Smoothies are a great way to get vitamins and minerals into your body, especially when time or the ability to chew are limited. They are versatile and easily lend themselves to experimentation. Many are dairy-based, containing milk or yogurt, which lends a creamy texture to the finished product; however, the inclusion of dairy is not necessary to achieve a delicious-tasting, creamy smoothie.
Non-dairy "Milk" and Yogurt
There are a huge variety of non-dairy milk and yogurt products readily available today. Found at natural grocery stores and chain supermarkets, these dairy-free beverages include soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, rice milk, coconut milk and oat milk. Soy-, almond- and coconut-based yogurts are also easily found in supermarkets. Adding any of these items to a non-dairy smoothie will provide the creaminess that is typically achieved by including cow's milk or yogurt in standard blended drinks. These alternative milks and yogurts are also suitable for those who are allergic to dairy, lactose intolerant, vegetarian or vegan.
Fruit lends color, flavor and nutrition to blended drinks and is a standard inclusion in smoothies, offering a wide range of possibility to the creator. Whether your preference is for more traditional fruits such as apples, oranges and berries, or more exotic selections such as pineapples, mangoes and papayas, potential combinations are limited only by the imagination. In dairy-free smoothies, the inclusion of bananas in addition to other selected fruits helps to achieve a rich, creamy texture without milk or yogurt.
Adding a handful of vegetables, such as baby spinach, kale or carrots to smoothies is another way to increase the nutritional profile of a drink without dairy. In fact, greens such as spinach and kale contain a great deal of bioavailable calcium, replacing the need for milk in non-dairy smoothies. The sweet flavor of the fruit will overpower any scant bitterness from the vegetables, making it easy to sneak in extra servings of vegetables without sitting down to eat a salad.
Nuts and Nut Butters
To substitute for the rich taste of the fat in cow's milk, nuts and nut butter are good additions to dairy-free smoothies. Nuts and nut butters are actually more beneficial, because they contain healthy unsaturated fats as opposed to the saturated fat in cow's milk and yogurt. They also provide protein. The choices are no longer limited to traditional peanut butter -- almond, cashew, macadamia, walnut, soy nut and pecan butters are all readily available. For those with nut allergies, sunflower or pumpkin seed butters are viable alternatives.
Sara Miller specializes in health and wellness, diet/nutrition and organic living. She holds a Master of Public Health with a concentration in behavioral sciences and health promotion. Miller also earned a graduate certificate in health education.