Smoothies are fast and easy to make, and indulgent without being loaded with fat and calories. Plus, the only equipment you need is a blender.

Smoothies are fast and easy to make, and indulgent without being loaded with fat and calories. Plus, the only equipment you need is a blender.

Of course, a smoothie is only as healthful as the ingredients you put in. So avoid dumping in sugar or thickening with full-fat dairy products. There are easy, healthful alternatives.

Using fruit as the base adds calories, but also plenty of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. For convenience, wash, cut and freeze fruits such as melons, stone fruits and berries when they are in season so you have them on hand when smoothie inspiration hits.

Peeled and cut tropical fruits, such as bananas, pineapples and mangoes, also are great ingredients to keep in the freezer.

To add more nutrition, add things like ground flaxseeds, tofu, essential fatty acids and lecithin. You can also use smoothies as a healthy way to use up many of the excess vegetables from your garden, such as peas, green beans, zucchini and greens.


Strawberry-Banana Smoothie
Start to finish: 5 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups unsweetened frozen strawberries
2 small bananas, broken into chunks
1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 158 calories; 4 calories from fat; 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 1 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 5 g fiber; 157 mg sodium.

Blueberry-Pomegranate Smoothie
Start to finish: 5 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 151 calories; 7 calories from fat; 1 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 1 mg cholesterol; 34 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 3 g fiber; 189 mg sodium.