Smoothie: A Milkshake Without Fat

You like a sweet, thick, icy drink to quench summer thirst. But you also know you should have less fat and more fruit in your diet. So on a regular basis, the old-fashioned high fat milkshake is out. It's got too much fat and too many calories to be a daily treat. Consider, then, the smoothie.

All you need is a blender, some fresh fruit, some nonfat yogurt and a vivid imagination to concoct something that's pureed heaven.

Fruit is a necessary part of your diet -- two to four servings a day at minimum. A smoothie is a good way, too, to slip in some of the requirements of the milk, yogurt and cheese group. These provide protein and calcium. If you stick to nonfat yogurt, you can enjoy a smoothie that's packed with vitamins, protein and calcium -- with virtually no fat. It's a delicious way to indulge your taste buds, skipping the calories and fat  while loading up on essential nutrients.

Experiment. Add ice and you've got a thinner smoothie. Use more fruit, less yogurt and you've got a thicker mix. Add a banana to give heft to any smoothie.

Fat-free vanilla yogurt -- or plain yogurt with a few drops of vanilla extract -- can give a sweeter taste. Want it sweeter still? Add a little honey. For a denser texture, with added protein, add nonfat cottage cheese.

Here are three recipes to get you started.

Peach Smoothie

1 peach, peeled and cut into pieces (approximately 1 cup)

1 cup nonfat yogurt

2 ice cubes

Put it all in the blender and whirl. It works with fresh pineapple, too.

Makes one serving, with approximately 160 calories, 14 grams of protein and barely a trace of fat. You'll also get 454 milligrams of calcium.

Banana-Berry Smash

1 banana, cut up

1 cup berries -- your choice

1 cup nonfat yogurt

Put it all in the blender and whirl.

Makes one serving, with approximately 285 calories, 15 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fat, and 452mg of calcium.

Surprised? The banana and berries contain some fat. And different berries differ in calories. A cup of blueberries has 80 calories, a cup of raspberries has 60, while a cup of strawberries has only 45.

Melon Magic

1/2 cantaloupe, cut into chunks

1/2 cup nonfat yogurt

1/2 cup nonfat, dry curd cottage cheese

1 teaspoon honey

Put it all in the blender and whirl to the consistency that you prefer.

Makes one serving, with approximately 222 calories, 20 grams of protein, 272 milligrams of calcium and 1 grams of fat.

5 fun fruits you should try

Fruit is one of nature's perfect foods. It's packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. And it's delicious.

So go bite into an apple, a banana, or a...carambola fruit. Haven't heard of that one? Don't worry. As Americans are adopting healthier diets and becoming more adventurous, exotic fruits like the carambola are showing up in markets.

Here's a guide to five exotic fruits.

Carambola (star fruit)

This is a fruit that's a winner in all categories. It tastes great, and it's attractive as well. Nutritionally, it's a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium. It can be substituted for fresh lemon and lime slices, or eaten fresh.

Guava

Even if you've never had a guava, you may be familiar with the taste. Guavas give a tropical flavor to fruit drinks. High in vitamin C and potassium, they can be eaten plain. They're also widely used in jellies, jams and sherbets.

Kiwifruit

The kiwifruit, like its namesake bird, is small and cute. It's high in Vitamin C and pectin, which is a key fiber. Eat 'em plain, or carve into a succulent garnish.

Papaya

This is a good source of beta-carotene, a key antioxidant. You'll also find lots of potassium and calcium and a taste that many people say is addictive. Just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and dig in.

Mango

So lush and tropical that they're almost decadent, mangos. Each gives you about a tenth of your daily fiber requirement (which is 20-35 gm of fiber daily). They are a good source of vitamins A and C.  Peel and eat, but not while you're wearing a suit; mangos are messy.

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