Smoothies are the favored way to enjoy berries, be they fresh or frozen. Whether it's berry season and fresh blackberries and blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are coming out everyone's ears or berry season is long gone, but freezers are full of efforts to make it last (to freeze your own see How to Freeze Berries).
This recipe makes a single smoothie, but it easily doubles or triples or more—the batch limit depends only on the size of your blender. Importantly, this "recipe" is as much a template as anything. Despite the name "mixed berry smoothie," you should feel free to use just one type of berry if that's what you like or what you have on hand.
Note: Frozen berries will create a naturally thickened smoothie. For the same chilly effect with fresh berries, just toss in 2 or 3 ice cubes.
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth. Really let it whirl to get it smooth—this may take 2 minutes, which will seem like a long time to leave something in a blender, but the smooth texture at the end is totally worth it. (Note: This level of ultra-smoothness is difficult to achieve if you've decided to use blackberries, their stubborn hulls don't break down too easily.)
If you're not using frozen berries and want to add a couple of ice cubes to thicken things up, get the greatest thickening effect by adding them one at a time, with the blender running, and whirling each one until it's fully incorporated. It takes a bit of extra time, but the true "smoothie" texture that results is worth it.
Pour into a tall glass and serve immediately.
* Use whatever kind of yogurt you prefer, obviously, but the berry flavor will shine through best if the yogurt doesn't have other flavorings in it. Nonfat and low-fat yogurt are fine, but a whole milk yogurt will lead to the creamiest, most satisfying smoothie.
Make It Milky. For a creamier, less fruity smoothie, use milk, soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk instead of the orange juice.
Make It Vegan. Use a whole, peeled banana in place of the yogurt to thicken things up. Other tropical fruits can play this role too, including mangos and papayas. Plus, papaya adds a frothy element when you whip it up in a blender like this.
Make It Minty. Adding a couple of fresh mint leaves to berry smoothies takes them from delicious to "what is in this?!?!?!" Yum!
Make It Protein-Packed. Add a tablespoon or two of almond butter for a thicker smoothie with some extra protein in it, along with a lovely nutty flavor.
Make It Protein-Packed II. Add 2 to 4 ounces of soft tofu. It adds body and plenty of protein to the smoothie and hardly affects the flavor at all.
Make It a Bit Green. Sounds odd, but if you want to work some more greens into your diet, know that a handful of spinach is barely detectable amid all the berry flavor going on here—although it will dull the color of the smoothie quite a bit, so it's not a great way to "sneak" greens into someone else's diet!