Food & Drink

Tips and recipes for mastering the best summer smoothies

A refreshing mixed berry smoothie made by Annie Foreman, blogger of Real Housewife of Fresno.
A refreshing mixed berry smoothie made by Annie Foreman, blogger of Real Housewife of Fresno. Fresno Bee/TNS

With temperatures sizzling, it’s time to break out the blender and start whipping up some frosty, fruity and flavorful smoothies.

The beauty of smoothies is that you can add just about anything to them, from kiwi to carrots. And this time of year, there is no shortage of options.

Great things to add are seasonal fruits like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, figs, apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines. Others like to blend veggies into the mix, such as spinach, kale, squash or carrots.

Nutritionists say smoothies are a great way to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption, but they say to be careful not to add too many extra calories. Ice cream and fruit juices with added sugars should be avoided.

“That is a milkshake,” says Kim Tirapelle, a registered dietitian at Kaiser Permanente Fresno.

Lifestyle blogger Annie Foreman of Fresno, Calif., has upped her smoothie game by prepping her ingredients and freezing them. When she or her family want something refreshing to drink, all she has to do is pull a prepped plastic bag out of the freezer, blend it with a liquid and pour.

“It takes about five minutes, tops,” says Foreman, author of “And with all the fruit available, you can create lots of different types of smoothies.”

While fresh fruit is great when it’s in season, don’t be shy about using frozen fruits or vegetables. Foreman is fond of buying a bag of frozen mixed berries and a large package of spinach.

She also recommends using overripe fruit that may be too squishy to eat but works fine in a blender for a smoothie.

“I hate throwing away food, and this is a good way to reduce food waste,” she says.

As her liquid base, Foreman uses almond milk or plain yogurt.

Tirapelle agrees that one good way to lower the drink’s calorie content is to look for alternatives to whole milk or fruit juice. She says coconut water and skim milk are also good options, as are water or ice. And for added thickness you can even try a scoop of avocado.

Tirapelle says flax seeds and chia seeds are also a good source of protein and fiber, if you want something more than just a snack.

Some new yogurt brands, like Siggi’s Icelandic-style yogurt, are loaded with protein, have less sugar and can make a good base for your smoothie.

Tara Hamilton, former owner of the restaurant Organic Fresno, has been making healthy smoothies for years. She tells parents to go easy on the greens because the taste can easily overpower the drink.

Hamilton says not to add more than two handfuls of greens and make sure to strip the greens off the stalk to make them easier to digest. She generally uses about a cup of fruit in her recipes and she likes to freeze her fruit before adding it to the blender.

“I like it that way because it makes it nice and slushy,” she says. “And that’s perfect during the summer.”

Freezer prep smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 4 large frozen strawberries
  •  3/4 cup frozen blueberries and raspberries
  •  1/4 sliced banana
  •  3/4 to 1 cup of almond milk or plain yogurt

1. To assemble, put spinach and fruit in a zip-close freezer bag and freeze.

2. To make smoothie, add liquid base (almond milk or yogurt) to the contents of freezer bag in the blender and blend until smooth. Add protein powder, if you like.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 78 calories, 2 grams fat, 13 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, no cholesterol, 158 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 25 percent of calories from fat.

Annie Foreman,

Green smoothie

Serves 2

  • 2 cups kale
  • 3-4 sprigs mint
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (can substitute coconut water or soy milk)
  •  1/2 fennel bulb
  •  1/2 cucumber
  • 2 apples
  • 1 banana

1. Blend the kale and mint with the liquid base of your choosing. Then add fennel and cucumber; blend well.

2. Add apples and banana — blend well and add more banana if additional sweetness is needed. Pour into a glass and serve.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 199 calories, 2 grams fat, 48 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 62 milligrams sodium, 9 grams dietary fiber, 6 percent of calories from fat.

Stephanie Vucovich Cholakian

Peach pie smoothie

Serves 1

  • 4 ounces plain cultured yogurt
  • 2 ounces water
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  •  1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1  1/2 cups frozen peaches

Combine yogurt, water, chia seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon and honey in a blender until well-mixed. Add frozen fruit and blend to desired consistency. Pour into glass.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 440 calories, 3 grams fat, 46 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 90 milligrams sodium, 10 grams dietary fiber, 6 percent of calories from fat.

Tara Hamilton

Mixed-berry smoothie with beets

Serves 1

  • 1 cup mixed frozen berries or blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  1/2 tablespoon walnuts
  •  1/3 cup diced beet (raw, canned or roasted)
  • Handful fresh spinach or 1-2 tablespoons frozen spinach
  •  1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt or low-fat coconut milk
  • 1 frozen banana or 1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend for 1 minute. Pour into a glass.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 353 calories, 9 grams fat, 65 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 106 milligrams sodium, 10 grams dietary fiber, 22 percent of calories from fat.

Dr. Kim Newell, Kaiser Permanente

San Francisco Medical Center