It is officially summer! I don’t know about you, but over the summer I crave all of the hydrating fruits and vegetables. What better way to eat your fruits and veggies, but in a smoothie?
Smoothies are a staple for me. However, not all smoothies are created equal. My biggest pet peeve is going into a seemingly healthy smoothie shop only to see that their smoothies are basically the equivalent of froyo. In this post, I wanted to lay a foundation of how to build a great, healthy smoothie. You can mix and match ingredients to your taste preferences, or you can check out the Smoothies Tab on my blog for a variety of different smoothie recipes.
Key Smoothie Ingredients:
The key to a perfect smoothie is using frozen fruit. Whether you buy it frozen or buy it fresh and freeze it is up to you. However, using fresh fruit and ice is not the equivalent of buying frozen produce.
Bananas are one of the sweetest fruits and frozen bananas give smoothies an ice cream-like texture and flavor. Use 1 frozen banana or 1/2 frozen banana in a smoothie recipe for a richer, sweeter flavor. If you prefer a lower-sugar smoothie, try using frozen berries. Stick to 1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen berries.
I like to make smoothies that contain a lot of veggies for the ultimate benefits. Another common misconception and smoothie mistake is that smoothies need to be made of mostly fruit, but they don’t have to be! You can make a lower sugar smoothie with just 1/4 cup frozen berries, veggies, fat, protein/flavors, and nondairy milk of your choice!
You do not need a ton of fruit to build a great smoothie. I like using fruit in smoothies, but I like the majority of my smoothie to consist of vegetables.
For veggies, one of my favorite adds is frozen riced cauliflower. That is because it adds bulk and texture to the smoothie, but no flavor. Leafy greens such as spinach or kale are also great in a smoothie, but won’t add a lot of bulk. Frozen beets are another great addition to smoothies. I love adding frozen beets because they taste naturally sweet and give the smoothie a fun, bright pink color.
Fat & Fiber
Avocados are technically a fruit, but I loop them in the fat category for the purpose of building a smoothie. If using avocado as a fat in the smoothie, I only advise adding 1/4-1/2 of an avocado, any more and the smoothie would contain way too much fat. I like adding avocado to smoothies because it makes the texture thick and creamy plus has the added benefits of fiber.
In addition to avocados, I love nut and seed butters. Peanut butter, almond butter, and sunflower seed butter are all great additions. However, not all nut/seed butters are made the same. Opt for an all natural nut/seed butter without added oils or sugars.
Chia and flax seeds are also great to add for additional fiber. Chia and flax seeds will make the smoothie taste more filling and satisfying.
I personally love cinnamon. Cinnamon has a naturally sweet flavor and may help balance blood sugar. I add cinnamon to almost all of my smoothies. I also love and use cacao powder often. Cacao powder, although it tastes bitter by itself, when combined with a frozen banana it makes the smoothie tastes like chocolate ice cream.
Chocolate and vanilla-flavored protein powders are great also great smoothie adds for added protein. It may take a few tries to find brands of protein powders that have ingredients that you love and also taste great. Right now, I’m personally loving Garden of Life and Liv Well Nutrition chocolate and vanilla flavored protein powders.
The last key ingredient to build a great smoothie is the liquid to blend it all together. I do use coconut water in some of my sweeter, more hydrating smoothies, such as my Green Goddess Smoothie. In the majority of my smoothies I use unsweetened, plain almond milk. You can use store bought or try making your own almond milk. If you have a nut allergy, or don’t like almond milk, any nondairy milk substitute will work.
The portion of the nondairy milk that you add will change the consistency of the smoothie. If you add about 1 cup of nondairy milk to your smoothie in a high-power blender (I use my Vitamix), you will make a thick, smoothie, which can be eaten in a bowl with a spoon. If you prefer to drink your smoothie through a straw, add additional liquid to get a thinner texture.