Behold, the smoothie. A meal in a glass. And not just any meal. A meal anyone can make, no matter how inept in the kitchen or bound by time constraints. And done right, smoothies are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, healthy fats and so much more. Not only can smoothies be nutritious, they’re also super delicious. That combination doesn’t come round too often.
Use it as a meal replacement (e.g. breakfast), a post-workout drink, a supplement, snack or a healthy dessert. Use smoothies as a way to get your daily dose of fruit and veg, to lose weight, build muscle, or gain weight. Adapt smoothies anyway you can to suit your needs. The only thing holding you back is your imagination. There’s so much more to smoothies than fruit, yogurt and ice. Here’s your go-to guide on how to make a smoothie – awesome!
1. FRUITS/ VEGGIES
Use fresh or frozen fruits to make your smoothie. Out of season, frozen fruits are a good choice, as they’re picked at the peak of ripeness and immediately frozen, sealing in the vitamins and minerals for maximum nutrition and maintaining textural integrity. Of course frozen fruits are incredibly convenient, but they also score high in terms of taste. Because you need less ice, you can achieve a more intense, purer flavor and yield a creamier smoothie.
Bananas are a popular ingredient in smoothies, but if you’re not a fan of bananas, check out how to make a smoothie without bananas.
Why not freeze your own fruit, especially if you prefer organic? Just buy fruit in bulk when in season (esp. when on sale), peel, cut, place in freezer bags and freeze.
Fruits to add to your smoothie include:
- Berries (e.g. strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries)
- Melon (e.g. watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew)
Smoothies are a great opportunity to get some greens into your diet without actually tasting them. The fruit in smoothies mask most of the flavor of the vegetables, such that it still tastes like a fruit smoothie (though slightly different color). Spinach is one of the most popular greens added to smoothies because it has a mild flavor (its taste is masked by fruit) and because it is easy to blend. Other mild greens include romaine lettuce and bok choy. Adding a few greens will massively boost the nutritional content of your smoothie. As you experiment with ingredients and recipes, try some of the greens listed below:
- Swiss chard
- Bok Choy
- Collard greens
- Spring greens
- Beet greens
- Dandelion greens
- Mustard greens
- Romaine lettuce
2. ADD LIQUID
Smoothies are all about balance. Balance of flavor, balance of texture. Consistency of your smoothie is as important as taste. To get the right consistency add between 1 and 2 cups of liquid for every 3 cups of fruit. Exactly how much you need depends on the type of fruit you’re using. Bananas and mangos for example are thicker fruit, which means you’ll want to add more liquid. Watermelon, on the other hand, produces a lot of juice, so you’ll need to add less. In any case, if it’s too thick you can always add more liquid, and if you added too much liquid just add more ingredients that thicken your smoothie (see next step).
Nothing is irreversible when making a smoothie, you can always add a little more of this or a little more of that to get it just how you want. That’s what the infographic (below) is all about. A cheat sheet! In fact, experimentation is the best way to find out how you like your smoothie!
Liquids to add to your smoothie include:
- Cows milk
- Almond milk
- Hazelnut milk
- Soy milk
- Rice milk
- Oat milk
- Hemp milk
- Coconut milk/ water
Fruit juice (fresh squeezed/ pressed or store bought):
- Orange juice
- Apple juice
- Pear juice
- Grape juice
- Pomegranate juice
- Iced coffee
- Iced green/ black tea
3. THICKEN UP
We show you how to make a smoothie with just the right consistency. Too runny and it’s not really a smoothie, too thick and you’ll need a spoon. This step will give your smoothie body, texture and creaminess, and balance out any acidic taste from fruits such as oranges and berries. But it’s also an opportunity to boost the nutritional content of your smoothie. Thickening your smoothie is especially important if you’re working with watery fruit such as watermelon or pineapple, or haven’t used thick, balancing fruits such as avocado and banana.
Nut & seed butters (preferably natural & unsweetened):
Nut and seed butters are rich in protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids. If you’re worried about the calorie content of your smoothie, check out how to make a low calorie smoothie.
- Almond butter
- Cashew butter
- Hazelnut butter
- Macadamia nut butter
- Peanut butter
- Pecan butter
- Pistachio butter
- Walnut butter
- Pumpkin seed butter
- Sesame seed butter (tahini)
- Soybean butter
- Sunflower seed butter
- Cottage cheese
- Frozen yogurt
- Ice cream (best used for dessert smoothie, treat or weight gain smoothie)
- Coconut meat
- Chia seeds
- Psyllium seed husks (drink smoothie quickly or psyllium will swell making it difficult to drink)
- Beans (tip: use white beans or chickpeas in fruit, vanilla or other light-colored smoothies and black beans in chocolate or dark smoothies)
If you don’t want to thicken your smoothie with any of the above ingredients or are only adding ice, work with fruits such as avocados, bananas and mangoes, that are naturally thicker or frozen fruits to achieve a thick, rich and creamy smoothie.
4. FLAVOR IT
This is one of my favorite steps. It’s where you take really good smoothie and make it special.
Let’s start with sweeteners. Ideally, most of the smoothies sweetness should come from fruit. If you’re using sweet and ripe fruits such as banana and mango, you should need little sweetener. If you do need to sweeten your smoothie, you can use (brown) sugar, but there are many ways you can sweeten your smoothie and add nutritional value or at least limit calories.
- Maple syrup
- Agave nectar
Just as any meal, a dash of salt can enhance the taste of your smoothie. To add extra nutritional value, use high quality sea salt such as Celtic sea salt, instead of table salt.
Adding spices will take your smoothie to the next level, both in flavor and nutritionally.
- Cilantro/coriander (green smoothies)
- Parsley (green smoothies)
- Cinnamon (adds a layer of sweetness, without adding calories)
- Vanilla (extract)
- Almond extract
As well as the following (a little will go a long way):
- Cayenne pepper
- Lemon juice
- Lime juice
How do you make a smoothie super healthy? Easy. With superfoods. This is where you take your smoothie to the next level in terms of nutrition. There are a plethora of superfoods you can add to smoothies to give it a massive nutritional boost.
Adding a tablespoon of healthy oil (e.g. fish oil and coconut oil) is an easy to way to turn a smoothie into more of a meal. Adding healthy fats help you absorb some of the nutrients, will make the smoothie more satisfying and help you feel fuller for longer. Instead of a tablespoon of oil, you can add some avocado, it’s full of healthy fat and will make your smoothie creamy.
Another awesome addition to your smoothie is protein. Like fats, protein transforms your smoothie from a snack into a meal. Protein takes longer to digest, stabilizes blood sugar, helpes you feel fuller and keeps hunger at bay. Protein is important if you’re using smoothies as a meal replacement or as a post-exercise snack. You can add protein powder (e.g. whey protein, hemp protein), which come in all sorts of flavors, or use foods such as cottage cheese, yogurt or milk (see step 3 above) as your protein source.
As with the previous steps, the following is just a list of what you can add, it’s not meant to be overwhelming, but just give you an idea of the possibilities and encourage you to experiment a little.
- Protein powder
- Coconut oil/ butter
- Flaxseed oil
- Fish oil
- Fresh sprouts
- Green powders
- Cacao powder
- Maca powder
- Aloe vera
- Acai powder
- Goji berries
- Spirulina powder
- Chlorella powder
- Wheatgrass powder
- Multivitamin powder
- Wheat germ
- Probiotic powder
- Ground flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Bee pollen
6. HOW TO MAKE A SMOOTHIE: BLEND!
Added all the ingredients? It’s time to blend! Start out on a low setting and work your way up to the top speed. It’ll take about 30 to 60 seconds – depending on ingredients – to blend. Pour, drink and enjoy!
Don’t stress when making smoothies. Learning how to make smoothies should be fun, experimental and stress-free. The more you experiment, the more you’ll find out what you really like. If you come up with some wild and interesting (and of course tasty!) concoctions, let us know in the comments below!
Did I miss your favorite ingredient or do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? Leave a comment and let me know!
Check out the How to make a smoothie infographic below! And if you love this, you’ll love the Smoothie Recipes for Everything infographic!