It feels good to be back in the fall routine, with school days and a full schedule of pickups, drop-offs, activities and events. It is a welcome return to the familiar, but going out more also opens us up to some of the things we would rather do without, like the first colds of the school year. We could all use some healthy recipes to keep us feeling good during this busy time. And if we can use our blender to make them, all the better!
Time to cook can also be in short supply during the busy back-to-school season, and your blender can help you get a healthy dish or snack on the table quickly, sometimes without even having to cook. More than 90% of households in the U.S. have a blender, and healthier eating is one of the most popular reasons for using one.
“Staying healthy is multifaceted process that includes managing stress, proper sleep, regular exercise and staying hydrated, in addition to maintaining a healthy diet,” says Dana Angelo White, a sports dietitian and associate clinical professor of athletic training and sports medicine at Quinnipiac University and owner of Dana White Nutrition. “When it comes to food, antioxidant-rich sources help to fight inflammation, and foods high in zinc and vitamins C and D are some of the most coveted immunity-centric nutrients.”
We asked White and Libby Mills, a registered dietitian, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and host of the Libby’s Luncheonette podcast for some of their favorite nutrient-rich blender recipes that can boost your nutrition as the school year picks up.
Pumpkin Orange Ginger Smoothie
“Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods is one of the best things you can do to support your immune system,” Mills says. “A good place to start is by setting a goal to eat seven servings of vegetables and fruits a day.”
This smoothie offers a jolt of nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin C, protein and vitamin D if you use fortified orange juice or milk, Mills says. “Substituting a plant-based milk for cow’s milk, may or may not have vitamin D. You would have to read the label to know for sure. The pumpkin seeds, along with the milk provided protein, and are also a pretty tasty way to get zinc.”
¼ cup fortified 100% orange juice
½ cup low-fat milk
¼ cup pumpkin puree, or cooked pumpkin
¼ teaspoon grated ginger, peeled
1 small carrot, cut into several pieces
2-3 cubes of ice
2 tablespoons, pumpkin seeds (Save a few to sprinkle on top)
Add juice, milk, pumpkin, ginger, carrot, ice and most of the pumpkin seeds into your blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and top with pumpkin seeds.
“Yogurt (along with a little water) could be substituted for the low-fat milk, which would give you probiotics from its fermentation — also helpful to the immune system,” Mills says.
You will need your range before you use your blender for this one, which White created when her daughter was sick with a cold. “Add this soul warming recipe to your cold and flu season arsenal ASAP,” she writes.
1 medium butternut squash peeled, seeded and diced
3 large turnips peeled and diced
2 medium sweet potato peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch fresh oregano
1 small bunch fresh thyme
1 quart chicken stock homemade or low sodium
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Place vegetables on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper to taste; toss in the fresh herbs and roast for 35 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender. Discard the herbs and place roasted vegetables in a large soup pot. Add stock, cream and turmeric and season with an additional ½ teaspoon salt; stir and bring to a boil. Puree using an immersion blender – taste for seasoning and serve.
This recipe, from White’s book “Healthy, Quick & Easy Smoothies, has five ingredients and checks in at under 300 calories. White calls it “a seasonal delight bursting with vitamin C and 10 grams of protein per serving.”
1 cup orange juice preferably, freshly squeezed
1 cup frozen whole cranberries
3/4 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
In a blender, combine orange juice, cranberries and yogurt. Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour and serve immediately.
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 medium clementine
2 tsp chia seeds
In a blender, combine almond milk, mango, pineapple, clementine and chia seeds. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.