Tips for Making Better Smoothies in the Dead of Winter

The main ingredients in a decent smoothie—strawberries, blueberries, peaches—are a little hard to come by (or cost a fortune) this time of year. And so far, we've yet to see a winning recipe made with apples. Of course, there's always frozen fruit, but we've got some other creative tips for making fresh, creamy smoothies in the bleak months ahead.

Bananas, bananas, bananas. They're good (and cheap) any time of year, but in winter, they're essential. Here's the thing: FREEZE THEM. We think this is the key to making thick, creamy smoothies without having to add ice. Do you have a blender that won't chop ice very well? Frozen bananas are your friend. Peel them before you freeze them.

Use all frozen fruit—not just berries. The frozen rule goes for all of your fruit. If you aren't using a banana, frozen mixed berries will also add thickness (we just really hate blending ice). If your blender has a hard time with big, chunky, frozen strawberries, let them thaw for a couple of minutes and chop them into smaller pieces. And use other fruits; frozen peaches are great, as are frozen tropical fruits like pineapple and mango.

Add peanut butter or nuts. We like the idea of something heartier and less summer-in-a-glass when it's frigid outside. This Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Milkshake is more of a dessert, but you could omit the chocolate chips and call it breakfast. Or add some chopped almonds or walnuts.

Use tofu. This is another good year-round tip, but in the winter, it's nice to have alternative ingredients when fruit runs low. Tofu adds a good protein and texture. Try this Low-Sugar, High-Protein, Dairy-Free Smoothie.

Add ground-up oatmeal. Just another way to give a smoothie some heft and warmth (can we call it warmth?), especially if you're limited on fresh ingredients. Here's a post all about it. We're imagining a banana, oatmeal, yogurt smoothie with some honey or maybe flax seeds.

Freeze some yogurt and add oranges. Citrus is plentiful right now, but it doesn't exactly give you a soft, creamy texture. Try freezing some vanilla yogurt (almost like adding ice cream!) and making a creamsicle-ish smoothie.

Related: Winter Smoothies: 5 Seasonal Add-Ins

(Image: Stay Young Smoothie, from MarthaStewart.com)

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