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    Improvise With Smoothies continued...

    The base determines the smoothie's flavor. Light vanilla ice cream is often her choice because calories are low -- about 110 -- and it contains nearly 4 grams of fat. "You need some fat, so the smoothie is satisfying, and a balance of nutrients, so it gets metabolized over time." If you have diabetes, nonfat frozen yogurt with no sugar added is best, Magee explains.

    Chocolate syrup or cocoa is a nice touch. "If you want health benefits -- without extra fat and sugar -- choose cocoa. Nonfat frozen yogurt would work well with cocoa," Magee tells WebMD.

    Cocoa is actually quite healthy in other ways, studies show. Like dark chocolate, cocoa contains lots of epicatechin, a particularly active type of flavonoid -- which keeps cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduces the risk of blood clots, and slows down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries.

    As for fruit choices, "they are limitless, and it's creative to experiment," Magee says. "At the market, I never know what's going to look good. I stay open to what is available. Plus, I always have frozen berries on hand. I don't really like bananas, but I like them in a smoothie. A banana adds sweetness and thickening to a smoothie."

    Magee won't use protein powders. "When you add powders, it can change the texture quite a bit. I'm more inclined to add true food. I add soft tofu or soy milk instead of soy powder." Regular low-fat milk or egg substitute(not raw eggs) also add protein.

    Soy nut butter tastes somewhat like regular peanut butter and is a good source of protein, she says. "A child won't likely notice the difference -- if you blend half soy butter and half regular peanut butter. It's pretty thick but if you have a good blender, you should do fine."

    Other Additives

    "One of my favorite foods is ground flaxseed," Magee tells WebMD. "You can buy ground flaxseed and keep it in the freezer. One tablespoon a day is considered safe and effective. In a tall smoothie glass, that's the amount you would add. Flaxseed contains lots of phytoestrogens; it's a top plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, and is one-half soluble fiber."

    Wheat germ contains vitamin E and B, and can be easily slipped into a smoothie, she says. However she draws the line there with the additives. "Personally I wouldn't play around with bee pollen. You don't want to take B vitamins by themselves. I like to use the whole food."

    Finally, you don't want to go overboard with ingredients. Keep it simple; that's the key to summer drinks.

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