Smoothie of the Month: Pomegranate and Red Berries

When making a smoothie, it's often a good idea to think about the color as well as the nutritional value and flavor of the final drink. Instead of throwing everything into the blender and ending up with an odd-colored smoothie that doesn't taste much of anything, it's helpful to stick to a theme. In this case I chose red fruits -- pomegranate, strawberries, raspberries and goji berries -- for a tasty and pretty result.

These fruits are high on the recommended list of antioxidant-rich foods, especially goji berries and pomegranates. I like knowing that I'm getting a good dose of these super foods early in the day, and a smoothie is a great way to tick them off the list.

The flavor of this berry-packed smoothie is tart yet sweet and not for the faint of heart: Though somewhat mellowed by a couple of dates, frozen banana and almonds, fresh pomegranate juice is sour. To tame its intensity, you might like to add a little raw honey or a splash of almond or soy milk.

Pomegranate and Red Berries Smoothie

Serves 2

This recipe makes two cups -- usually a good amount for breakfast. But since its flavor is quite tart, I prefer it in small amounts as a little mid-morning boost. You can juice pomegranates the same way you would oranges: Just press out as much juice from the seeds as possible. Soaking the almonds overnight and adding them to the mix eliminates the step of making almond milk as you are essentially creating it directly in the smoothie.

2 tablespoons goji berries soaked in 2 tablespoons water for an hour or up to overnight

1/3 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight in 1 cup of water
½ cup fresh pomegranate juice (from 1 pomegranate)
6 large frozen strawberries
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
2 Medjool dates, pitted
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½  frozen banana
Pomegranate seeds, to garnish

Place goji berries and soaking liquid in an upright blender. Drain and rinse almonds and add them to the blender along with pomegranate juice, strawberries, raspberries, dates and vanilla. Blend until smooth, pour into glasses and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.

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