Smoothies can be a great option for breakfast or a snack; they are quick to whip up, require few ingredients, and can be sipped on-the-go. Anything referred to as a “smoothie” is often thought of as a healthy beverage. However, not all smoothies are created equal. Smoothies sold at popular chain restaurants are often made with ice cream, whole milks, sweeteners, and fruit juice blends with added sugar.
How can we avoid this smoothie trap? If you are a frequent visitor of smoothie stands, do a little research on ingredients and nutrition facts before making your smoothie choice. Many popular smoothie chains offer a “light” or “fit” smoothies that are lower in calories and/or made with no added sugar.
The best option is to make your own smoothie at home.
Making smoothies at home has many benefits. You can control the ingredients, drink them immediately while still fresh, and you don’t have to use disposable smoothie cups. Here are the key building blocks to a satisfying smoothie:
- Fruits and vegetables: fruits and vegetables can contribute all sorts of vitamins,minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants to smoothies, such as vitamin A for eye health, vitamin C for immunity, potassium for lowering blood pressure, and fiber to keep us feeling full.While juicing destroys a lot of the fiber found in fruits and vegetables, blending does not. Fruits make the smoothie taste sweet, but using too much fruit can quickly boost the calorie content of the smoothie. Aim for 1.5 cups of fruit to every 1 cup of vegetables to balance taste and nutrition.
- Protein: Add protein by blending in 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds, flax seeds, oatmeal, peanut or other nut butter.
- Liquids: Depending on the type of fruits, vegetables, and protein used in the smoothie, you will need about 1 cup of liquid for every 2-2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables to make the smoothie a drinkable consistency. Plain water will do fine, but coconut milk or almond milk can add some great flavor. For more protein and a neutral flavor, try soy milk. Non-dairy yogurts work great for a creamier texture!
- Flavorings: A little flavoring goes a long way. Use vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, shredded coconut, or cocoa powder for some added flavoring. If the smoothie still isn’t sweet enough, try a moderate (one tablespoon) portion of chocolate chips, honey, agave, or maple syrup.
Ready to start blending? Experiment with your choice of fruits, vegetables, protein, and liquid, or try one of these combinations below:
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup milk of choice (we recommend a plant-based milk)
- 1/2 of an avocado, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 cup of mint or 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup of milk of choice
- 2 oranges, peeled
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1 inch ginger, grated or chopped
- 2 tablespoons flax seeds
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 1 overripe banana, frozen
- 1 cup kale, torn
- 2 tablespoons nut butter of choice
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
To blend, add liquid and vegetables to pitcher first and blend before adding in other ingredients. If additional sweetness is desired, add one tablespoon of sweetener of choice. For a thicker smoothie, blend in ice after all the other ingredients have been blended together.