4 healthy smoothie recipes (no kale)

Daniel Neman
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Everybody likes smoothies. Right?

OK, I don’t. But as far as I can tell, everybody else does.

There is something about a smoothie that just makes it instantly appealing to everyone (but me). You take a bunch of healthful fruit or vegetables, throw them together in a blender, add kale for some incomprehensible reason and blend them together into a messy drink that is sort of like a V8, only not as good.

At least smoothies are a great way to get in a serving or two of vegetables or fruit, with all of their important vitamins and fiber, while still consuming little fat.

I’m talking here about healthful smoothies, smoothies that are more or less good for you. Yes, a lot of people put ice cream in their smoothies, or flavored yogurt, but at some point these no longer become smoothies; they are more like a milkshake. Even protein powder or peanut butter can add considerable extra calories.

Consider, for instance, the very first recipe for smoothies that pops up when you do an internet search for “smoothie recipes.” It’s a Food Network recipe for a banana smoothie, and it is made from two bananas, 1/2 cup each of vanilla yogurt and milk, two teaspoons of honey, a pinch of cinnamon and ice.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But even if you use lowfat yogurt it still works out to 410 calories. That’s almost two 3 Musketeers bars’ worth of calories.

Perhaps the greatest appeal of smoothies is that they are easy to make; you don’t have to be a smoothie king, as it were, to make them. To make them even easier, there are just a couple of things to remember:

If you will be making them out of dense vegetables, such as raw beets or sweet potatoes, use a very powerful blender. If you don’t have a powerful blender, cook the vegetables first.

Some smoothies call for ice, but the ice can water down the drink. If you use frozen fruit or vegetables, that will give it a slushy texture while still creating nothing but juice.

I made four relatively healthful types of smoothies, giving myself only one rule: no kale. Our taste testers enjoyed them, with one exception. One of the drinks is primarily made from carrots and tomatoes, and it has a lovely orangish-red color.

A couple of our tasters assumed it was watermelon and dashed it down expecting something sweet and watermelony. They were disappointed, because it tasted healthful.

I could see why they would feel that way. When you get your mouth ready for some watermelon, a combination of tomatoes and carrots is just not going to satisfy you — even when it also contains orange juice, lemon juice and ginger.

Knowing what I was getting when I tried it, I thought it tasted pretty good. For a smoothie.

My next smoothie is one of those combinations you might not think would work, unless you are already part of smoothie culture. But smoothies made from mixed berries and beets are so popular you can actually buy bags of frozen mixed berries and beets — all in the same bag — just to make them.

I didn’t use one of those bags. I bought my own beets, and I even went to the trouble of peeling it, though that isn’t strictly necessary. One woman I know puts the whole beet in, greens and all.

I did, however, use frozen mixed berries (to make it cold and give it the right texture). Into this melange I also pureed orange juice, yogurt, honey and a little granola, along with ice. It was too thick, so I thinned it out with more ice, and eventually added a little water. More orange juice would have worked just as well.

No smoothie king worth his kosher salt makes smoothies without having at least a few green ones in his repertoire. I made two. One was dark green, with lots of spinach to go with frozen mango, banana and lemon juice.

The other was light green, colored by that unfailingly winning combination of honeydew and cucumber. All I had to add to that was some white grape juice and frozen green grapes.

It was good. No, it was great — even to an anti-smoothie person such as me.

If you absolutely must, you can add kale to any of these smoothies. See if I care.

Icy Carrot Cooler

Yield: 2 servings

1 carrot, sliced

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tomatoes, quartered

1 teaspoon minced ginger

4 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Per serving: 65 calories; no fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; 2 g protein; 15 g carbohydrate; 10 g sugar; 2 g fiber; 28 mg sodium; 30 mg calcium

— Recipe fromsmoothieninja.com

Mixed Berry and Beet Smoothie

Yield: 1 serving

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 cup mixed frozen berries or blueberries

2 tablespoons granola

1/2 cup diced beet, either raw or roasted

1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt or low-fat coconut milk

1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup

6 to 8 ice cubes

Pour all ingredients in a blender and blend for 1 full minute. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add more orange juice or water.

Per serving: 315 calories; 6 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 4 mg cholesterol; 9 g protein; 61 g carbohydrate; 41 g sugar; 12 g fiber; 104 mg sodium; 187 mg calcium

— Recipe adapted from the New York Times

It’s Easy Bein’ Green

Yield: 2 servings

3 cups baby spinach

2 cups frozen mango

2 bananas

Juice of 2 lemons

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Per serving: 225 calories; 1 g fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; 4 g protein; 57 g carbohydrate; 38 g sugar; 7 g fiber; 39 mg sodium; 71 mg calcium

— Adapted from a recipe bydelish.com

Green ’n Lean Smoothie

Yield: 2 servings

11/2 cups honeydew, chilled and chopped

1/2 cup white grape juice

1/2 cup cucumber, seeded and chopped

3/4 cup frozen green grapes, see note

Note: To make frozen green grapes, place green grapes in a freezer.

In a blender, combine honeydew, grape juice and cucumber, and briefly blend. Add frozen grapes and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 127 calories; no fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; 2 g protein; 32 g carbohydrate; 29 g sugar; 2 g fiber; 28 mg sodium; 25 mg calcium

— Recipe fromsmoothieninja.com