In recent years, the whiz of blenders can be heard radiating from the kitchens of nearly every athlete. That’s because more people involved in active pursuits are realizing that, when the right ingredients are blended together, a smoothie can flood the body with vital nutrition for good health and brag-worthy performances. But who says a healthy smoothie is just for summer? Some of the foods we associate with sweater weather more than flip-flop season make for truly spectacular blender creations. Whether you chug these back after a spirited workout or for a quick breakfast, working the following recipes into your menu is most certainly a smooth move.
Chai Squash Smoothie
The benefits of this healthy smoothie: Full of soul-warming spices, the butternut squash in this smoothie delivers a payload of beta-carotene, a nutrient that can be converted in the body into vitamin A for improved immune functioning. After all, who isn’t pondering immunity these days? Better than milk, kefir adds tang, high-quality protein, and a healthy population of probiotic bacteria for better digestive health. You can also try replacing the butternut with cooked sweet potato.
1 cup plain kefir beverage
1 cup cubed butternut squash, cooked, and cooled
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1 small frozen banana, chopped
Place all of the ingredients in a blender container in the order listed and blend until smooth. Serves 1.
Mayan Hot Chocolate Smoothie
The benefits of this healthy smoothie: When in the throes of the deep freeze you may not always have an appetite for a frosty smoothie. This drink is reminiscent of hot chocolate with a fiery kick making it a great way to take a bite out of the winter chill. Cacao powder is rich in heart-benefiting antioxidants, protein powder is a convenient way to give your muscles the recovery amino acids they need, and—beyond making this toasty drink taste like a true treat—peanut butter is a source of beneficial monounsaturated fat.
1 cup milk or dairy-free milk of choice
1 banana, quartered
1 scoop plain, chocolate or vanilla protein powder of choice
1 tablespoon cacao powder
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a slight simmer over medium heat. Place hot milk in a blender container along with banana, protein powder, cocoa powder, peanut butter, vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne powder; blend until smooth. Serves 1.
Big Green Pear Smoothie
The benefits of this healthy smoothie: Banana and berries aren’t the only fruit you should blend into your performance smoothies. A pear offers seasonal-appropriate natural sweetness along with a solid amount of dietary fiber, something that few people eat enough off. Hemp seeds are loaded with plant-based protein (about 10 grams in a 3-tablespoon serving), Greek yogurt lends the drink more protein and delicious creaminess while subzero spinach is a stealth way to boost your intake of a range of essential nutrients, including vitamin K and folate.
3/4 cup milk or unsweetened dairy-free milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 ripe pear, cored and quartered
3 tablespoon hemp seeds (hemp hearts)
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
Place all of the ingredients in a blender container and blend until very smooth. Serves 1.
Orange Crush Smoothie Packs
The benefits of this healthy smoothie: Gathering up all the necessary ingredients when a smoothie craving strikes or after an exhausting training session can be a hassle. Not so when you cleverly put nearly everything you need on ice beforehand. These ready-to-go deep freeze smoothie packs are your answer to a nutritious drink in a matter of moments. And since almost all of us need to eat more vegetables, this smoothie is a great way to meet the daily food quota for the food group. Oranges and bell pepper are full of immune-boosting vitamin C, ginger has compounds that can aid in digestion and maybe help tame inflammation, and sunflower seeds are a leading source of vitamin E, an antioxidant linked to improved brain functioning.
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and chopped into ½-inch chunks
2 small orange bell peppers, seeds removed and quartered
2 oranges, peeled and quartered
2 large bananas, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
8 tablespoons unsalted shelled sunflower seeds
4 cups milk or plain non-dairy milk of choice
2 cups plain Greek or Skyr yogurt
Divide carrots, orange bell pepper, oranges, bananas, ginger, and sunflower seeds among 4 zip-top bags, seal shut and place in freezer to freeze contents. To make a smoothie, place 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup yogurt and contents of 1 bag in a blender container and blend until smooth. If needed, add more liquid to help with blending. If the contents of the smoothie bag freeze together into a solid mass simply pound the bag against a hard surface to break things up. Serves 4.
Beet Cheesecake Smoothie
The benefits of this healthy smoothie: This dessert-worthy smoothie is guaranteed to give you serious Insta-creed. Ricotta cheese is overlooked as a smoothie ingredient but it lends blended drinks with creamy richness and a dose of muscle-building whey protein. It’s also a great switch-up from yogurt. Naturally occurring nitrates in beets are thought to help athletes achieve new fitness feats by improving blood flow and, in turn, oxygen delivery to working muscles. When trying to breathe new life into your smoothies, turn to ingredients like mint and citrus zest to add a pop of exciting flavor.
1 cup milk or dairy-free milk of choice
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 small peeled and chopped beet, raw or cooked
4 large fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 frozen chopped banana
Place all of the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth. Serves 1.