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3 Healthy Smoothies Perfect for the Holidays

It's time to get out the blender and put it to work with these simple, delicious recipes for healthy, seasonal smoothies with an autumn twist. If you don't already drink juices or blended drinks on a regular basis, smoothies are a great place to start. These simple blends are easy to love and even easier to integrate into your daily routine.

Here are a few tips on why smoothies are an easy way to incorporate some great nutrition into your daily diet:

  • Smoothies are one of those no-hassle treats you can whip up quickly, and with just a few ingredients you may already have on hand.
  • Drinking smoothies on a regular basis can be a really good habit to form, however you have to be smart about the ingredients you choose. Store-bought smoothies typically contain sweetened fruit juice, sugar and even ice cream, but making them at home with fresh fruit, vegetables and other ingredients can make for a very healthy snack.
  • Fewer than a quarter of Americans get enough fruits and vegetables, despite the USDA's recommendations of at least five servings per day. With a smoothie, you can easily incorporate 1-2 cups of greens and 1-1.5 cups of fruit. "Drinking smoothies, especially for breakfast, is one of the easiest way to add some fruit to your diet," says Joseph Price, PhD, a health economist and associate professor at Brigham Young University.

Fall Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Pumpkin smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, frozen
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 apple, cored
  • Dried cranberries

Instructions

Combine all ingredients except cranberries in blender and blend until smooth. Top with cranberries.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Pumpkin isn't just for pie or decorating your front porch at Halloween. It's also a low-calorie food packed with nutrients.

  • One cup of cooked mashed pumpkin contains just 49 calories.
  • Pumpkin may be beneficial for prostate health and improving HDL, the "good" cholesterol.
  • Both canned and fresh pumpkin are healthy options, as are the seeds. Just steer clear of canned pumpkin with added ingredients, such as salt or sugar.
  • Pumpkin flesh gets its orange color from beta-carotene, an antioxidant belonging to a group of pigments called carotenoids. Beta-carotene may help reduce cell damage in the body and improve immune function. It may also reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease.
  • Colorado State University's Shirley Perryman, M.S. also reports that beta-carotene could lower your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration. This antioxidant is converted to vitamin A in the body, an important nutrient for eye health.

Winter Green Ginger-Pineapple Smoothie

Green smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 cups frozen pineapple
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 1/4 cups water

Instructions

Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. If you like an extra crunch, top your smoothie with 1/4 cup chopped nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, for a more filling meal.

Health Benefits of Spinach

  • Low in calories and high in vitamins, spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence.
  • One cup of the leafy green vegetable contains far more than your daily requirements of vitamin K and vitamin A, almost all the manganese and folate your body needs and nearly 40 percent of your magnesium requirement.
  • It is an excellent source of more than 20 different measurable nutrients, including dietary fiber, calcium and protein.
  • One cup of spinach has only 40 calories.

Strawberry-Mango Sunset Smoothie

Mango smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 banana, peeled, sliced and frozen
  • 1 frozen mango chunks
  • 5 large frozen strawberries
  • Chia seeds

Instructions

Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Health Benefits of Mango

Mangoes have been part of the human diet for over 4,000 years. The mango tree grows in the tropics and produces juicy, nutritious fruits. People eat mangoes alone or add them to fruit salads and salsas. Fresh mangoes are low in calories and contain beneficial nutrients. Available year-round, mangoes are a healthy addition to your diet.

  • Mangoes provide 2.6 g of dietary fiber in a serving of one cup.
  • Fiber provides short-term benefits, fostering proper digestion and prevents constipation.
  • Fiber also has long-term benefits. It can lessen your chances of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and diverticular disease. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume at least 25 grams of fiber a day and men consume at least 38 grams. One cup of mango can help you reach that total.
  • Mangoes supply a healthy dose of vitamin A, which is necessary to support healthy eyes and proper bone growth. One cup of mango provides about 35 percent of the vitamin A your body needs daily for good health.

4 Tips on How to Make a Great Smoothie

  1. Invest in a good blender or blender/chop/prep tool (like the nutria-bullet)
  2. Prepare frozen fruit ahead to save time. Cut and freeze on a baking sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag or container.
  3. Frozen bananas go a long way. Peel, slice, and freeze them. This go-to smoothie ingredient adds thickness without taking over other flavors.
  4. Add ingredients like milk, yogurt, water, or juice first to get the blender moving. Then, add lighter, drier ingredients, like leafy greens, followed by heavy ingredients like ice and fruit pieces.

Enjoy these smoothie recipes all year long and as often as you'd like. This is a great starting point, and remember to try experimenting along the way. Have fun with these combinations and try adding different ingredients to create your very own unique smoothie blends.

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