yogurt is a good way to keep you feeling full for hours. And it turns out smoothies are a good way to satisfy a sweet tooth.
While I’ve stuck with pretty traditional mixes so far (blueberry and raspberry, mango and orange juice), you can get pretty creative. A friend of mine makes what she calls an apple-cobbler smoothie, which consists of 1⁄3 cup raw oatmeal, a scoop of vanilla protein powder, 1⁄3 cup chunky apple sauce, ½ banana, ½ cup vanilla soy milk, a dash of vanilla, a few shakes of cinnamon, and a handful of spinach. She swears by the recipe.
Last week I asked several nutritionists for their favorite smoothie recipes. Know what I learned? They’re just as obsessed as me. Below are their favorite concoctions. You can make them all by blending until smooth (duh), unless otherwise noted. A tip: If you use frozen fruit, you don’t need to add ice.
Thomas Sherman, an associate professor of physiology at Georgetown University Medical Center, likes smoothies that remind him of desserts. He writes, “Although there are few drinks or desserts more satisfying than a chocolate-malt milk shake, the vanilla smoothie version proves perfectly satisfying. Malted-milk powder can be difficult to find—I buy it here—but Whoppers malted-milk balls can be used instead, although they make for a much sweeter smoothie. If planning ahead, I find that soy-milk ice cubes make for a better, smoother smoothie. The Pineapple Upside-Down smoothie satisfies the cravings for a pineapple upside-down cake recipe I have. If planning ahead, pineapple ice cubes work fantastic.”
• Malted Vanilla smoothie: 1 cup soy, almond, or skim milk, or soy-milk ice cubes; ½ cup Greek yogurt; 1 tablespoon malted-milk powder; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; ½ cup ice (optional).
• Pineapple Upside-Down smoothie: 1 cup pineapple, cut into ½ inch pieces and divided (frozen, if desired); 1 cup soy, almond, or skim milk; 1⁄4 cup pineapple juice (if a sweeter smoothie is desired); ½ cup Greek yogurt; 1 banana, sectioned (frozen, if desired); 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom; 1⁄2 cup ice (optional). To make: Combine frozen sections of banana and 3⁄4 cup of the pineapple pieces, yogurt, pineapple juice, milk of choice, and cardamom in a blender along with ice cubes (if using), and blend until smooth. Pour over 1⁄4 cup pineapple pieces in tall glass. “The smoothie-soaked pineapple provides a satisfying finish to the sweet smoothie,” says Sherman.
Kathy Kendall, a registered dietician who specializes in food allergies, makes hypoallergenic shakes using an alternative protein powder called Spiru-tein, which is made from pea, soy, and rice protein rather than whey. She makes a shake using one scoop of Spiru-tein, a few ice cubes, a ripe banana, a few strawberries, and ½ cup of plain or fruit-flavored yogurt. “It makes a nice healthy snack or meal replacement,” she says. Plus, it’s low-allergenic and has no added sugars.
Kait Fortunato, a nutritionist with an interest in sports nutrition and nutrition for teens, has some seriously creative favorites:
• Peanut Butter and Jelly smoothie: 1 cup milk; 1 cup frozen strawberries; 2 tablespoons peanut flour. The milk and flour provide lots of protein, and the strawberries have vitamin C and antioxidants.
• Tropical Breakfast smoothie: ½ cup orange juice; 1 cup frozen strawberries; 1 cup frozen pineapple; 1 cup frozen mango; 1½ cup milk. Pineapple lends a good dose of calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C, and mangoes have potassium and fiber.
• Chocolate-Banana Green Monster: 1 cup milk; 2 cups fresh spinach; 1 frozen banana; a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder; a few ice cubes; a scoop of Amazing Grass wheat grass. You can’t underestimate the power of spinach: The two cups in this recipe will give you more than a day’s supply of vitamins A and K plus lots of folate and iron.
DC dietician Faye Mitchell likes to make smoothies as an afternoon snack for her kids. “It is a healthy snack and boosts their daily fruit intake,” she says. Her favorite concoction: 1 banana, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup milk, and ½ cup fat-free vanilla yogurt. Add more banana or a little honey if you like it sweeter, she says.
Danielle Omar, a dietician in Fairfax, loves a nutty smoothie she dubbed Almond Butter Cup. “High in protein and healthy fat with just a hint of natural sugar, it’s the perfect breakfast combination,” she says. To make: blend 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, 1 scoop vanilla-whey protein, 1 small frozen banana, 6 to 8 ounces unsweetened almond milk, and a few ice cubes. A few of Omar’s other favorites:
• Coco-Berry smoothie: 1 cup frozen pineapple; 1 cup frozen blueberries; ¾ cup reduced-fat coconut milk; 1⁄4 cup sweetened shredded coconut; a few ice cubes. Omar recommends serving it in a chilled glass.
• Minty Avocado smoothie: ½ an avocado; 6 to 8 ounces unsweetened almond milk; 1⁄4 cup fresh mint; stevia or agave to taste; a few ice cubes. Drink this as an afternoon snack, Omar says.
“Kale is one of my absolute favorite foods,” says Cheryl Harris, an Alexandria dietician who specializes in gluten-free diets.
Not surprisingly, both of her favorite smoothies make use of the leafy green, which is high in vitamins A, C, and K, and contains a good amount of fiber. Also of note: Both of her favorites are super colorful.
• Brilliantly Beet smoothie: 1 medium beet, baked until soft, peeled and cut in chunks; 1 cup mixed fresh or frozen berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries; 3 large or 4 medium kale leaves; ½ medium cucumber, peeled and cut in chunks; juice of ½ lime; 1 scoop of plain or vanilla protein powder; 1 cup plain or vanilla rice milk; 5 to 10 drops (or 1 packet dry) stevia.
• Kale-Cranberry smoothie: 2 cups chopped kale; 1 cup frozen cranberries; 1 chopped apple; 2 cups water.