The weather is getting warmer. I don’t know about you, but the warmer weather makes me crave all of the hydrating fruits and vegetables. What better way to eat your fruits and veggies, than in a smoothie? Smoothies are a staple for me. However, not all smoothies are equally nutritious. 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 will discuss how to build a nutritious smoothie. You can mix and match ingredients based on your taste preferences, or you can check out my smoothie recipes at the link here.
Key Smoothie Ingredients:
The key to a perfect smoothie is using frozen fruit. Whether you buy frozen fruit or buy fresh fruit and freeze it, is up to you. However, using fresh fruit and ice is not the equivalent of using frozen produce.
Bananas are one of the sweetest-tasting fruits and frozen bananas give smoothies an ice cream-like texture and flavor. Use one frozen banana or a half frozen banana in a smoothie for a richer, sweeter flavor. If you prefer a lower-sugar smoothie, try using 1/4 to 1/2 cup of frozen berries instead.
I like to make smoothies that contain a lot of veggies. A common smoothie misconception is that smoothies need to be made of mostly fruit, but they don’t have to be! You do not need a ton of fruit to build a nutritious smoothie. I like using fruit in smoothies, but I like the majority of my smoothie to consist of vegetables.
One of my favorite veggies to add to smoothies is frozen riced cauliflower. I love using frozen riced cauliflower because it adds bulk to the smoothie and gives it a creamy texture, but adds no flavor. Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are also great to add to smoothies. However, leafy greens won’t add a lot of bulk to the smoothie and will give the smoothie a greenish color. 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. I prefer 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 help make the smoothie more filling and satisfying.
I personally love cinnamon. Cinnamon has a naturally sweet flavor and I add it to almost all of my smoothies. I also love and use cacao powder often. Cacao powder tastes bitter by itself. However, when combined with a frozen banana, it gives the smoothie a chocolate ice cream- like taste.
Chocolate and vanilla-flavored protein powders can be added to smoothies 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 nutritious 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. However,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