One of the challenges of a Vegan diet is getting enough protein. Fruit smoothies are a delicious way to combine the quick energy boost of fructose (sugar) and the long-lasting energy of fiber-rich fruit.

My son Scott is a special needs child who relies completely on a diet of Vegan smoothies. Since he cannot chew, all his nutritional needs must be met through his smoothies. Over the years I have experimented with many recipes and combinations to create interesting, tasty and nutritious smoothies.

The fruit is one of the main ingredients in a smoothie. Fruit may be used in multiple ways: as the liquid, frozen juice substituted for ice, homemade sorbet for the ice, or just pureed as part of the smoothie.

So what the best way to juice fruit for a Vegan smoothie? First, look at the kitchen appliances you have. Do you have a juicer, a blender or a smoothie maker? How powerful are the motors in these appliances?

I will discuss juicers, first. In general, the more expensive juicers do a better job of separating the juice from the pulp and hard fruit like apples do better than soft fruit like peaches and bananas. I have two juicers: a large powerful stainless, steel machine made by Oster. It is over 15 years old and still works like new. The other machine I received as a gift. It is smaller and not as powerful. It works, but not as efficiently. If you are buying a juicer and plan to use it on a daily basis, buy the best you can afford. It really makes a difference.

Whichever type of juicer you have, cleaning is a pain. I use a child's size toothbrush to scrub all the peel out of the juicing mechanism. Thi smust be done everytime I use my juicer.

Juicers do a good job of separating the juice from the pulp. I have found that if you are juicing different kinds of fruit, do the soft fruits like bananas first. Use the low speed. Then use the hard fruit like apples and pears. Finish with oranges which have thin juice that will get all the lingering juice out of the machine.

As a rule of thumb, I prefer to freeze bananas and mangos and other soft fruit before juicing. Bananas can be frozen unpeeled. The outside will turn black, but the fruit inside is perfect. Apples, pears, grapes, nectarines, plums and peaches can be cut into chunks and tossed in the juicer. Just before to remove the pits!

Once you have the juice, you can freeze it for future use. Pour the juice into ice cube trays to freeze. You can remove the frozen cubes and place in a freezer bag for long-term storage. This is helpful if you have just purchased a bushel of fruit at the local farmer's market.

To make a smoothie, I prefer a blender. Following your recipe, or using your creative culinary skills, toss in all the ingredients, blend for about a minute and a half then enjoy!

Here are some of my favorite smoothie recipes:

Mango Banana Protein Smoothie

A great way to start the day; the sugars in the fruit give your morning a jolt of energy without the jitters of caffeine.

  • 8 oz. vanilla soy milk
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ½ cup frozen mango juice or about 6 cubes
  • 1 scoop banana flavored soy protein powder

Blend fruit with soy milk for 4 5seconds or until smooth, add protein powder and whirl for another 30 seconds. Enjoy!

Orange Nectarine Carrot Smoothie

I like the color of this smoothie. I leave the peel on for more fiber but if you refer, you can peel it.

  • 1 large nectarine
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 scoop unflavored soy protein powder
  • 1 tsp fiber, Miralax (optional)

Run the nectarine, carrot and oranges though the juicer. Put the juices, ice, protein powder and fiber, if using in blender and process for 2 minutes or until smooth.

Scott's Favorite Smoothie

  • 1 8 oz can Pediasure
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 1 one inch cube papaya
  • 1 scoop banana flavored soy protein powder
  • 1 squirt chocolate syrup
  • 1 tsp Miralax

Process all ingredients until smooth. Yummy!