Smoothies: Tips to make them more nutritious, filling

Grace Choi and her daughter Kasper make cooking healthy a family routine. They make smoothies incorporating produce the toddler might not readily eat.

"Usually fruit she can eat pretty regularly, but vegetables are really hard," said Choi.

Why start the day with a smoothie?

"The advantage of smoothies over juice is that they contain the whole fruit, which provides fiber. It's also easy to add vegetables, protein and even whole grains," said Consumer Reports dietitian Amy Keating.

Begin with a protein base, like almond or regular milk, and yogurt.

Not only is it good to have lots of fruits and veggies in your diet - it's even better to change them up, so you benefit from different nutrients.

Your blender can work magic to combine fruits and vegetables that complement each other.
Like Kale and pineapple! The fruit's sweetness dominates and the kale is loaded with antioxidants.

Other great combos - spinach and blueberries; oranges and steamed carrots; and strawberries and beets.

Look through your fridge. Any produce from last night's supper can boost your breakfast and put the brakes on food waste.
"I make it a habit to freeze extra veggies from dinner, and any fruit that's getting too ripe. That way I have ingredients on hand," Keating said.

To give your smoothies that satisfying thickness - you can use apples, avocado, bananas, yogurt or nut butters.

Pulverizing a handful of whole oats, before adding anything else will make your smoothies extra filling.

If you're tempted to toss some protein powder into your smoothie - think twice. Most people get enough protein in their diet and some powders have contained heavy metals. A better protein boost would be to add some chia or flax seeds, which add healthy fats.
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