How to make the perfect smoothie

Spring is around the corner and it would be a shame not to make the most of the abundance of fresh produce that comes with it. There are endless ways to make use of nature’s generous gifts, but not all of them are equally tasty and healthy. Here are some tips to help you pick the right ingredients and navigate your way to a great smoothie.

1.      Buy fresh and local. In this age of fast global transport, it can be tempting to go for exotic fruits in your supermarket. However, it’s better for the planet and for your health (as well as wallet) to choose local produce. Pick fruits and vegetables that are in season and come from nearby farms, if possible. Long distance travel depletes the nutrients and vitamins in the produce. Otherwise, it’s better to buy frozen rather than fresh fruits and vegetables, which have traveled long distances, since they are frozen very soon after picking thus retaining most of the nutrients.

2.      Pick the right base. When making a smoothie, it’s easy to overdo it on the sugary fruit, which raises our insulin levels. Use half of a frozen banana and a handful of berries for an antioxidant boost. With the right base with the right blender, this should give you a great creamy consistency. If you’re trying to lower the sugar load, swap the banana for a few florets of cauliflower. And don’t worry; with the berries in the mix, you won’t taste it at all!
3.      Toss in some greens. Another way to up your antioxidant intake is to add dark leafy greens to your smoothie. They will balance out the sugar from the fruit and get you halfway to your recommended daily intake of vegetables. Use a handful or two of spinach or kale and throw in some cucumber to add volume to your smoothie.

4.      Pick a healthy fat. Fat helps your body absorb the vitamins from fruits and vegetables, and keeps you satiated longer. Include two tablespoon of nuts (walnuts, almonds, nut butter) and seeds (chia, flax, hemp) or use a few slices of ripe avocado for extra creaminess. Coconut milk and coconut water are a delicious way to get the desired consistency. Add the liquid little by little between blending.

5.      Add some protein. Another important nutrient that keeps you full and prevents snacking later in the day is protein. Proteins keep your blood sugar low and stabilize your energy levels throughout the day. Full fat plain Greek yogurt is a good choice, as is cottage cheese or silken tofu for a vegan option. If you’re having your smoothie after a workout, you can add your protein powder for an extra boost of protein.

6.      Add toppings and enjoy. Sprinkle some cinnamon or vanilla extract on your smoothie; this will bring out the natural sweetness without added sugar. For an extra crunch, top with coconut flakes or homemade granola, and if you want to double down on the creaminess, add half a tablespoon of almond butter. Depending on the consistency of your smoothie, serve it in a glass or a bowl and enjoy.

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