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!
Here’s how to make a smoothie in 5 steps:
- Add liquid. Start by adding about 1 cup of liquid to the blender – this is your base. Go for low-fat milk, dairy-free milk, coconut water, plain water, or fruit juice.
- Add fruit or vegetables. Banana makes for an awesome base in almost any smoothie, as it has a mild taste and a creamy consistency. Same goes for avocado. Other fruits and veggies that work really well in smoothies are berries, papaya, mango, pineapple, peaches, and spinach.
- Thicken smoothie to get just the right texture, creaminess and thickness, and to balance the acidity from the fruit. This will also make your smoothie more filling and nutritious. Add nut butter, yogurt, chia seeds or oats for a smoother, tastier smoothie.
- Boost flavour. Sweeten your smoothie by adding some dates or a little honey, maple syrup or agave syrup. Add spices or herbs such as cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and mint to make your smoothie extra special.
- Add super foods. Healthy smoothie add-ins include spirulina, wheatgerm, flaxseed, protein powder, and goji berries.
And here’s a full breakdown on how to make a smoothie:
1. 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 (above) 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
2. ADD 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
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.
Read on for ingenious ways to flavor your smoothie and how to make a healthier smoother.
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