4 Ways to Power Up Your Smoothies (1)Smoothies are the perfect family food. They’re easy to prepare, delicious, and portable—perfect snacks for pre- or post-hikes or even on the trail. They whole family loves them; they’re like sipping a mom-approved milkshake.

Smoothies are also healthy, of course, but the good news is that with a few simple tweaks we can make them even more wholesome. Here are four easy ways to make your smoothies nutritional superstars.

Skip the Ice – Instead of blending in ice to thicken and chill your smoothie, add a handful of frozen fruit. You’ll get extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber, plus more flavor. Who could argue with that?

Go to Seed – Seeds are trendy these days and for good reason. They are widely available and loaded with nutrition. My favorites are hemp seeds (for protein), chia seeds (for fiber), and ground flax seeds (for Omega-3 fatty acids).

Add Some Veggies – Baby spinach and baby kale are my two favorite vegetables to add to smoothies since they virtually disappear into a drink. But think beyond greens to reds and oranges. Cooked beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes all add an earthy sweetness to smoothies, plus plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Pack a Protein Punch – Personally, I am not a fan of protein powder since I prefer to get my nutrients from whole foods. But I still want to add protein to my smoothies, and happily there are easy ways to do so. Hemp seeds, nut butters, silken tofu, and yogurt all add a boost of protein that will help keep your brain alert and your body satiated. Cow’s milk will also give your drink several grams of protein so consider that when you choose your smoothie’s base.

Whether you follow a recipe or make up your own concoction, consider adding one or more of these ingredients for a truly super-charged smoothie. Here’s one to try and take on trail with you next time you head out:
4 Ways to Power Up Your Smoothies (2)Coconut-Carrot
Makes 2 Smoothies

This brilliant orange-colored smoothie tastes of apple, mango, and coconut. The lemon juice intensifies the flavors, but it does make the smoothie a bit more tart, so follow your taste buds.

1½ cups coconut milk
¾ cup chopped steamed carrots, chilled
1 small apple, cored and chopped
¾ cup frozen mango chunks
2 teaspoons lemon juice, optional

1. Add all of the ingredients to the blender, starting with the coconut milk.
2. Cover and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
3. Taste and add the lemon juice if desired.

Nutrition per serving: 148 calories; 1g protein; 4g fat (3g sat. fat); 30g carbohydrates; 5g fiber; 24g sugars; 46mg sodium; 102mg calcium; 1mg iron; 405mg potassium; 29mg Vitamin C; 9105IU Vitamin A

Jenna Helwig headshot.hi resJenna Helwig is the food editor at Parents magazine and the author of the cookbooks Real Baby Food and Smoothie-licious. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and daughter, but loves a good hike especially when she visits her home state of Colorado. Visit her at jennahelwig.com

 

Excerpted from Smoothie-Licious, © 2015 by Jenna Helwig. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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