Summer is, of course, the perfect time of year for adding fresh berries to your diet. Besides being yummy, berries are also high in vitamin C – important for a strong immune system.

strawberry plant, vegetable gardening

One of our little strawberry plants

I’ve started growing my own strawberries in our backyard. Starting with six small plants my neighbor so graciously gifted me with, I’ve been able to pick a handful of those bright red drops of goodness. One day, I hope to pick them by the pint-full for smoothie making! (And hopefully find space for a few blackberry bushes, too.)

Until then, some store-bought organic berries (or even better, locally picked) will do the trick. Today I came up with a delicious smoothie using fresh ingredients that combine the power of vitamin C with protein, calcium, and healthy fat. Though it has a dark purple hue when blended (thanks to the blackberries), you may not realize that it also boasts oh-so-good-for-you leafy greens, as well as healthy fat (avocado), which helps the body better absorb the nutrients from those greens and converts them to Vitamin A. Give it a try – recipe below!

dana mook, personal trainer, charlottesville, smoothie recipe

So yummy! (And yes, I’m a proud Appy State grad!)

Dana’s Green Mixed Berry Smoothie

1/2 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1 cup baby spinach
1/4 cup avocado
1/2 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup almond milk
1 packet (about 1/2 tsp) stevia
1 cup ice

Throw it all in the blender. Blend and enjoy!

This recipe makes a 24 oz smoothie, with 270 calories, 19 g of protein, and 9 g fat. I used original (sweetened) almond milk in mine, but you may be able to reduce your calorie total by using the unsweetened variety and adjusting with more stevia (0 calories) for flavor.

I love this smoothie as a breakfast drink and for post-workout recovery. To save time, you can also make these ahead in batches – buy the produce in bulk, and throw the portions into individual freezer bags. Add the yogurt, milk, and stevia when you’re ready to blend. Substitute the ice for a bit of water to loosen up the ingredients.

Your turn: What is your favorite berry?