Dairy-free smoothies are blended fruit drinks, usually served semi-frozen, that contain no milk or milk-derived products. They are usually made in a blender, and are a combination of both solids and liquids. At least some of the solids are frozen, usually either frozen fruit chunks or ice cubes. Health 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.
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 shy away from all milk-related products. This means that they exclude yogurts and milk as well as milk-derived products like whey protein.
There are a great many varieties of dairy-free smoothies. Most include some combination of fruits, juice, and ice. Some smoothies follow recipes, but the drinks can easily be made with any ingredients that happen to be on hand. Fruits like bananas are popular, as are berries of all varieties. Tropical fruits, including pineapple and mango, are common as well.
Much of a dairy-free smoothie’s ingredients depend on the aims of the consumer. If the goal is simply to enjoy a refreshing fruit drink, adding sweeteners like sugar or honey are widely accepted. When the goal is nutrition, meal replacement, or weight loss, other supplements often enter the scene. Fortified soy milk is a popular addition to dairy-free smoothies for the health conscious, as are leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale. Health food advocates often seek to pack as many nutrients and antioxidants into the blender as they can.
Athletes are common smoothie consumers, but often prefer milk-free versions. Avoiding milk products before a workout is one way of preventing lactic acid buildup in the muscles, which can lead to cramping and diminished performance. Dairy-free smoothies are also particularly suitable for individuals with lactose sensitivities or lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a medical condition that prevents people from being able to properly process a particular sugar compound found in most milk products.
Eating dairy-free is also a part of the vegan lifestyle and diet. Vegans avoid all animal products, which means that dairy-free foods are a must. Not all smoothies that have no dairy are necessarily vegan-friendly, though. Sweeteners like honey must also be avoided.
Dairy-free smoothies are easy to make at home, but are also available commercially. 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 medley of frozen fruit pieces that can be added directly to a blender along with some kind of liquid, either milk or juice in most cases. These may not be overtly labeled as dairy-free, but can be used to make dairy-free smoothies by controlling what is added.
Some prepackaged beverages are also marketed as dairy-free smoothies. This kind of drink is usually in the refrigerated beverage section of many specialty supermarkets. Most of the time, pre-mixed products are more like enriched fruit juices than they are actual smoothies: they may be blended and may contain a lot of nutrients, but they are not frozen. Preservatives and sugars may also have been added. The “smoothie” name is often used to conjure the health benefits of more traditional smoothies, but in general, this is a very different sort of drink.