(SD-SP) Summer is near and that means it’s time to sip on the ultimate refresher – smoothies! There are nearly infinite combinations that can be made for a fulfilling, healthy and delicious meal replacement, snack or treat. Here are some news ways to “supercharge” smoothies to maximize their benefits.

Save the Strawberry

Strawberries, a nutritious and healthy fruit relatively low in sugar, are especially delicious in the summer – even their tops. The green leaves of a strawberry are perfectly safe to eat and may provide added benefits. Throwing them whole into a blender can not only save you a step a prep but also give you additional bioactive natural products, according to research in the journal antioxidants. In fact, strawberry leaves can be a wonderful substitute or even complement to kale!

Spoon It Out

If you want to change up sipping a smoothie from a straw, blend it into a bowl. Acai is a popular “base” ingredient that gives bowls a vibrant purple color – but you can also use just about any fruit as a base, including dragon fruit (also known as pitaya) for a hot pink color, coconut or banana. You can play around with your bases and have a lot of fun with toppings – including drizzles of honey, shaved coconut, chia seeds, granola, nuts and even more sliced fruit. You can’t go wrong with anything you choose!

Sprinkle in Supplements

Smoothies are a perfect vessel for consuming supplements that can easily be blended in for a splash of flavor and additional health benefits. Already using cacao powder due to its reported benefits and natural chocolate flavor?  Then try swapping that out for the supplement, CocoaVia™ Heart & Brain Powder. Each serving of CocoaVia™ contains 450 mg cocoa flavanols, which increa­­se your body’s natural supply of nitric oxide – a supermolecule that allows arteries to relax and widen, promoting healthy blood flow. This allows your organs, muscles, and tiss­ues to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need so you can perform at your best. The unsweetened dark chocolate powder contains only 20 calories per serving and no added sugar, delivering the highest concentration of cocoa flavanols in a powder supplement. For comparison, in order to achieve that cocoa flavanol count with the leading cacao powder, you’d need to consume 10 servings!

Simplify Snack Time

Just because they’re healthy doesn’t mean smoothies are limited to grownups –  a lot of kids love them too! Now that summer is here and kids are on the go even more, simplify snack time with a smoothie in a straw or sippy cup. Portable, flavorful, easy – and you may also even be able to sneak in some spinach – sounds like a win!

Need inspiration for the ultimate supercharged smoothies? Check out these recipes for smoothies like chocolate peanut butter, blueberry, chai tea and more.