Hi Everyone!  Welcome back to In the Kitchen with Caitlin, a blog series where I feature some lesser known ingredients and highlight ways to use them in delicious and healthy recipes.  Did you know March is National Frozen Food Month?  No?  Well, don’t feel bad, I didn’t either until just recently.  In honor of National Frozen Food Month, I’m going to blog about how to build a nutritious and delicious smoothie.  Smoothies are a great way to save some money on fruit by buying frozen.  I love having frozen fruit on hand because unlike fresh, it is picked in season and flash frozen so the flavors are great any time of year.  Also, frozen fruit, unlike canned, is typically frozen without any added sugar or juice so you’re just getting the fruit itself.  Lastly, keeping frozen fruit on hand means you don’t have to worry about it spoiling.  If you live alone, you may be deterred from buying fruit because it tends to spoil before you get a chance to eat it all, with frozen fruit you don’t have to worry about that!

frozen fruits.jpgI always keep a bag of frozen mixed berries in the freezer as well as a bag of tropical fruit like mangoes or pineapple.  If you have fresh fruit that is starting to turn (this always happens to me with bananas!), you can freeze that as well.  Simply prepare the fruit as you would if you were going to eat it fresh; wash and dry, remove stems and pits, and cut into bite sized pieces (you can leave berries whole).  To prevent the fruit from freezing together and creating a mess when it thaws, lay out the fruit on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze, then transfer into storage containers or plastic storage bags. 

When you’re ready to make your smoothie, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • ingredients.jpgChoose two fruits. For a nice blend of flavor, choose at least two fruits to put into your smoothie.  I think bananas add a nice sweet flavor base so that’s often my go to choice and then I vary the others with fruits such as berries or pineapple. 
  • Add a vegetable. You don’t have to add veggies to your smoothie, but if you’re looking for an extra boost of nutrition, spinach and kale both work really well and are in process.jpgtasteless!  If you’re turned off by the green coloring, blend the veggies up with a variety of berries, the deep purple color of the berries will mask the green.
  • Boost the protein. While high in fiber, fruits and vegetables are low in protein. So if you’re having a smoothie made from produce alone, you may not be satisfied for long.  Tasty protein options include plain yogurt, cottage cheese, silken tofu, nut butters, or you can use your favorite protein powder. 
  • Choose a liquid. In order to make the smoothie drinkable, you will likely need to thin it out with a liquid.  Typically I just use water for this, but milk or a sugar free dairy alternative like almond milk will work as well.  Generally a half cup is enough, but you can add as much as needed to reach the consistency you like. Some people also add ice to their smoothies, but if you’re using frozen fruit, there’s no need for this extra step!

Smoothies are also a great way to add in other nutritious foods like flax or chia seeds, oat bran, wheat germ, or even wheat grass!

It’s hard to go wrong when making a smoothie, I suggest you play around with different fruit combinations so that you always have final.jpgsomething new to taste!  To help get you started, today I will be showing you how to make our wild berry smoothie.  For this recipe you will need a blender of some kind- either a traditional blender or an immersion blender, which is what I will be using.

The fruit we are using in this smoothie is one small banana and one cup of frozen blueberries or frozen mixed berries (really any berry will work here).  There are no vegetables in this particular recipe, but I happen to have about a half cup of raw baby spinach leftover from lunch yesterday, so I’m going to throw that in there so that you can see how it won’t change the color.  I’m also adding a half cup of water to thin it out.  For some extra fiber, this recipe also calls for two tablespoons of oat bran.  You will also see that this recipe has options for adding honey and vanilla for additional flavoring.  I would recommend trying this without those added ingredients first because I think you will find that there is plenty of flavor and sweetness without them!

To prepare this recipe, just throw all ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth.  Then pour into a glass and enjoy!  If you’re short on time in the morning, you can even blend this together the night before and store in the blender in the refrigerator overnight.  Then in the morning, throw in a couple of ice cubes and quickly blend before serving.

Smoothies are a great way to incorporate frozen foods into your diet and can even help cut down on food waste if you freeze your fresh produce before it spoils.  I also love how they encourage creativity in the kitchen.  If you have a favorite smoothie combination, please let us know! 

See you in the kitchen,