Blueberry and blackberry season is upon us and the apples are hot on their heals this time of year. These wonderful late summer fruits offer a wealth of antioxidants we can use through out the year to help boost our immune systems, improve vision, and clear our systems of toxins and free radicals that would otherwise hinder our bodies, minds, and performance. For athletic families like ours, this is the time to stock-up on these building blocks for our favorite winter smoothies.
Smoothies offer us a delicious way to get a world of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals even during the cold, bleak winter months. Fruits like blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, apple, pear, and grapes are all excellent sources of antioxidants as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants are important to athletes in part because they help keep our bodies strong and healthy, boosting our immune systems and helping eliminate free radicals that break down our cell structures and open the door to a variety of diseases. The vitamins and minerals in the same fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants are important for building the strong bones and muscles we count on in our athletic and exercie practices.
For my family, smoothies make getting an extra serving of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables not only easy, but also enjoyable. That makes getting a good breakfast, lunch, or snack in between school, work, and workouts realistic. Plus, it helps our family save the cash that might have otherwise went into the cheap, high-fat and high-salt snack alternatives that line our highways and supermarket shelves. For us, preserving the bounty of summer for use in winter smoothies is the choice that best supports our athletics, our health, and our pocketbooks.
This summer and fall, we’ll freeze, dry, and sometimes can fruits for use later in the year. Blueberries, strawberries, grapes, and raspberries freeze wonderfully on a waxed paper lined jelly roll pan. Once they’re frozen, drop them into a zip lock bag or other container so you can scoop out just what you need for each smoothie. The plus side to using frozen fruits is that no ice is needed to make that concoction cool and refreshing.
Apples can beautifully as apple sauce. We like jelly jar sized portions light on sweetener and cinnamon. They’re just the right size for a single or double smoothie. Pears canned in water or a light syrup made with local honey are terrific, too.
Dried blueberries, pears, apples, and even strawberries make a tasty addition at the last minute if you like a little more texture or early on if you like your smoothie super smooth. They’re easy to dry with a dehydrator or food dryer and keep well in sealed containers or plastic bags in the pantry. They’re also an easy ingredient for on-the-go trail mixes and homemade granola.
Whether you’re an athlete-extraordinaire or just someone who exercises for health, take time this summer to put-by a bit of those wonderful fresh fruits this season has to offer. Your body will heartily thank you after the last blush of summer has shriveled into winter’s chill grip as you sit by the fireside sipping a delightful summer-inspired smoothie or mixed fruit drink.
Make a daily smoothie part of your routine by getting up ten minutes earlier to blend one up. Try our Antioxidant Rich Smoothie Recipe and experiment from there.
Add all the ingredients for an Antioxidant Rich Smoothie to the blender hours or even the night before you want to have your smoothie. Put the blender in the refrigerator, then, when you’re ready, pull it out and blend. It’s an instant smoothie.
To find the best produce for your smoothies, stop by your local u-pick farm for berries. Buy twice what you think you want, then freeze the extra straight away that night.
Pick up a gallon of your favorite summer fruit from your local farmer’s market. Dry, can, or freeze half of it before you let the family dig in.
Watch your local Craig’s List for folks who are giving away their extra produce. Many people don’t harvest and put-by the bounty their predecessors planted in the form of trees and perennial fruiting bushes. Cash in by picking free produce and then preserving it.