Annie Collum, BSN, RN is the RIA Senior Manager, Physician Liaison in Denver, Colorado
July 23, 2019
When it’s too hot to cook, blend your meals.
Summer is here and it is HOT. So hot, you may find yourself at a loss for what to eat and what to cook.
While we’d love to say you could subsist on pints of ice cream until cooler weather arrives, ice cream isn’t exactly the most balanced of meals.
Enter the smoothie.
Cold like our favorite frozen treats, but infinitely customizable to fit whatever your health and palette needs to feel sated, smoothies are an ideal meal in the summer months. So infinite are the options, in fact, it can be overwhelming. Fear not. We’ve got tips and suggestions on how you can make yourself a perfectly filling, and perfectly healthy, frozen meal or snack.
Most of us probably think fruit when we hear “smoothie”, not unreasonably. Fruit is a great source of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, so using it as a base for your smoothie is a great idea.
Certainly stock up on whatever is in season, taking advantage of those bumper crops at the farmer’s market, but frozen fruit won’t go bad and since it’s picked at peak ripeness before being flash frozen, all those nutrients are still in the frozen form. Buying frozen fruit also minimizes prep-time (no washing or chopping!) and will keep your smoothie frosty!
If you’re struggling to get all your daily serving of veggies, consider adding fresh greens, like spinach or kale to your smoothie. To make sure your smoothie doesn’t get too bitter, try this formula: 2 cups leafy greens + 2 cups liquid + 2-3 cups fruit. Blend greens and liquid first, and then add in the fruit.
For liquids, think beyond fruit. Milk alternatives, like almond or oat milk, coconut water or plain old H20 are all you need to get your smoothie blended and drinkable.
If you’re looking for something a little more, try adding a scoop of uncooked quick-cooking oats to your smoothie for another blast of fiber, or low-sugar peanut butter or low-fat greek yogurt for a protein boost to get you through to lunch.
Didn’t snag that VitaMix on Prime Day deals? Don’t stress. As long as you add enough liquid, any ol’ blender can be a smoothie machine. To really streamline production, consider using an immersion blender in your drinking container! Once you’ve got your blender sorted, all you need is something to drink out of, though you may find measuring cups helpful to ensure your recipes are consistent.
Is the idea of chopping and measuring out ingredients off-putting? Skip it. Prepare freezer bags with pre-portioned combos of your favorite fruit and veggies. When you’re ready for your chilly snack, dump the contents into the blender along with your liquid of choice and voila! Faster than waiting in line at your local smoothie stand!
Beware of hidden calories
Smoothies can be a great quick and healthy (healthy meaning low calorie, low fat, high fiber, high antioxidant) meal. But it’s also easy to end up consuming more calories than you want to. The biggest culprits will be liquids: fruit juices have a lot of calories and not a lot of health benefits. Get your fruit flavor from, well, fruit. Dairy can add a lot of fat and calories, as well, so go easy or opt for reduced fat options.
Making the smoothie doesn’t require much explanation, but here’s a tip to ensure even blending: Load the container in the following order: liquids first, then soft fruits or vegetables, greens, and ice on top.
Ready to add smoothies to your summer routine, but not sure what flavor combos to start with? Check out a few recipes below to get started!
1/2 cup each vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup liquid of your choosing (such as milk or juice)
1 cup ice
Dress it up with a teaspoon or two of cinnamon, or tablespoon or two of peanut butter
2 cups spinach or kale
1 cup liquid (try coconut water to keep calories down, but flavor up)
1 cup frozen pineapple
Antioxidant Berry Blast
1 1/2 cups mixed blackberries, strawberries and raspberries
1 cup liquid
1 cup ice
Tip: Use frozen berries and reduce the ice or skip it altogether