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TODAY'S PAPER

Blend and go smoothie recipes

Fill your thermos with this kale and pineapple smoothie. / Doug Young

As we return from summer vacation and get ready to go back to work and school, we’re confronted once again with that seasonal dilemma: What to pack for lunch? Rather than assembling a sandwich, a piece of fruit, some string cheese, a little bag of nuts, and other odds and ends that make a balanced meal, we decided to throw everything into the blender and mix a smoothie.

A good smoothie recipe...

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 As we return from summer vacation and get ready to go back to work and school, we’re confronted once again with that seasonal dilemma: What to pack for lunch? Rather than assembling a sandwich, a piece of fruit, some string cheese, a little bag of nuts, and other odds and ends that make a balanced meal, we decided to throw everything into the blender and mix a smoothie.

A good smoothie recipe will have the right ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrates to nourish and energize you or your child for the afternoon. Smoothies, unlike juices which are strained during juicing, contain all of the healthy fiber of the unblended fruit and vegetables, not to mention large servings of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Quick and affordable, smoothies can help you resist the temptation to pack convenience foods laden with additives, salt and trans fats, or spend a fortune ($10 or more) for a takeout smoothie of unknown nutritional value.

Start with fruits and vegetables. Add some yogurt, cottage cheese or milk (soy or almond are good dairy-free choices). Supplement with peanut butter, almond butter, flaxseeds or chia seeds for extra protein. A handful of ice cubes will keep the mixture cold. Add a touch of sweetener if you’d like. Once you master the formula, inventing your own smoothie recipes is easy.

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Use fresh fruits and vegetables in season, and feel free to rely on frozen fruit during colder months, adjusting amounts of liquids and ice cubes as necessary to get a thick but drinkable texture. These recipes make 1 large smoothie, or 2 smaller kid-size drinks.

OATMEAL AND BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE

 1 banana, peeled and cut into chunks

3/4 cup blueberries

1/2 cup oat milk or regular milk

1/3 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup ice cubes

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2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup, or more or less to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into a thermos and seal tightly. Shake before drinking. Makes 1 large serving.

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STRAWBERRY-ALMOND SMOOTHIE 

2 cups sliced strawberries

1/2 cup almond milk

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1/2 cup ice cubes

2 tablespoons almond butter

1 tablespoon honey, or more or less to taste

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into a thermos and seal tightly. Shake before drinking. Makes 1 large serving.

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 KALE-PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 cup kale leaves, chopped

1/2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup ice cubes

1 tablespoon honey, or more or less to taste

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Pour into a thermos and seal tightly. Shake before drinking. Makes 1 large serving.

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BANANA-SPINACH CASHEW MILK SMOOTHIE

1 ripe banana, peeled and cut into pieces

2 cups baby spinach leaves

1/2 cup cashew milk or regular milk

1/2 cup ice cubes

1/4 cup unsalted cashew nuts

1 tablespoon honey, or more or less to taste

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into a thermos and seal tightly. Shake before drinking. Makes 1 large serving.

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 CHOCOLATE-MINT SMOOTHIE

 1/2 small ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into pieces

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 cup light coconut milk

1/2 cup ice cubes

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1 tablespoon flax or chia seeds (optional)

1 tablespoon agave syrup or sugar, or more or less to taste

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into a thermos and seal tightly. Shake before drinking. Makes 1 large serving.