What are dairy-free smoothies?

A dairy-free strawberry smoothie.

Dairy-free smoothies are mixed fruit drinks, usually served semi-frozen, that do not contain milk or dairy products. They are usually made in a blender and are a combination of solids and liquids. At least some of the solids are frozen, usually pieces of frozen fruit or ice cubes. Healthy food advocates often praise dairy-free smoothies as excellent sources of vitamins and minerals that, in most cases, are as delicious as they are nutritious.

Ice cubes are often used to make smoothies.

Smoothies usually have the consistency of milkshakes: they are typically cold, thick and rich. Most smoothies contain yogurt or milk, which makes them creamy. Dairy-free iterations avoid all milk-related products. That means they exclude yogurts and milk, as well as dairy products like whey protein.

There are many varieties of dairy-free smoothies. Most include some combination of fruit, juice, and ice. Some smoothies follow recipes, but drinks can easily be made with whatever ingredients are on hand. Fruits like bananas are popular, as are berries of all varieties. Tropical fruits, including pineapple and mango, are also common.

Kale is often used in a dairy-free smoothie.

Many of the ingredients in a dairy-free smoothie depend on the consumer’s goals. If the goal is simply to enjoy a refreshing fruit drink, the addition of sweeteners like sugar or honey is widely accepted. When the goal is nutrition, meal replacement, or weight loss, other supplements often come into play. Fortified soy milk is a popular addition to dairy-free smoothies for the health-conscious, as are leafy vegetables like spinach or kale. Healthy eating advocates often try to put as many nutrients and antioxidants in the blender as they can.

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Smoothies can be made with a variety of fruits, juices and ice.

Athletes are common drinkers of smoothies, but generally prefer dairy-free versions. Avoiding dairy before your workout is one way to prevent lactic acid build-up in your muscles, which can cause cramping and decreased performance. Lactose-free shakes are also particularly suitable for individuals with lactose sensitivities or lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a medical condition that prevents people from properly processing a specific sugar compound found in most dairy products.

Spinach can be used to make healthy green smoothies.

Eating dairy-free is also part of the vegan lifestyle and diet. Vegans avoid all animal products, which means dairy-free foods are essential. However, not all dairy-free smoothies are necessarily vegan. Sweeteners like honey should also be avoided.

Milk-free smoothies are easy to make at home, but they are also commercially available. Many communities have dedicated smoothie shops where customers can purchase made-to-order smoothies. Supermarkets may also sell smoothie kits in the freezer section. Pre-made smoothie kits usually contain a mix of frozen fruit pieces that can be added directly to a blender along with some sort of liquid, milk or juice in most cases. They may not be overtly labeled as dairy-free, but they can be used to make dairy-free smoothies by controlling what is added.

Adding any variety of fruits and vegetables to a smoothie blender is all it takes for a dairy-free smoothie.

Some pre-packaged drinks are also marketed as dairy-free smoothies. This type of beverage is usually found in the refrigerated beverage section of many specialty supermarkets. Most of the time, premixed products look more like fortified fruit juices than real smoothies: they can be blended and contain a lot of nutrients, but they’re not frozen. Preservatives and sugars may also have been added. The name “smoothie” is often used to evoke the health benefits of more traditional smoothies, but overall, this is a very different type of drink.

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