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How to Blend Healthy Vegan Smoothies That Are Delicious, Too

Ever since Jamba Juice made fruit processing popular since coming of age in the 90s, so many chains across the country have tried to make smoothies a part of the menu. Whether tastefully done with quality ingredients, or merely strawberries blended over corn-syrup heavy discount frozen yogurt, we've all grown used to being able to pick up a blended fruit drink wherever we are. It's an easy on-the-go convenience too, and oftentimes seems much healthier than picking up an éclair, or loading up on coffee and a muffin. However, it's not too hard to forget you can do smoothies of your own right on the home countertop. Frequently, these drinks end up being much healthier than anything we grab from a chain – with personalized ingredients to boot.

Strawberries, combined with crushed ice, give vegan smoothies texture and body.

Whether Jamba or not, oftentimes the smoothies we pick up are heavy with dairy or sweetened yogurts. This does no favors for the vegans among us, and often these smoothies do little but de-energize us when they should be revitalizing. Dairy can sit heavy in the stomach, and the processed sucrose that's ever-present in so much popularly marketed yogurt and ice cream can give you a superficial 'spike' in energy that might leave you sluggish not too much later while your body labors in overtime to digest the dairy. Even among those of us who have lactose tolerance, this is no blessing for the system.

It's much easier, and generally much healthier, to make juice blends that incorporate solely fruit (or vegetable) ingredients. Orange juice can be a great baseline for adding ingredients, but it's never mandatory. Oftentimes you may want to shy away from the citrus entirely. A combination of ice and strawberry can go a long way towards giving a homemade smoothie texture and body. Even if you choose to add citrus to the mix, freshly peeled oranges are an eccentric-sounding addition that may give deeper flavor to the smoothie than merely pouring in long-preserved OJ.

Going tropical is a typical way to give life to your smoothie, but there are many different ways you can bring out the equator in your drink. Bananas are always a respectable choice, as they add a thickness to the drink in addition to a gentler sweetness. For a tarter choice, freshly diced mangos are especially sweet, and blend with much more ease and character than their frozen cousins.

Though not as frequently considered, papaya often pairs great with a strawberry/ice/mango mixture. More subtle in its flavor, but nevertheless distinctly sweet, the fiber in the papaya can keep you fuller longer while giving body to your smoothie.

In my opinion, it's best to keep your smoothies dairy-free. The vegan choice is the most rejuvenating, and sensible portions of soymilk or even coconut milk (strange sounding, I know, but very refreshing!) can go a long way towards giving your smoothies even more character than they had before.

And what about the health benefits? Aside from the hydration and the healthy dose of Vitamin C that many of these smoothies give in spades, the addition of bananas, mango, or papaya can add helpings of potassium and pro-vitamin A to your diet as well. For those who mix in coconut milk, your smoothies can go a long way towards giving you your daily dose of iron, copper and magnesium, too.

About the Author: Andy is an avid foodie and writer, eating his way around the Washington DC area. He can be reached at andrewjack.fletcher@gmail.com or on Twitter at @FreeTheFoodie.

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