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Healthy smoothies to beat the heat

Cool off with these refreshing recipes.
Healthy smoothies
Smoothies are a salve for the summer heat. But make sure you're sipping on one that's good for you. Photo: Istock

Pump up the AC and grab a cold drink, because it is full-on, sultry summer. After the longest winter ever, the season of sweat is here and we need some relief. On 80+ degree days, there’s nothing better than a cold, refreshing smoothie — especially when you’re so overheated, you can’t even stomach a whole meal. What should you be sipping on, and how can you be sure it’s actually good for you?

“The best smoothies for you are those that have a combination of fiber and protein without a lot of added sugar,” explains nutritionist Keri Gans.

For protein, she recommends greek yogurt, cottage cheese, lowfat milk, soy milk, or nut butter. Get your fiber by way of greens and fruit; and healthy fats are good — avocado, chia or flax seeds, for example — but she cautions that you should only include one serving, so as to keep the calorie count down.

A typical breakfast smoothie, for example, shouldn’t be more than 350-450 calories, she says; and if your smoothie is your snack, aim for around 200. She shares her orange splash smoothie, (350 calories, 27 g protein, 8 g fiber), which combines yogurt, strawberries, a quarter cup of orange juice and chia seeds.

For holistic health coach and nutritionist Kerri Axelrod, avocado, berries and maca powder (an herb and a superfood) are her go-to smoothie ingredients. Her maca green smoothie bowl, pictured below, combines spinach, unsweetened almond milk, banana and maca powder. For a garnish, she mixes it up —chia or hemp seeds, blueberries, shredded coconut, are all favorite toppings. 

"I love maca for its adaptogenic properites to help fight off stress and fatigure," Axelrod explains. "I also notice an increase in mental and physical energy levels when using maca regularly. Avocado provides healthy fats to keep you satiated but also make the smoothie bowl creamy and berries add a touch of sweetness and antioxidants while being lower on the glycemic index than tropical fruits commonly used in smoothie bowls."

Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames, aka, the Nutrition Twins, love this high-protein, low calorie Blueberry Banana Smoothie, combining blueberry and banana with kale, pineapple, Greek yogurt and coconut flakes. (If you're a fan of protein powder, try this version, which adds in Vega One Plant Powder or Amazing Grass). "Blueberries flood your body with anti-aging and disease-fighting phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as bloat-fighting potassium and water," they write. Paired with the pineapple, it's a great source of Vitamin C, while kale provides detoxing properties. 

Speaking of greens: when we spoke with Cheryl Forberg, nutritionist on “The Biggest Loser,” this spring, she told us that we should be eating four cups of fruits and veggies a day — mostly veggies, because they are high in water and fiber, but low in calorie and sugar, so they fill you up without packing on pounds. An easy way to up your veggie intake? With a green smoothie. Her Create-Your-Own-Green-Smoothie follows a simple formula: 1-2 cups of greens (kale, spinach, etc), 2 cups of liquid (water, milk, etc.), 2-3 cups of fruit (banana, avocado, etc), and extras (turmeric, yogurt, chia seed, etc.).

If you need some more visual inspiration, these are the top ten most pinned smoothies on Pinterest this spring. But while you're salivating, be sure to check the recipes first before you break out the blender: 

             Triple Berry Kiwi Smoothie 
             Perfect Skinny Smoothie
             Strawberry Banana Smoothie
             Pineapple Avocado Green Smoothie
             Super Detox Green Cleansing Smoothie
             Cinnamon Roll Smoothie
             Carrot Pineapple Smoothie
             Strawberry Mango Smoothie
             Coffee Smoothie
             Purple Detox Smoothie