It must be more than a coincidence that in the heat of summer, when we most need refreshment and hydration, the plumpest, most water-rich fruit is ripe for the picking – berries, cherries, grapes, melons, peaches and plums – all plentiful, sweet, dripping with juice and exactly what you crave on a sweltering day.
The fruit is wonderful eaten as is, still warm from the summer sun. But chilling it bumps the refreshment factor up a notch. (What’s a better picnic treat than cut melon pulled from an icy cooler?) Freezing the fruit takes the cooling effect a step further and invites a swirl of frosty options, not to mention how it preserves the seasonal bounty for months to come.
Just put frozen fruit in a blender, pour in enough milk to cover it, and you have the base of a frothy, drinkable smoothie; add a tiny bit of liquid instead – enough to get the mix whirring – and you wind up with a sorbetlike frozen dessert. Split the difference and you get the makings of a smoothie bowl: a frosty fruit puree that is so thick you can top it with all kinds of fun, healthful ingredients and eat it with a spoon.
This version is a mix of cherries, for a brilliant red, summery essence, and ripe banana, which provides enough sweetness that you don’t need added sugar. The fruits are frozen and blended with low-fat milk (you could substitute almond, coconut or soy milk if you prefer) and an aromatic hint of vanilla until smooth and spoonable, then poured into a bowl and topped with an array of colors, tastes and textures: juicy berries, chewy coconut, and crunchy, protein-rich almonds and chia seeds.
It’s one of those recipes you can freely play around with, using any mix of fruit, nut and seed toppings you like, for a breakfast or snack that’s satisfying and refreshingly different.
Cherry Berry Smoothie Bowl
1 very ripe banana, frozen
2 cups frozen pitted cherries
1 1/4 cups low-fat milk (1 percent)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see NOTE)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Combine the banana, cherries, milk and vanilla extract in a blender; puree until smooth. You might need to stop the blender to stir with a spatula a couple of times, depending on the appliance’s power.
Divide among individual bowls, then arrange the blueberries, raspberries, coconut, almonds and chia seeds on top of each portion. Serve right away.
NOTE: Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant, shaking the pan as needed to prevent scorching. Cool completely before using.
Nutrition per serving: 210 calories, 6 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium, 7 g dietary fiber, 21 g sugar
From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.