Smoothies are a great way to pack nutrients and flavor into your day. They are easy to make and transport; the only limitation is your imagination!

To ensure that you sip on a deliciously smooth smoothie every time, follow these 7 tips (and check out my favorite detoxifying smoothie recipe below):

1. Follow the smooth order.

For the most efficient blend (and the smoothest consistency), pour liquids into the container first. This helps the blades get moving when you turn on your blender and encourages the solid ingredients to liquefy more evenly. Next, add powdered ingredients such as cacao, protein blends, and superfood powders, and cover them with soft ingredients like bananas, avocados, fresh berries and cucumber. This keeps the powders from flying up into the lid. After that, throw in hard ingredients like frozen fruits and raw fibrous vegetables. Always throw the ice in last, to help the machine pull all the other ingredients down into the blades for even mixing.

Note: With personal blenders (since you fill, and then invert the container onto the motor to blend), reverse this order and put ice in first.

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2. Choose premium produce.

Using locally grown organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs in season and at the peak of ripeness supports your local community and gives you flavor-rich blends that are healthy and free of synthetic pesticides and genetic modification. That said, organic produce can be expensive. A good way to compromise is to focus on the produce that’s most susceptible to pesticides. Use the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list as your guide for buying organic versions of these: organic leafy greens, berries, broccoli, apples, bell peppers, grapes, kiwis, peaches, nectarines and celery.

3. Buy fresh, keep fresh.

Storing foods properly maximizes longevity, freshness and flavor. Bananas, citrus, kiwis, tomatoes, pears, and whole mangoes, papayas and melons are best kept on the counter at room temperature. Once they’re peeled and sliced, they should go into the fridge in sealed containers. Apples, berries and stone fruits (peaches, apricots, plums, cherries and nectarines) fare better in the fridge. Allow your avocados to ripen at room temperature, but put them in the fridge to slow their ripening or to keep them at their prime longer. Raw nuts and seeds, as well as cold-pressed oils (except olive and coconut), are best stored cold. Superfoods and protein powders, once their packages are opened, keep better chilled, too.

4. Wash your produce thoroughly.

Fruits and vegetables can carry soil, bacteria and pesticide residue, and should be cleaned just prior to using. (Washing in advance is a quick road to rapid rot.) Use a vegetable brush, and rinse under cold water. I wash all produce with a solution of 1 tablespoon of baking soda plus 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice per quart (liter) of water, and then rinse well. You can peel foods with edible skins, but much of the goodness in those fruits and veggies is in the skins or just beneath, so I prefer to leave them on.

5. Use a variety of ingredients.

I use a range of fresh and frozen fruits for flavor, texture, color and nutritional variety. I freeze, stew, or dehydrate produce that has been picked at the peak of ripeness and flavor for year-round use. Dried apricots and pears, and unsweetened pear and apricot purees add enormous flavor to smoothies, as do pumpkin butter and applesauce.

6. Freeze your fruit.

Fresh, ripe, seasonal fruit adds exquisite flavor to smoothies. But I use some fruits frozen even when they’re in season, for a slushy or creamy consistency and ultimate chill factor. Frozen fruit thickens smoothies and reduces the need for plain ice, which waters down flavor. Frozen fruit is also convenient and allows you to enjoy favorites year-round. Buying fruit in season and freezing it will generally save money as well.

7. Add vegetables — as you like them.

Vegetables of various kinds work into smoothies with great success — raw, steamed and roasted. Don’t rule out raw veggies frozen, either — our taste buds are temperature-sensitive, so frozen produce is milder in flavor. (In small quantities, you won’t even taste most things.) Vegetables that are best used fresh are leafy greens, carrots, onions, peas and fruits we often consider vegetables, such as cucumbers, tomatoes and avocados. My frozen raw picks: cauliflower, broccoli, peas, spinach and carrots; those good steamed include carrots and cauliflower; good roasted or steamed are sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash and beets.

Kidney Cleanser

Serves 2

This fresh and fabulous flusher has a multidimensional tang (add stevia to taste) that keeps the liver detoxing at full speed. Cranberry juice, cranberries and red grapes are rich in antioxidants and quinine, which help cleanse the kidneys of urea, uric acid, and other toxins. Add the boosters for more cleansing power.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
  • 1⁄2 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes
  • 1⁄4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup frozen pitted sweet cherries

Optional boosters

  • 1⁄4 cup frozen raw cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup baby spinach, loosely packed
  • 1 teaspoon maqui powder

Preparation

Throw all of the ingredients into your blender and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and creamy.

A beautiful collection of vegan smoothies from powerhouse blogger The Blender Girl, featuring photographs, flavor boosters, and nutritional add-ons for every recipe. The Blender Girl Smoothies cookbook is available now. The Blender Girl Smoothies - Easy, Healthy Smoothie Recipes app is also available in the AppStore.

Photo courtesy of the author