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A healthy smoothie is such a simple & delicious breakfast, snack and treat - and so versatile. You can just grab what you have at home and get going! Here you will find the best tips & tricks to making delicious smoothies - from what to put in them to what blender to use, as well as 6 amazing smoothie recipes.
In this post you will get all my best tips for making delicious, healthy smoothies at home. Just click the link to jump straight to the part you're looking for!
And for a quick intro to how to make healthy smoothies - check out this smoothie story.
What ingredients to use
Making amazing & healthy smoothies starts with the ingredients. While you can just grab whatever you have and start blending, I've found that the best smoothies that are healthy, delicious and keep me full for long include a few specific components:
- Something creamy
- Something sweet
- A bit of fat
- A bit of protein
- Leafy greens
- Some extra flavor
- So called "superfoods"
I recommend including one component from all or at least most of these groups - and as you will see, many ingredients fall into two or more groups. Read on for some of my favorites ingredients in each category!
- Greek yogurt creates super creamy smoothies - and as a bonus it gives your smoothie a beautiful pastel color. It also adds fat and protein!
- Avocados are great for a dairy free alternative, especially if you don't like bananas or want a less sweet smoothie. The flavor is easily disguised by adding other flavorful ingredients. Loaded with healthy fats!
- Milk - regular, or dairy free alternatives like almond milk - is a great addition if your smoothie's too thick (as is water). Almond milk also goes great with chocolate and peanut butter as in this Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie.
- Bananas add sweetness and some flavor, which some people have a hard time with. A bonus is that you can cut ripe bananas in pieces and freeze them, and then add them to your smoothies. This way your smoothie stays cold, and the frozen bananas make it super creamy!
I never add sugar to my smoothies, and very rarely fruit juice. But I always like to include a sweet fruit or vegetable, to make it taste amazing.
- Frozen fruit is a great option, and super easy to have on hand - buy it frozen, or freeze leftover fruit and berries
- Mix and match and find your favorite combination
Fat helps keep you full for longer, which means your breakfast smoothie might just keep you full until lunch.
- Peanut butter is great in some flavor combos - like in a chocolate smoothie - but not so great in others. Match your ingredients accordingly!
- Coconut oil is very high in fat, so a little goes a long way
Protein also helps to keep you full, and is important for a lot of processes in the body - like building muscles. I never add protein powders to my smoothies, instead I prefer to add ingredients that naturally contain a lot of it.
While the benefits of adding leafy greens differ depending on which type you choose - what they all have in common is that they all provide good fibers and vitamins. You can choose your type depending on taste, what vitamins you are looking for and what you happen to have in the fridge.
- Kale contains - among other nutrients - antioxidants, calcium, iron and vitamins C and K - but raw kale can be hard on the stomach and cause bloating, so if this is the case for you, you might want to try another kind
- Arugula might not be the common choice for smoothies, but its pepperiness adds an interesting flavor dimension. Arugula is high in calcium, potassium, folate and vitamins C, K and A.
- Spinach is my go-to choice for smoothies - loaded with iron, folate, magnesium and vitamins C, A and K. It doesn't really add any flavor, so its a great green to "hide" in your smoothies.
Adding extra flavor
Sometimes sweet is not enough, and you want to add a bit more flavor to your smoothie. Or you don't want to add too much sweetness, but still want a lot of flavor.
These flavorful additions are also a great way to hide any ingredients you aren't so fond of (for example, any residual avocado taste).
- Passion fruit adds acidity and a nice tropical touch - I keep frozen passion fruit in my freezer at all times to add to smoothies as needed
- Fresh ginger is so flavorful & spicy it can hide most flavors - if you like your smoothies with a kick, this is a great way to make any ingredient taste great
- Dates add extra sweetness
- Fresh mint is great in smoothies - you can also experiment with other fresh herbs like basil and parsley
- Lemon & lime add acidity and flavor - especially great for adding flavor without adding sweetness
- Unsweetened cocoa powder is how you make a healthy chocolate smoothie - I might even add some raw cacao nibs with it
Superfoods are ingredients that are extra dense in nutrients - and so, extra good for you. Add one or two to your smoothie for an additional boost.
- Ginger and turmeric can be fresh, or dried and ground. The fresh ones have the most benefits for you, but dried can be easier to keep on hand.
- Berries in general and blueberries in particular are loaded with nutrients - always keep frozen berries on hand and buy fresh when they're in season
What blender to use
A really good high-powered blender will help you make delicious, chunk-free, smoothies. But you can also make do with a cheaper kind - it might just take a bit extra time to make your smoothies.
At the very least, make sure you get a blender that can manage crushing ice - this way you know it will manage frozen fruit and veggies. Below are three different options - all great blenders, but at different price points.
How to clean your blender
So you've made your smoothie, and now you have to clean up. Don't worry! Cleaning your blender is so easy.
First, rinse the blender pitcher and the lid in warm water. Then fill up the pitcher ¼ of the way with cold water (important - don't use warm water here) and add a drop of dish soap. Close the lid, and start your blender. Let it run for 30 seconds to 1 minute - or use the cleaning program if your blender has one of these.
Then pour out the water and rinse the pitcher and lid in warm water yet again - and set aside to dry.
You should still occasionally take your pitcher apart and clean all parts separately, but this quick clean will do for normal everyday cleaning.
Tips & tricks for smoothie success
- Use at least one frozen ingredient to keep your smoothie cold
- Add an ice cube while blending if you don't have any frozen ingredients
- Add whole fruit & veggies rather than juice - this way you get all the fibers
- Blend fruits and veggies first, with just a little bit of liquid, before adding other ingredients - this helps them blend together better and helps avoid chunks
- Make smoothies thinner by adding milk or cold water
- Make smoothies thicker by adding more fruit or veggies
- Freeze leftover fruit and veggies to use in your smoothies - leafy greens can be blended with a tiny bit of water and then frozen as ice cubes
- Get reusable smoothie cups* to bring your smoothie with you wherever you go
To make a vegan smoothie, just don't add dairy products. Focus on fruits and veggies, and add avocado, banana or a dairy free yogurt to make it creamy.
Smoothies are best when consumed fresh, but they will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge. Just give your smoothie a good stir before drinking it.
Prep ahead by making smoothie freezer packs. Just peel and chop fruits and veggies and place the mix you'd like in freezer bags - one serving in each.
When you want to make your smoothie, dump the frozen fruits and veggies in your blender together with a little bit of water. Blend until smooth, and then add any yogurt or other fresh ingredients you wish.