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    By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD


    I’m a new-found smoothie addict. They’re perfect for the summer – all you really need to invest in is a blender and it feels like having softserve ice cream for breakfast (or lunch/snack or even for dinner). The best part about smoothies, nutritionally speaking: they’re an opportunity to sneak in extra boosters you might not normally go out of your way to eat.

    Before we get to the smoothie basics, let’s hit the no-no’s:  there is really no reason for one to come supersized. Too much of a good thing; you may as well eat the ice cream.  Other smoothie no no’s: ice cream / fro yo, sorbets, sugar or brown sugar, fruit juice (unless it’s green juice), or granola.

    Now that we know the no-no’s you can really do no wrong. Quantities are all estimates as it depends on your ideal texture, but it’s as easy as tossing it all into a blender and smoothie-ing away. So here are the smoothie basics:

    * 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit: Of course fresh is ideal, but in the real world you’re pressed for time and a half a bag of frozen fruit is a lifesaver. The frozen fruit blends give you automatic variety and also replace ice.

    * ½ cup liquid: Almond milk is my personal favorite, but alternatives like coconut or hemp milk, green tea or even plain ol’ water are great too.

    * Protein powder: 2 scoops of an organic whey or hemp powder. Ingredients in protein powders can get lengthy and nasty so be sure to check them out. I love Tera’s Whey and SunWarrior hemp brands.

    * 1-2 tbsp healthy fats: I adore chia; tossing some whole or milled chia in is a great way to up the omega 3 ante. Flax is great too, but it needs to be ground up for the health benefits (or use a tbsp. of the oil). Another option: Avocado! I’ve gotten into adding 1/3 of an avocado to my morning smoothies, it’s a great way to make them creamy.

    Those are the basics, but here are a few ideas for extras to boost your smoothie

    * A few handfuls of leafy greens like spinach or kale add iron and calcium – no one will taste ‘em, I swear

    * A few sprigs of herbs like mint, cilantro, or basil will give your smoothie a little kick

    * A tsp of spices like turmeric or cinnamon or a sliver of ginger will pump your smoothie full of antioxidants and anti inflammatories

    * A splash of almond (or vanilla) extract – my sister recently introduced this to me and it’s now my essential add in!

    * Sweeten things up with a few drops of stevia

    Play around with different ingredients and quantities — you’re bound to end up with something delicious.

    So, are you a smoothie junkie yet or are you just off to buy a blender? What’s your favorite recipe/ingredient?

    Photo: iStockphoto

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