I’m sure you know that old trick about freezing bananas that have seen better days. You hold onto them until the banana-bread bug bites you bad, and then you embark on a marathon baking session. Well, I’m a devotee of this method—it’s as if the freezer performs some magic to transform fruit that looks too ripe to even touch into an exotic delicacy.
But you know, bread isn’t all those bananas are good for—why not try a smoothie? A frozen banana makes an excellent any-smoothie base because it produces a rich, creamy texture that’s just like ice cream.
LIKE ice cream, but better.
That’s because smoothies are a great way to boost your nutritional intake and still feel like you’re getting away with something. Liquids make more nutrients available than solid food, and are absorbed faster, too. They’re also easier to digest and frequently more appetizing than solid food when you’re rushed, sick, pregnant, or just plain bored.
So grab your blender.
Drop in that banana, add some frozen fruit: flavor-wise, it’s hard to go wrong. Berries, stone fruits, grapes, citrus, and tropical fruit all contribute a tart, punchy kick that’s as intense and colorful as candy.
Now for the veggies.
Yup, that’s right—I said VEGGIES. Smoothies are a great way to use the fresh or frozen vegetables you have on hand. It may sound scary, but don’t run screaming from the blender just yet. Greens may have a big impact on the color of your drink, but they usually contribute a fairly delicate flavor, especially alongside all that sweet fruit. So toss in frozen vegetables like peas, broccoli pieces, or spinach by the handful. Their natural sweetness will make the vitamin boost completely painless.
You can also boost your smoothies by blending in your vitamin supplement, a scoop of wheat germ, a handful of nuts, a smear of nut butter, a chunk of fresh ginger, drizzles of honey or maple syrup, or spoonfuls of milled flaxseed, wheat germ, or ground cinnamon.
Now pour in a little juice, water, or yogurt to help it all liquefy and let ’er rip. Blend everything until smooth, and then taste a bit to see if you need to tweak the flavors or consistency. There are no hard and fast ratios or recipes. Just experiment with what you have and what you know you like.
Still feeling less than confident? Allow me to share a few of my favorite non-recipes:
Ruby Dream: Leftover cooked beets (go easy), frozen strawberries, apple juice, and fresh carrots (Just a note on beets: they, hmmm, walk out the same color as they walked in. So no smoothie-inspired 911 calls, k?)
Good Morning: Frozen banana, frozen peach, fresh ginger, fresh kale, and apple juice
Mid-Afternoon Reward: Frozen banana, peanut butter, frozen peas, honey, and plain yogurt
Up Before the Sun: Frozen strawberries, frozen pineapple concentrate, fresh carrots, orange juice, and a squeeze of lemon
Carrot Cake: Frozen banana, fresh carrots, walnuts, wheat germ, cinnamon, maple syrup, and plain yogurt
Peanut Butter: Frozen banana, peanut butter, frozen corn, vanilla extract, and plain yogurt
Feelin’ a Little Tart: Frozen blueberries, frozen broccoli (go easy), and cranberry juice
Easy Being Green: Frozen banana, frozen peas, frozen broccoli (go easy), and white grape juice
Cherry Pie: Frozen cherries, frozen carrots, unsalted cashews, wheat germ, honey, and almond milk
Antioxidant Punch: Frozen strawberries, fresh spinach, almonds, and pomegranate juice
Case of the Blues: Frozen blueberries, frozen peas, plain yogurt, and maple syrup
Orange You Pretty: Frozen carrots, fresh ginger (go easy), orange juice