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Drink to nutrients - and taste

Fruit smoothies are a creative alternative to sugary beverages

Fruit smoothies are a creative alternative to sugary beverages

June 09, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Whatever kind of fruit suits your fancy, give it a whirl.

Fruit smoothies - made from fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, peaches, bananas and just about any other kind of fruit - provide a refreshing opportunity to fill up on essential nutrients, said Lynn F. Little, family and consumer sciences educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

One cup of blueberries, for example, contains 16 percent of the daily recommended allowance of fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium and folate. Blueberries also are low in fat and sodium, according to information from the California-based U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council - a nationwide network of highbush blueberry growers - at www.ushbc.org on the Web.

Eight medium-sized strawberries contain about 50 calories, 1 gram protein, 13 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams dietary fiber and no fat or sodium, according to information from the Pennsylvania-based North American Strawberry Growers Association at www.nasga.org on the Web. The strawberry trade association offers several fruit cookbooks that contain recipes for smoothies and shakes - but recipes often aren't required, said Little, who also writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail.

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"Smoothies are pretty straightforward," she said. "It's really more a matter of being creative with the ingredients than having a recipe."

To make a smoothie, simply choose your favorite fruit and add yogurt for protein and calcium, liquid or powdered milk for even more calcium, and perhaps wheat germ or oat bran for fiber, Little said.

Creativity is the buzzword for the fruit smoothies that Susanna and Jason Laird of Inwood, W.Va., often make for themselves and their three young children. Jason Laird has been known to even throw lemons and grapefruits - seeds and all - in the blender for a super-tart treat, his wife said.

"We always just wing it with what we have, and it always tastes great," Susanna Laird said. "It's especially good on the go."

She said the milkshake-like consistency of her fruit smoothies appeals to the kids. Laird advised avoiding water in smoothies because it makes them too runny, and too much yogurt without enough accompanying juice or milk - including soy milk - tends to make smoothies a bit "gluey." Laird favors using such frozen fruit as peaches, strawberries and cherries to keep her smoothies cold and thick without using ice. She also sweetens some of her smoothies with jelly.

Honey, fruit juice and a variety of spices also offer healthy alternatives to sweetening with sugar, Little said. The North American Strawberry Growers Association's "Naturally Good Berries" cookbook suggests the following seasonings for berries:

  • Strawberries - allspice, cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, mint, vanilla, peppermint.

  • Raspberries - cinnamon, ginger, citrus extracts, almond extract, rosemary, mint, nutmeg.

  • Blueberries - citrus extracts, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, mint.



Smoothies even offer a healthy use for overripe fruit such as bananas, which can be frozen until you're ready to toss them in the blender, Little said.

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