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Just the word "smoothie" calls to mind a soothing, cooling sippable meal in a tall, frosty glass. An easy breakfast or expeditious snack, a smoothie is the deliciously healthy cousin to an ice cream shake. The only equipment you need is a good blender. (I can attest that a food processor will leak.)

Despite their no-cooking simplicity, things can go wrong. Your concoction might end up watery, flavorless or overly vegetal. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when whirring up a luscious drink.

Too watery and limp? Add a dense fruit such as a banana or mango; an avocado adds body, too. You might add a tablespoon or two of nut butter — peanut, almond and cashew all work — or tahini. Try adding few chunks of silken tofu or Greek yogurt or a splash of heavy cream; cooked oatmeal or white rice will also do the trick.

Tasteless or flat? Give it a splash of tangy lemon or lime juice, or kefir. A sprinkle of warm spices — ground cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger — or vanilla or almond extracts also will enhance flavors.

Pay attention to the order of ingredients. Add the liquid first and get the motor running to create a vortex before adding the more substantial ingredients, such as yogurt or tofu, avocado or banana, then frozen fruit. If you're relying on fresh fruit, it's best to first freeze it for a day or two.

Pumping up the protein is tricky. Those powders can turn gritty, so try dissolving them in a little juice and then pouring the mixture through a sieve into the blender. Or, instead, add a high-protein ingredient such as silken tofu, Greek yogurt, kefir or a nut butter.

The best smoothies rely on your own particular tastes, not on a recipe. It's all about proportions. Consider the recipes below to be guidelines; make them your own and enjoy right away. The ingredients tend to separate, but if that happens, just re-buzz to reboot. Cheers!

Berry Avocado Smoothie

Makes 1 drink.

Note: No dairy? No problem. A ripe avocado gives this luscious drink its creamy silkiness. No sweetener is needed, as the blueberries are delicious enough. If using fresh fruit, freeze it for a day or two first. From Beth Dooley.

• 1/2 c. nondairy milk, such as oat, almond or coconut milk

• 1 medium banana, cut into 1-in. chunks

• 1/2 very ripe avocado, cut into 1-in. chunks

• 2 c. frozen berries, such as blueberries or raspberries (see Note)

• 1 tbsp. almond or other nut butter

• Generous pinch cinnamon


Pour the milk into the blender and turn the motor on. With the motor running, add the banana and avocado and blend. Add the berries and the nut butter and process until smooth.

Simplest Fruit Smoothie

Makes 1 drink.

This is the easiest, most sippable breakfast ever! Whizz it up and hit the road. If using fresh fruits, freeze them for a day or two first. From Beth Dooley.

• 1/2 c. fruit juice (orange, tangerine, cranberry)

• 3/4 c. plain yogurt, preferably whole milk

• 1 1/2 c. (6 to 7 oz.) frozen peaches, mango or cherries, or a mix (see Note)


Pour the fruit juice into a blender and start the motor. With the motor running, add the yogurt and process until blended. Add the fruit, about 1/2 cup at a time, and continue to process until blended.

Beth Dooley is the author of "The Perennial Kitchen." Find her at