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A Recipe for the Perfect Berry Smoothie

Tess Masters, also known as The Blender Girl, is back with more tips on how to create the very best berry smoothie recipes.

It's blueberry season, and I am so excited to blend up a storm with all of the fresh Driscoll's blueberries, because there are so many delicious combinations. It's really easy to make incredible blueberry smoothies. But, here's some tips to help you take your blends to the next level, and keep things interesting.

Before I jump into how to create the perfect blueberry smoothie, I think it's important to talk about the types of blueberries you can use. Meaning, I love using fresh berries in smoothies, but often I will freeze Driscoll's berries at the peak of ripeness and flavor for use all-year round. Frozen berries offer a slushy or creamy consistency, a chill factor, and thicken smoothies, reducing the need for plain ice, which waters down flavor. Buying berries in season and freezing them can save you money as well.

Here's how to freeze blueberries. Lay your whole berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) or halved strawberries (to help them blend more evenly) out on a lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer. Once the fruit's frozen, transfer to sealed containers or freezer bags.

Have a blast blending up some blueberries this season!

Liquids water, coconut water, orange juice, apple juice, pear juice, pineapple juice, and grape juice

Milks almond, coconut, rice, and dairy

Yogurt plain coconut, soy, almond, and dairy

Nuts and seeds a handful of almonds, cashews, or 1 tablespoon of chia, hemp, or flax seeds

Fruits other Driscolls berries, grapes, orange, apple, pear, mango, pineapple, peach, apricot, banana, avocado, and coconut

Chocolate 2 to 3 tablespoons of raw cacao, unsweetened cocoa powder, and carob

Spices ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cinnamon or ginger, a pinch to 1/8 teasppon of cardamom, cayenne pepper, or red pepper flakes

Fresh Herbs 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped mint or basil

Sweeteners 5 to 10 drops liquid stevia, 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, coconut nectar, and coconut sugar

Boost the nutritional profile of your berry smoothies by adding superfoods, oils, nuts and seeds, and frozen vegetables.

Açaí is a small, berry-like palm fruit with a deep purple hue that grows in Central and South America. The fruit is low in sugar, and has a mild, delicate flavor that tastes like tart blackberry with a hint of chocolate. It pairs beautifully with berries, beet, banana, nut milks, coconut milk, and dates. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of freeze-dried powder or 1 frozen pulp pack to a berry smoothie for a delightful creaminess.

Maqui This rich, dark purple berry (native to Patagonia) contains more antioxidants than any other food and boosts the power of your berries. The freeze-dried powder has mildly tart, fruity flavor (reminiscent of both blackberries and blueberries) and pairs well with all berries. Maqui powder has a vibrant purple color, so it's a great way to add a purple hue to your green smoothies.

Nuts and Seeds 1 tablespoon of chia, hemp, or ground flaxseeds adds some essential fatty acids as well as a slightly nutty flavor. 2 to 3 Brazil nuts, a handful of raw almonds or walnuts is also a great addition

Nut butters 1 to 2 tablespoons almond butter, peanut butter, or sunflower seed butter is a delicious creamy choice

Oils Add in 1 teaspoon of hemp, pumpkin seed or avocado oil, or 1 tablespoon of flax oil or coconut oil. These high quality cold-pressed oils add some healthy fats without altering flavor, with the exception of coconut oil, which will add a coconut flavor.

Frozen Vegetables you can add ¼ cup to ½ cup frozen raw cauliflower or broccoli completely undetected to most sweet blends. Because our taste buds are temperature sensitive, raw veggies are a lot milder when frozen.

Blending berries and leafy greens can often result in a dark, insipid brown color reminiscent of the swamp water where plants come to die. Rescue your smoothie from this deathly hue by blending in vibrant crimson characters like cranberry, pomegranate, and grape juices, and beet root, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, and red grapes. Or go in the other direction, and hide the greens in a healthy chocolate shake by blending in milk, cacao, and banana. Lemon, lime, and orange zest take the edge off the pungency of strong leafy greens, and likewise, herbs and spices like mint, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne life and lighten the weight.

Please note that fibrous greens like kale, collard greens, and bok choy may not fully liquefy in a conventional blender. For the smoothest texture, remove the ribs and chop the leaves finely.

Spinach this is my go-to leafy green to add to berry smoothies because it's mild in flavor and 1 to 2 cups baby leaves will blend in with other sweet fruits without altering flavor.

Romaine this is also a fabulous introductory green. 1 to 2 cups will blend in with 2 cups of blueberries undetected. Increase your quantity gradually, as overdoing it can lead to a mealy "wet salad" texture and a slight bitterness.

Kale this is a popular addition to smoothies. 1 to 2 cups can be added to sweet berry smoothies without changing the flavor. For a mild shake, start with 1 cup. If you go with 2 cups or more, balance the flavor with sweet fruits: pineapple, mango, berries, grapes, apple, peach, and banana all pair well with kale, as do tomato, avocado, coconut, chile, lime, lemon (juice and zest), and bell pepper, particularly in savory blends.

Radish Greens this is the best-kept secret in the smoothie-making world. Loaded with nutrients (more than the roots) 1/2 cup radish greens (the tops of 1 small bunch of radishes) will blend in with 2 cups blueberries undetected. Wash thoroughly to remove excess grit.

Beet Greens these are more hard-core greens. But, you can enjoy them! ½ cup to 1 cup of greens blended with 1 cup fruit juice and 2 cups blueberries tastes great. Added in larger amounts, you will get an unpalatable earthy edge.

Bok Choy it's not just or stir-fries. Try adding ½ cup to 1 cup leaves to your blends. This leafy green has a distinctive flavor that gets slightly bitter in larger amounts. But at these levels, you can mask the flavor with berries, and other fruits like pineapple, mango, banana, apple, pear, and citrus.

Chard Start with ½ cup and move up to 1 cup of leaves. Chard gets assertive when used in higher proportions, and you need to drink your smoothie immediately after making. With a mildly bitter, earthy flavor and a salty/lemony note, this pairs well with berries blended with sweet fruits like grapes, banana, pineapple, mango, orange, pear, and apple.

Collard Greens ½ cup to 1 cup of leaves. With a slightly bitter flavor, start small and mix with sweet fruits like mango, pineapple, peach, berries, banana, apple, and pear, and it's a good idea to add some juice, too.

Cardamom adds an exquisite flavor to berry smoothies. But, less is more with this spice. The strong, spicy-sweet or camphor-like flavor is dominating and can overwhelm other ingredients even when used in tiny amounts. Start with a scant pinch, and add more to taste. A blend can often handle 1/8 teaspoon, and occasionally 1/4 teaspoon.

Cayenne Pepper I'm a huge fan of including just a pinch of this hot ground pepper to give berry smoothies an amazing kick and healing potential. It not only adds a kick, but cayenne is a powerful alkalizing immune booster.

Cinnamon More than a fragrant flavor enhancer, cinnamon has powerful health-promoting qualities. It's soothing as well as stimulating, and heightens the brain boosting power of blueberries. The flavor pairing is just magical, too. Cinnamon blends well with other spices like nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Depending on the flavor profile, your average blend can handle anywhere from 1/8 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon. I find ½ teaspoon is usually perfect with blueberries.

Fresh Ginger This is my go-to spice for berry smoothies. It adds a citrusy zing and a comforting warmth (to balance the cooling effects of fruit), and has extraordinary medicinal powers. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and add to taste. 1 teaspoon typically strikes a nice balance with blueberries. Ginger is just a fantastic digestive aid, and stimulates, tones, repairs, and soothes the intestinal tract.

Red Pepper Flakes These bright little flakes not only add a spicy back-end kick to berry smoothies, but also offer a health boost helping to reduce inflammation and encourage detoxification. Start with a pinch, and add gradually to taste. Depending on the blend, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon is the right degree of heat. Add a dash to chocolate for a sweet and spicy adventure.

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