Smoothies offer big nutrition in a small package. Based on a vegan source of lean protein like coconut milk or yogurt, soy, chia seeds or a vegan protein powder made from dried beans or hemp, they can energize us for a full day of summer activities.
Other ingredients follow the peak of summer crops. Berries, greens, melon, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, celery, carrots and stone fruits like peaches and mangoes add antioxidants, fiber, vita-mins and minerals. A tablespoon or twoof milled flax seeds, hemp or nut butteradds richness to the flavor, while providingomega-3 fatty acids necessary forcomplete nutrition. For the finale, adda touch of sweetness from fruits, maplesyrup, agave nectar or stevia.
The best way to mix a smoothie is to start with either a liquid or an ingredient with a thicker consistency, like yogurt, placed in a standard or high-speed performance blender. Next, add the desired fruits or vegetables and flavorings, followed by ice. Start on a slower speed, holding down the lid tightly, before increasing the speed to achieve a velvety texture. If the smoothie is too thin, add more frozen fruit or ice. Freezing the fruits first and then blending them into a smoothie can substitute for ice. Peeling bananas before freezing them makes smoothie-making easier. Freezing the fruits in recipe-size portions also simplifies the process.
Smooth-fleshed fruits like mangoes, papayas, bananas, ripe peaches and nectarines blend more easily to a silky finish than do fresh berries. Tender, baby greens such as spinach, kale or chard virtually disappear within a smoothie; if using mature, rather than baby greens, cut out the stems unless the blender is extremely powerful.
Blending enough ingredients for two smoothies can yield a leftover serving to store in a reusable glass jar in the refrigerator. To reactivate the full taste later, just turn over the jar and give it a good shake to re-blend the ingredients.
Spirulina (made from a microsaltwaterplant) and wheatgrass juice and powder are some popular smoothie additions. Milled flax seeds add healthy fat, but their water-soluble fiber also adds a little bulk; although the texture difference isn’t noticeable if the smoothie is enjoyed right away, it will be apparent if it sits for 20 minutes or more.
With the whir of a blender—and no cooking—summer’s tastiest bounty transforms into at-home or on-the-go beverages to revive, replenish and renew us so we’re ready for our next adventure.
Judith Fertig blogs at AlfrescoFoodAndLifestyle.blogspot.com from Overland Park, KS.