Pumpkin spice season has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some cold-weather spice for a little longer. Many vegans enjoy an energizing smoothie for breakfast, but during the coldest months of the year it can be hard to keep them interesting. There’s no reason to skip out on your smoothie when the temperatures dip; there are plenty of ways to customize your daily drink to the winter climate and to what is available in your local food market. Don’t fret—we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves to get you through (spoiler alert: add spice). With these five tips, you’ll find yourself mixing and matching winter-worthy smoothies in no time.
1. Freeze your summer fruit.
In the colder months, the fruit at the market isn’t always the freshest. If you love creamy, sweet, fruit-based smoothies, consider flash-freezing fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and bananas in late summer when these fruits are ripe. We recommend placing berries or banana slices in a single layer on a sheet pan. Freeze them on the pan and store them in freezer-proof plastic baggies or glass containers. These should last up to four months. Just add the frozen fruit to your blender along with non-dairy milk and a little agave nectar. The extra liquid will help the fruit regain their original texture, as freezing often dries them out. You can also try canned fruits, but these often are loaded with extra sugars and syrups. Frozen is the best way to maintain the health and natural state of berries and fruits.
2. Add seasonal spices.
Dried spices are terrific for warming you up on a winter morning. Not only will they provide your smoothie with a seasonal kick, but they are also good for you. Try adding cinnamon to a fruit smoothie. Chai spice blend—a mixture of ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom—is delicious in a green or matcha tea smoothie with a little almond milk and a pinch of sugar. Peppermint is perfect for a mint-chocolate smoothie. Nutmeg goes well with a winter squash or vegan eggnog smoothie (a perfect way to finish off those holiday leftovers!). Find ways to mix and match spices to your smoothies to give them an extra kick and to change things up. Even savory spices like cayenne can add a fun twist to a dark chocolate or coffee smoothie. Be creative!
3. Need a boost? Add coffee.
Do you sometimes need a pick-me-up during a long winter day? Save some of your morning brew of coffee to add to your afternoon wake-up smoothie. You can also experiment with exotic blends or use your own instant coffee. A smoothie made with coffee, coconut cream, and bananas is a treat and will be sure to give you an afternoon or morning energy boost. Coffee also pairs well with cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, and chocolate. There are many ways to make a cold-brew smoothie with various flavors. Consider making some vegan whipped cream from coconut milk to create a frappé-style shake.
4. Fill up with pumpkin purée.
We said that pumpkin spice season has come and gone, but in reality, pumpkin shouts of winter. You can make your own purée from roasted pumpkin or butternut squash and freeze it in small containers for use in smoothies. It is also fine to use canned purée or purée in individual pouches for babies. Pumpkin purée is naturally creamy and thick. Add a little vegan milk to thin it out and sweeten it with pure maple syrup. Add pumpkin pie spices for a warming kick. Many of the spices listed above work well with pumpkin, and coconut whipped cream will give it that holiday kick. Pumpkin is especially great when you want something filling and satisfying to carry you through the day.
5. Mix it up with cocoa or carob.
If you’re in the mood for chocolate, blend cacao or carob powder with water or nut milk and berries, and sweeten with a pinch of stevia. This will give you a boost after a morning workout or a long work meeting. Dark vegan chocolate bits can also be stirred in to add texture and variety to an otherwise standard smoothie. This is also a great way to use up leftover holiday candies and sweets that you perhaps don’t want to leave around your house to tempt you. Cocoa powder can also be paired with coffee, cinnamon, and coconut cream.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger who loves a great smoothie mix-in.