Five Great Smoothie Traditions

As temperatures are heating up, it is tempting to grab a frothy ice cream-based drink to combat the heat. Instead of cooling down with a milkshake, choose a healthy smoothie. Smoothies can be surprisingly filling and lush with fruit and protein. Around the world, smoothies are a popular summer beverage. Check out these five great smoothie traditions for some inspiration.

1. Moroccan Date Smoothie: In Morocco, dates and cashews get blended with milk and crushed ice. Although Moroccan dates are especially succulent, the real deal is difficult to find in the States. Even without authentic Moroccan ingredients, this sweet blend delivers enough protein and fiber to propel you through your day. Try Medjool dates for a fantastic alternative to the imported fruit.

2. Indian Mango Lassi: Yogurt beverages called lassi are common lunchtime fare in India and Pakistan. While many Indians drink a lassi with added salt, most Americans are more familiar with a sweeter drink served in Indian restaurants. Pick out ripe champagne mangos, cut off the flesh, and process with yogurt, water or milk, and ice in a blender. Incredibly refreshing and guilt-free.

3. Brazilian Juice: At sucos, or juice bars, Brazilians enjoy a summer treat: fresh-squeeze fruit. Not technically a smoothie, Brazilian-style juice is still a delicious drink to try at home. In the morning, Brazilians add guarana, a caffeinated berry-substitute it for coffee!

4. Dominican Papaya Smoothie: Papayas can be intimidating to cook with, since the flavor is a foreign addition to many American palates. This Dominican speciality will make you a papaya convert, though. Milk, papaya and lime are the main ingredients, and it sure beats out a papaya drink from a hot dog stand. Try this recipe for starters and then tweak the combination to make it your own.

5. Korean Misutgaru: Steamed, roasted, and ground grains make up misutgaru, a kind of Korean flour usually made from rice. With water, milk, and a little fruit, misutgaru makes a nutty smoothie. Cafe Americano in Los Angeles serves a smoothie with Misutgaru blended in, creating a protein-packed smoothie rich with cereal-like flavors according to VitalJuice.com.

What's your favorite type of smoothie? Don't have a favorite? Start with this Green Smoothie Recipe for Weight Loss.

Photo: Jose Carlos Cortizo Perez on flickr

How To Make Your Own Yogurt

How To

Yogurt is a hot commodity on grocery store shelves-over the past year, thick and creamy Greek-style yogurt has become a go-to healthy snack. Instead of shelling out extra money on yogurt, try making your own.

The basic yogurt making process forces proteins in milk to gel, forming structures that lend yogurt its smooth mouth-feel. In order to induce those proteins to transform into a "gel matrix," you need two basic ingredients: milk and "culture." Culture, which contains yogurt's "good" bacteria, can be purchased freeze-dried. In a pinch, you can also use any supermarket yogurt that possesses "live active cultures." Then, when you make yogurt again you can use a little bit of the old batch as your culture.

1. Heat the milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. During the heating stage, add any flavoring agents or sweeteners-a touch of honey brings out a nice richness. Keep the milk at this temperature for 10 minutes. 2. Cool the milk down to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Placing the pot in a ice-water bath helps. 3. Add the culture. For the culture to grow, the temperature must remain below 115 degrees. Otherwise, the bacteria die. 4. Put the young yogurt into jars. 5. Incubate. The culture needs to remain at that constant 110 degree point for around 8 hours. Special insulated containers facilitate this incubation period. Or just fill a slow cooker with 110 degree warm water and place the jars in the water. 6. Refrigerate and eat. After 8 hours, the yogurt should be thick enough to consume.

Top your fresh yogurt with granola and spring fruits, or try this delicious smoothie. For a special treat, make your own granola and then make a sumptuous breakfast parfait.