Columnist, Food

Ellie Krieger’s Cherry Berry Smoothie Bowl. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

It must be more than a coincidence that in the heat of summer, when we most need refreshment and hydration, the plumpest, most water-rich fruit is ripe for the picking — berries, cherries, grapes, melons, peaches and plums — all plentiful, sweet, dripping with juice and exactly what you crave on a sweltering day.

The fruit is wonderful eaten as is, still warm from the summer sun. But chilling it bumps the refreshment factor up a notch. (What’s a better picnic treat than cut melon pulled from an icy cooler?) Freezing the fruit takes the cooling effect a step further and invites a swirl of frosty options, not to mention how it preserves the seasonal bounty for months to come.

Just put frozen fruit in a blender, pour in enough milk to cover it, and you have the base of a frothy, drinkable smoothie; add a tiny bit of liquid instead — enough to get the mix whirring — and you wind up with a sorbetlike frozen dessert. Split the difference and you get the makings of a smoothie bowl: a frosty fruit puree that is so thick you can top it with all kinds of fun, healthful ingredients and eat it with a spoon.

This version is a mix of cherries, for a brilliant red, summery essence, and ripe banana, which provides enough sweetness that you don’t need added sugar. The fruits are frozen and blended with low-fat milk (you could substitute almond, coconut or soy milk if you prefer) and an aromatic hint of vanilla until smooth and spoonable, then poured into a bowl and topped with an array of colors, tastes and textures: juicy berries, chewy coconut, and crunchy, protein-rich almonds and chia seeds.

It’s one of those recipes you can freely play around with, using any mix of fruit, nut and seed toppings you like, for a breakfast or snack that’s satisfying and refreshingly different.

food@washpost.com

Krieger’s most recent cookbook is “Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.