Citrus fruit such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes aren’t just great for snacks or enhancing your latest dressing or sauce recipe. They’re also packed with a vast nutritional profile, so they’re important foods to add to your smoothies in addition to other healthy ingredients that you use.  And while oranges are a commonly used fruit since they have a familiar and appealing taste that pairs well with ingredients like bananas, strawberries and apples, other citrus fruits should be considered too. Depending on the fruit used, all citrus fruits offer special benefits that can enhance the flavor and nutrient uptake of the other ingredients used in any smoothie recipe. For instance, lemons. These are not a common go-to fruit for smoothies, but their high vitamin C content can improve how much iron your body absorbs from iron-rich foods such as spinach, kale, or seeds such as pumpkin, chia and hemp seeds. Lemons’ high enzyme content also improves stomach acid levels necessary for digestion and aid in alkalizing the body. Citrus fruits’ flavor also enhances the taste of the greens, other fruits, and even superfoods like cacao, maca, goji and acai berries you might put in your smoothies.

Choose any citrus fruit you enjoy and add them to your next smoothie, such as these recipe ideas below. They’re excellent fruits to help reduce stress due to their high vitamin C content and will help keep your lymphatic system healthy by flushing out toxins naturally. Just be sure to cut off the peels since they can be bitter. (Non-organic peels can also be coated with pesticides.)

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Here are five recipes to start with!

1. Strawberry Lemonade Green Smoothie

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Kathy/Flickr

This smoothie has a classic flavor with a large amount of fiber, good dose or iron and magnesium, and plenty of folate and vitamin C. Blend this up next time you want some extra energy and immune-boosting properties!

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup plain coconut or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • (optional): add 1 scoop your favorite plant-based vanilla protein powder

Directions: Blend, serve and enjoy chilled!

Benefits: Spinach is rich in vitamin C and iron, along with magnesium and folate. Strawberries provide your entire day’s needs for vitamin C in just a 1 cup serving, and are lower in sugar than many other fruits. Chia seeds will help boost the iron content even more, along with provide more staying power. They’re also a great source of calcium to keep your bones healthy. The lemon juice brings out the sweetness from the strawberries and will aid in digestion of all the other ingredients.

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2. Pineapple Grapefruit Kale Smoothie

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Tracy B/Flickr

Kale can sometimes be bitter when used in a smoothie recipe, but when used with sweet fruits like pineapple, the green taste is hardly noticeable. Grapefruit is added to this smoothie to add a sweet, yet tart burst of citrus that compliments the sweetness from the pineapple. Grapefruits are also low on the glycemic index and aid in digestion. Give this smoothie a try for a light breakfast or healthy snack!

Ingredients:

  • 1 grapefruit (peeled and seeded)
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 2 cups loose leaf kale (choose curly kale for less bitterness)
  • 1 cup organic unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 a frozen banana
  • (optional): add 1 scoop your favorite plant-based vanilla protein powder

Directions: Blend, serve and enjoy!

Benefits: Grapefruit is renowned for fighting off colds and improving immunity, while pineapple is great for fighting joint pain and aiding digestion. Kale is high in iron, magnesium, and B vitamins, which are absorbed more easily from the enzymes from the pineapple and grapefruit. Grapefruits contain 64 percent of your daily vitamin C needs in just one fruit, which will also improve how much iron your body absorbs from the kale and chia seeds used here.

3. Orange, Raspberry and Romaine

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K.Kendall/Flickr

Think romaine lettuce is just for salads? Think again! It’s a great milder green to use in smoothies and is one of the most overlooked sources of vitamin C. Romaine is also a natural source of omega 3 fatty acids. It also has 107 percent of your daily Vitamin K needs in just 2 cups to keep your bones and blood healthy. Oranges’ high vitamin C and vitamin B6 content reduce stress, while their calcium content also improves your bone health. They’re a great citrus fruit to pair vitamin C-rich berries such as raspberries, which are also high in fiber, antioxidants, and very low in sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange (peeled and seeded)
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 head romaine lettuce (rinsed and core removed)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla plant-based protein powder
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • sweetener of choice (such as a date, liquid stevia or 1/4 a frozen banana)

Directions: Blend, serve and enjoy!

Benefits: This smoothie is a great recipe if you’re looking to increase your bone health. Since it’s also high in vitamin C thanks to the citrus, raspberries and the romaine, it makes a fantastic go-to recipe if you’re fighting off a cold. You can either use a plant-based protein powder for extra sustenance as the recipe calls for or substitute with some hemp seeds for additional iron, magnesium and a natural source of protein as well.

4. Lime and Cherry Chia Smoothie

 

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Though not your typical green smoothie, this delightful drink is still high in iron, magnesium, and vitamin C. It doesn’t feature leafy greens like the other recipes, but instead it uses the tart (but addicting) flavor of fresh limes, along with frozen cherries and chia seeds. If you love cherry limeade drinks and want a healthier option, this is your go-to recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 2 limes peeled
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 3 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup your choice non-dairy unsweetened vanilla milk
  • optional: sweetener of choice (liquid stevia is the most neutral, but a date or banana can be used too)

Directions: Blend, serve and enjoy!

Benefits: Cherries are a fantastic source of vitamin C and also help regulate your blood sugar thanks to their high fiber content. Tart cherries are higher in antioxidants and lower in sugar than sweet cherries, though both are a great option. Limes are also a great source of vitamin C, providing 31 percent of your daily needs per fruit. They’re also low on the glycemic index and like lemons, offer anti-carcinogenic benefits.  Chia’s high iron, magnesium, and healthy fats content will help make this smoothie more energizing, sustaining, and boost the uptake of nutrients from the cherries and limes.

5. Lemon Coconut Maca Green Smoothie

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liz west/Flickr

If you need energy and immune-boosting properties (along with some hormone and metabolism-boosting benefits), this smoothie has your name all over it! Lemons are great to help cleanse the body naturally and boost liver function. Coconut also provides benefits for the liver and is easily digested unlike some other fats. Paired together they have an incredibly sweet flavor that’s reminiscent of an indulgent dessert! The maca used here also adds in balancing the blood sugar, boosts hormone function, reduces stress, and offers up 18 of the 20 necessary amino acids you need for good health.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened organic coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 tbsp. raw coconut butter
  • 1 tbsp. raw maca powder
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • liquid sweetener of choice
  • optional: 1 scoop vanilla plant-based protein powder

Directions: Blend, serve and enjoy!

Benefits:Spinach is one of the best sources of natural protein you can get and one of the highest sources of vitamin C. It’s also packed with folate which is important for your metabolism. Lemon’s vitamin C and enzyme content will help boost the absorption and utilization of the iron in spinach, along with the natural amino acids in the maca. Finally, coconut butter will improve your mood, digestion, and absorption of the vitamin A and E in spinach, which are fat-soluble vitamins that are best consumed with healthy fats.

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Give these recipe a shot this week and feel free to add in some of your own favorite ingredients. Spring is a great time to add more citrus to your diet. These fruits’ natural acids, enzymes and vitamin C content help promote a clean, healthy and energetic body the way nature intended. They also counteract the inflammation we often suffer from seasonal allergies and dampened immune systems from being indoors during the winter.

See more smoothie recipes ideas here, and tips on making your smoothies extra thick and frosty here!

Lead Image Source: Vanessa P./Flickr