- Understanding the Health Benefits of Fruits in Smoothies
- Mixing and Matching: Tips for Combining Fruits for the Best Flavors
- The Role of Liquid in Smoothies: Best Juices to Pair with Your Fruits
- Adding Extra Nutrients: Greens, Seeds, and Protein Powders
- Storing Tips: How to Freeze Fruits for Longer Shelf Life and Chill Factor
Fruit smoothies are an excellent way to consume myriad nutrients in a tasty and refreshing drink. Smoothies may be especially important for kids and picky eaters because, with smoothies, you can disguise greens, fiber, and healthy fats with sweet fruits.
Understanding the Health Benefits of Fruits in Smoothies
Smoothies aren’t just for breakfast! They can be made up anytime for a snack on a hot day or after a workout. Fruit is a prime source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. The recommended serving of fruits per day is 1.5 to 2 cups. Therefore, one or two cups (or handfuls) of fruit is a good reference point for your smoothies.
For most smoothie recipes, you can follow the exact ingredients, but from my experience, it’s just as easy to eyeball it, taste test, and adjust ingredients as needed.
The Role of Bananas: Creaminess and Natural Sweetness
Bananas may be one of the best fruits for smoothies and for good reason. Bananas have a mild but sweet flavor and create a creamy smoothie consistency.
With bananas, the riper they are, the sweeter they are. So if you’re a smoothie drinker, you should never have bananas go to waste! Even if they are brown in spots, no one will notice once blended with the other ingredients.
Bananas are a good source of carbohydrates, so they can be a great pre or post-workout snack. Bananas are also quite filling due to their soluble fiber content. Additionally, they also are high in potassium and magnesium.
Berries: A Powerhouse of Antioxidants
Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries) are delicious little bursts of sweet and tart goodness that also happen to be filled with free-radical fighting antioxidants.
Berries contain many nutrients but are the most well-known for their antioxidant properties and fiber content; they rank the highest for antioxidant content, just behind pomegranate.
Mangoes: A Tropical Touch with Digestive Benefits
Mangoes are delicious tropical fruits that can be blended with various flavors and still taste magnificent. Like with many tropical fruits, the only downside is that they are higher in sugar than other fruits. Most experts will say that it’s good to be aware of the sugar in fruits, but for the most part, the other benefits outweigh the natural sugar content.
On the other hand, mango is a prime vitamin C source and contains an enzyme called amylase which may aid digestion.
While they can be tricky to prep, it’s not bad once you get the hang of it. They are so delicious and versatile that the result is worth it.
Avocados: A Smoothie Game-Changer for Healthy Fats and Texture
Avocados are not just for toast! If you’ve never tried blending avocado in your smoothies, I suggest you try it.
Avocado doesn’t actually have a very strong taste; its creamy texture and surplus of health benefits are what everyone raves about. However, Avacados blend well with most things, and the taste will be masked by any other ingredients you choose.
A perfect avocado for smoothies should look darker in color (not bright green) and feel soft, but not too soft like you could squish it. This mainly just makes it easier to peel and slice down the line.
It can be difficult to get adequate amounts of healthy fats for someone who isn’t a fatty fish fan. Avocado helps to solve this problem by being a go-to source of omega-3 fatty acids for many. Avocados also have a lot of fiber and potassium, which is important because many Americans do not get enough fiber or potassium in their diet.
Pineapples: Digestive Enzymes and a Sweet, Tangy Twist
Pineapple juice is a stand-out flavor that can easily mask greens and other vegetable additives for picky eaters (or drinkers). In addition, pineapples contain high amounts of vitamin C and enzymes that may assist digestion.
Pineapples are one of the more popular fruits to add to smoothies, if not the most popular.
Check out this recipe for a great pineapple smoothie.
Peaches: A Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Peaches are considered stone fruits due to the hard pitt surrounded by juicy flesh in the center. They contain vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.
When buying peaches, ensure they are a good level of ripe by choosing the ones that aren’t too soft or brown but also not too firm.
Kiwi: A Boost of Vitamin C and Fiber
Kiwi is a sweet and juicy fruit known for its high fiber and water content, making it good for digestive purposes. Kiwi also contains vitamins E and C and antioxidants (carotenoids).
You can eat and/or blend the skin on kiwis, but everyone’s preference is different. Just make sure you wash it first.
Papaya: A Digestive Aid and Immune Booster
Papaya is a tropical fruit that may be difficult to come by in certain parts of the country. Papaya is a large fruit with orange and green skin and orange or yellow flesh when ripe.
Papaya is full of vitamins C, A and antioxidants (carotenoids).
Cherries: Reducing Inflammation and Promoting Better Sleep
Cherries are a tart but sweet addition to smoothies; remember, they will need pitting beforehand.
Cherries are loaded with antioxidants (polyphenols in particular) and may aid in exercise recovery and sleep quality, amongst other health benefits.
Mixing and Matching: Tips for Combining Fruits for the Best Flavors
Feel free to get creative with your smoothie recipes; there is no wrong way to do it, though some combinations may be more tried and tested.
Bananas can be the base for pretty much any type of smoothie. My personal favorite banana-centered recipes are peanut butter banana and the classic strawberry banana.
Tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and papaya go nicely with citrus juices, coconut milk, banana, and other tropical fruits. Fruits with a high flavor profile, like pineapple and mango, are great for masking the taste of greens or vegetables.
Berries (blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry)
Berries pair well with vanilla, citrus, mint, greens, and other berries. Strawberry basil or blueberry lemon are two tasty and unique smoothie combinations.
The kiwi loves being paired with its good friend, strawberry, but it also goes nicely with banana, orange juice, and tropical flavors.
Some flavors that work well with cherries are almonds, chocolate, banana, peaches, and vanilla.
Since peaches do not have a very overpowering flavor, they go well with things that enhance their natural flavors, like vanilla, banana, honey, and cinnamon.
In my opinion, avocado is a bit bland until spices, fruits, and juices are added to it. That also makes it a great base in place of bananas since it is so creamy and healthy.
The Role of Liquid in Smoothies: Best Juices to Pair with Your Fruits
People can underestimate how much liquid is actually needed to properly blend a smoothie, but it also depends on the consistency you prefer. For example, will you drink this smoothie through a straw or eat it with a spoon?
A general smoothie formula is:
- 2-3 parts/cups fruits and/or vegetables
- 1 ½ parts/cups liquid
- ½ part/cup yogurt, milk, or thickener (produce like banana and avocado can cover this)
Frequently used juices for smoothies include apple juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and grapefruit juice. It’s also common to use milk or plant-based milk in smoothies. However, you can always use water if that’s all you have readily available or are trying to keep calories low. Coconut water is another alternative if that’s a flavor you enjoy.
Adding Extra Nutrients: Greens, Seeds, and Protein Powders
There are endless combinations you can create with a blender and a bit of imagination. While the basis of this article is fruit, don’t shy away from adding other foods.
Here are some examples of fruit smoothie additions:
Greens like spinach and kale are full of vitamins and minerals that aren’t necessarily in fruits. Herbs like mint and basil can add that extra layer of flavor to fruit smoothie recipes.
Hemp, flax, and chia seeds are excellent protein and omega-3 fatty acids sources.
Protein helps keep you full and assists in muscle building and maintenance. There is a wide variety of protein powders on the market, including both plant and animal-based options.
Nut butter like peanuts, almonds, and tahini are excellent healthy fats and protein sources and add a delectable creamy texture.
Spices like ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon are full of health benefits and can give your smoothies an extra zing.
If you are drinking smoothies as meal replacements, try and stick to the “fab four” rule, which is to include these four things: protein, fat, fiber, and greens.
Safety Tips: Washing and Preparing Your Fruits for Smoothies
Even fruits with an outer peel should be quickly washed to remove any germs acquired through transport or chemicals. As soon as you slice into a fruit, anything that is hanging out on the outside can penetrate the flesh. On a similar note, using organic produce is preferred, but it is not necessary if that doesn’t align with your budget.
For smoothie purposes, it’s typically best to cut fruit into small chunks before freezing. This makes them both easy to store and blend when you’re ready to use them.
Storing Tips: How to Freeze Fruits for Longer Shelf Life and Chill Factor
I prefer to use frozen produce because I like a nice cold smoothie. However, you can always throw in some ice cubes and cold liquids to chill your smoothie when using fresh fruit. If you use a good quality blender, you should have no issue blending ice. Additionally, freezing fruit to use in smoothies later is a great way to save money and reduce food waste in your kitchen.
I recommend pre-freezing your fruit after slicing it. The prepping process involves placing the prepared fruit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and popping it in the freezer for 2-3 hours. This will prevent it from freezing together into one big mass, but it’s not detrimental if you don’t have time to do this. You may just have to break up the frozen fruit when you use it.
Freezer zip locks are a simple way to store your fruit. You can label the bag with the freeze date, put the fruit in (pre-frozen or not), and attempt to release as much as possible before sealing it up and placing it in the freezer for smoothies. Fruit will last in the freezer for up to three months.
Hopefully, this article inspired you to get in the kitchen, get creative, prep, and blend some amazing fruit smoothie recipes.
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