Fruit smoothies give you a light and nutritious start to your day, can help replenish nutrients lost through sweaty workouts, and are a quick and healthy after-school snack. There is no special trick to making delicious fruit smoothies, but they all start with three main components: a liquid, fruit and a thickener. It may take some practice to find your personal favorite flavor profile, but trying new combinations is part of the fun. Don't be afraid to experiment.
Almost any liquid will work in a smoothie, though some taste better than others. Water is the simplest, though it can dilute the flavor. Fruit juices also work, though it's best to avoid those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, as this can add calories as well as making your smoothie too sweet. Dairy milk, soy milk, nut milks and coconut milk all add creaminess while helping to balance the sweetness of the fruit. You can also use freshly brewed, unsweetened coffee or tea, though it is a bit harder to find fruits that complement them.
Start with about 2 cups of liquid per serving. It's best to drink smoothies immediately, because the nutrients begin to degrade after only 15 minutes; if you use bananas, the smoothies can turn an unappetizing color after a few hours. Add the liquid of your choice to the blender first, to help the blades move freely when you add the fruit.
Any fruit can be added to a smoothie, but the most popular are berries, bananas and apples. Wash all of your fruit thoroughly, and then cut it into small pieces. This makes it easier for the blender to handle them. It's not necessary to peel apples, peaches, plums, pears and the like, but if you have issues with texture it's a good idea. Put your fruit into the liquid-filled blender all at once.
While you can make fruit smoothies with one fruit, some combinations offer an extra burst of flavor. Mixed berries, bananas and mangoes create a refreshing tropical taste that's not too sweet. Pineapple and Granny Smith apples add a touch of tartness, as do the aptly named tart cherries. Start with equal amounts of liquid and fruit, and then adjust the proportions to your individual taste. More liquid means a thinner smoothie, while more fruit will produce a thicker one.
Using just a liquid and fruit makes a perfectly acceptable drink, but thickening your smoothie can cut the sweetness, add some healthy fat to help slow down your absorption of the fruit sugars and also provide a luscious, milkshake-like texture. Yogurt, Greek yogurt, soy or coconut yogurt, and nut butters all make excellent thickeners while adding protein. Start with 1/4 cup, and add more if you like a thicker smoothie. Ice cream also works, but adds a lot of calories. One of the simplest and healthiest ways to thicken smoothies is to use frozen fruit. Berries of all kinds freeze beautifully, and can be found in the freezer section of your local supermarket, along with mangoes and pineapples. Frozen bananas add a rich and creamy flavor while also thickening your drink.
Fruits and vegetables can be tricky to mix effectively, but both kale and spinach go well with bananas and apples. Protein powder, chia seeds, flax seeds, chlorella and spirulina all add protein. Don't forget seasonings. Cinnamon, vanilla, honey and nutmeg add a little extra depth, while a smoothie made from soy milk, mangoes, bananas, yogurt and a pinch of cayenne pepper will certainly kick-start your day.
Run your smoothie through a fine-mesh strainer to remove fruit peel fragments and berry seeds if you prefer a smoother texture.
Toss watermelon or mango in your blender with ice cubes and a healthy splash or two of coconut rum for a refreshingly grown-up fruit drink.