Smoothies 101: Everything you need to know about smoothies easily
Smoothies are very popular and you can find them everywhere. However, there are lots to learn to take advantage of its health benefits. This is everything you need to know about smoothies.
Table of Contents
What’s a smoothie?
A smoothie is a drink made from blending fruit, vegetable, and liquid. Smoothies could be a fast, easy breakfast.
You need to prep your ingredients to remove seeds, cores, and skin prior to blending by the blender.
Juicing & smoothies
How you use fresh produce for juicing and smoothies is a bit different. You only use fresh products for juicing, but you can have endless options to make smoothies:
- fresh/frozen fruits
- frozen/regular yogurt
- nut butter
- liquid (water, milk, coconut water, juice, etc.).
Even if you run out of fresh fruits, you can still make smoothies with frozen fruits! Combinations are endless. Try out and figure out what you like.
The basic smoothie formula
To blend the smoothie ingredients, you must have these ingredients:
Fresh fruits/vegetables + Frozen items + Liquid + Extra
Get to know your fresh produce – know which one is sweet/bitter and contains more water content. Try and figure out the basics so that you can find good combinations for you.
Though fruit is a healthy smoothie ingredient, you must watch out for the calories and carbs like juicing. Putting a few different fruits in your blender can easily add up to much more.
A general rule of thumb: 1 to 2 cup of fruit or vegetables per smoothie
1 cup = 1 serving: a medium apple, banana, orange, pear, two plums, apricots, or kiwifruit.
- Acai: Very high in anthocyanins (antioxidants) to lower cholesterol and plant sterols to lower cholesterol. Goes well with chocolate, bananas, creamy nut milk (like coconut milk), other berries and dates, leafy greens, but not with citrus.
- Avocado: it offers protein and healthy fat that help smoothies creamy texture. Goes well with almond milk and bananas.
- Banana: used as thickeners and sweetener to smoothies. Convenient for both fresh and frozen banana to your smoothies. The best sources of potassium, as well as containing vitamins A, K, C, and E, folate, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
- Berries: berries contain fiber and antioxidants, and are low on the glycemic index: won’t spike blood sugars as quickly as other fruits do.
- Wild Blueberries: Wild blueberries have more fiber and antioxidants than their cousins. Excellent source of manganese, a mineral for bone health, and anthocyanin. They have a more intense blueberry flavor than the larger, regular blueberries.
- Camu berries: Rich in vitamin C (60 times more than an orange), potassium, calcium, protein, beta carotene, amino acids, and powerful phytochemicals. They are a pale brown color with a bitter, tart taste. In South America, camu is available as berries or juice. But we use it in powder form. Add 1 teaspoon to your smoothies.
- Coconut: Adding coconut water (the liquid inside young green coconuts) provides you with nearly fat-free hydration and electrolytes. You can get coconut-based milk, and coconut oil can provide energy and healthy fats for nutrient absorption. Coconut oil helps to balance blood sugar and may aid thyroid function. It’s also anti-fungal, anti-viral, and full of antioxidants. Make sure to use a high-speed blender or melt the oil first for a smooth consistency. When it’s chilled, it forms beads.
- Dragon Fruit/Pitaya: The bright pink tropical fruit that’s rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. It can be paired with any combination of fruit.
- Figs: It contains benzaldehyde, a cancer-fighting agent. They are also high in potassium, B vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. You can use dried or fresh figs in smoothies. Fresh figs are available in some supermarkets and Middle Eastern markets in summer and early fall. When purchasing fresh figs, chose fruit that is soft and plump. Remove the skin first, then blend the flesh and seeds.
- Grapes: rich in resveratrol (antioxidant) but use them sparingly: they are very sweet.
- Kiwi: Just 1 kiwi packs more than 100 % of your daily-recommended value of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps with collagen formation. In fact, they are one of the few fruits that contain vitamin E and also high in potassium. Added bonus for this smoothie: mint has high antioxidant content.
- Lemon/lime: vitamin C booster.
- Mango: High in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and beta carotene. Foods containing beta carotene keep skin healthy, the immune system, and are one of the best cancer-preventing foods. Mango gives a nice creamy texture and sweetness. Like berries, they can be used both fresh and frozen.
- Melon: cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon are very nutritious. They are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Watermelon also contains high levels of lycopene (antioxidant). The levels are highest when the melon is ripe and juicy red. But once ripe, the antioxidant levels start to decline after several days, so watermelon should be used as soon as possible. Because they contain mostly water (about 90% of melon is water), they are also low in calories and fat. However, it also means they will add a lot of water to your smoothie – adjust it accordingly and use less liquid.
- Orange: High in Vitamin C. They can be used whole or juiced. Make your own orange juice with a juice extractor. Or simply use the whole orange, minus the peel. Just peel and pull apart into segments, then throw into your blender.
- Peach: Both fresh or frozen, peaches add a creamy texture full of fiber, vitamin A and potassium. It also contains boron, niacin, some iron, and vitamin C. Remove the pit first. Freestone varieties (such as loring and redhaven) are easier to pit than clingstone varieties.
- Pears: good source of vitamin C, fiber, minerals with low in sugar. Pears are one of those fruits that don’t freeze well so use fresh. The best varieties: Bartlett, Comice, Seckel, and Bosc. You don’t need to peel, but wash first and remove the seeds and stem. Cut into quarters before adding them to the blender.
- Pineapple: Great sweetener with vitamin B1 and the enzyme bromelain having anti-inflammatory properties. One fresh wedge gives you about 1 cup of juice.
- Pomegranates: To get the seeds, cut them in half, then quarters. Place the quarters in a bowl of cold water and gently ease the seeds away from the skin using your fingers.
- Sweet Cherries: Cherries contain vitamin C and the nutrients anthocyanins against inflammation. A cherry smoothie after a workout may help your body heal.
- Beets: Beets are great ingredients to add sweetness with only a small amount for juicing and smoothies. Beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable with low in calories, high in vitamin A, fiber, iron, and potassium. They also offer the enzyme betaine for cleansing the liver, kidneys, and gallbladder. Beets can be added raw or cooked. Peel and chop into small pieces before adding to your smoothie. The green tops are even more nutritious than the roots, with double the amount of potassium, folic acid, calcium, and iron.
- Broccoli: a member of the cabbage family, the most nutritious of the cruciferous vegetables. All of these contain nitrogen compounds, but broccoli contains especially high amounts of enzymes and nutrients such as carotenoids. Besides being calcium-rich and high in fiber, broccoli is also a good source of vitamin C, folate, riboflavin, potassium, and iron. Use only a few florets for smoothies since it can be bitter.
- Cabbage: red cabbage will give your smoothies a red hue, mild-tasting, and great consistency. Rich in vitamin E, calcium, and vitamin C. The sulfur and iodine in cabbage help cleanse your stomach and intestines. Shred or cut the cabbage into chunks for the blender.
- Carrots: provide fiber and vitamin A that is important for the skin, eyes, and immune system with vitamins B3, C, and E. They’re great smoothie ingredients that are cheap and sweet with high water content.
- Cucumber: With a mild taste, a high water content, and few calories they are great for smoothies. They add thickness, provide potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C. The hard skin of the cucumber is rich in fiber.
- Celery: It’s a very convenient and cheap ingredient that provides you lots of juice. Rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, and some vitamin C.
- Cruciferous veggies: cabbage, bok choy, broccoli (and leafy greens) contain glucosinolates, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
- Dark, leafy greens: Spinach, kale, parsley, swiss chard, collard greens, or dandelion greens. Greens are low in sugars and calories and provide more iron and protein than fruit. They’re also packed with fiber, folate, and phytonutrients like carotenoids, saponins, and flavonoids.
- Leafy greens: lettuce, romaine, red leaf, Rich in vitamins A and K, plus the antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein.
- Ginger: Ginger adds a nice kick to your smoothie, while it aids the digestive system and increases the absorption of nutrients. Ginger may also help to decrease inflammation and soreness after resistance exercise. And ginger reduces osteoarthritis pain. Loaded with vitamins C and E, copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium, ginger is low in calories but high in fiber. It also has numerous other anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. Try mixing it with orange, apple, pumpkin, or mango. When adding to smoothies, cut off a piece of ginger root (about ½ an inch) then grate into your blender.
- Pumpkins: great smoothie base, giving them a creamy texture and flavor use the same wonderful spices that you use in cooking, such as allspice, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and ginger. Pumpkin is one vegetable that tastes much better cooked: steam or bake. Buying canned pumpkin is the easier option, but look for an organic brand without added sugar. Use about 1 cup for a smoothie!
- Sweet potatoes: Rich in beta-carotene, folate, vitamins B6, C, and E. Low in calories and high in fiber, sweet potatoes are great for weight loss. Use sweet potatoes in much the same way as pumpkins in your smoothies. They will blend up well with the spices and also taste much better if cooked first. Raw sweet potato is rather starchy. Mix them with bananas or pears. They also go well with citrus fruits.
- Zucchini: With a mild flavor, rich in manganese and vitamin, magnesium, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, folate, copper, vitaminB2, and phosphorus. Leave the skin for fiber.
Frozen matter / thickener
Adding frozen matter differentiates juicing from smoothies. Unlike most opinions, use ice to cut the sweetness/frozen fruits. It’s totally ok to use ice. I don’t recommend to use ice cream nor sorbet for healthy smoothies since you don’t want to add sugar more than necessary.
- Ice: many people say to ditch ice, but I disagree. You can add volume and thicken the smoothie well without adding a calorie, which is better than adding ice cream/sorbet. You can cut the amount of sugar/frozen fruits combining ice with frozen fruits. Budget-friendly, too!
- Frozen fruits: Berries, pineapple, banana, peach, mango, acai, cherries
- Frozen yogurt: plain Greek yogurt to add calcium and protein
- Ice cream/sorbet: too much sugars and calories. Avoid unless you have ice or frozen fruits.
0.5 to 1 cup liquid (use less for a thicker smoothie). Without liquid (only a small amount. Too much liquid makes it too runny), the blender can’t blend them well.
Decide what liquid you want to add. Water or fruit juice works well, but you can add dairy products like milk and yogurt to add calcium to your smoothie. Test anything you like – you might like the taste of oat milk.
- Water: 0 calories without sugar to thicken your smoothie.
- Juice: Fruit juices give smoothies a sweeter taste. Though fruits are full of vitamins minerals, enzymes and antioxidants, watch out for the sugar and calories. The juice is concentrated fruit and it’s very easy to consume too much. When buying fruit juice, read the labels carefully. Avoid anything that is labeled juice cocktail, juice-flavored beverage, or juice drink. These contain little, if any, real juice and are no better than soft drinks. Look for juice that is labeled 100% fruit juice with no added sugar. Juicing your own is the best option for juice since you can avoid added sugar or additives.
- Pomegranate: high in antioxidants, more than green tea.
- Cranberry: high in vitamin C and powerful flavonoids (proanthocyanidins). It helps prevent the build-up of bacteria that cause urinary tract infections.
- Acai: higher concentrations of antioxidants than blueberries.
- Orange: high in vitamin C with fewer calories than berry juices
- Dairy products
- Milk: adding calcium, B vitamins, protein, minerals, and vitamin D and makes smoothies creamier.
- Kefir: a fermented milk drink made with milk from cows, goats, or sheep. It’s easier to digest than whole milk. You can also find kefir made from soy or other dairy alternatives.
- Yogurt: it is a great thickener, provides calcium, protein and fills you up)
- Dairy-free milk: oat milk, nut milk, coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk, fruit milk
- Coconut water: the liquid found inside a young coconut that is often used as a sports drink as it hydrates the body by replenishing electrolytes. It is fat-free and low in carbohydrates and calories. When buying coconuts, look for ones that are young and green. Once they develop a hard brown shell, the coconut has matured.
- Tea: Green tea is less processed and not fermented like black tea. This enables the tea leaves to retain their green color and distinctive flavor. Tea can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancers and maintain strong bones in older people. The best way to use green tea is to make an infusion. Place 1 teaspoon of dried green leaves into a teapot and pour over ¼ cup of boiling water. Cover and leave to steep for 2 minutes, then cool down before adding it to your smoothie. Or you can crush the leaves into a fine powder then added to the smoothie. Use 1 teaspoon for each cup of smoothie. Add to other ingredients before blending.
- Iced coffee
Extra flavor/nutrient boosters
Smoothies can also be a complete meal if you add protein and extra vitamins and minerals. This is when you add extra: nut butter, seeds, and protein powders.
But like other smoothie ingredients, it’s possible to go overboard.
A tablespoon of either peanut or almond butter has about 100 calories; protein powders often start in the 100-calorie range; and chia, flax, or hemp seeds get you to the 100-calorie mark in 2 or 3 tablespoons. Be careful of add-ins. It’s all about balance – taste, nutrients, sugar, and calories.
If you want to improve the nutrition of your smoothies without adding protein powders then consider using nuts. Nuts will turn a light smoothie into a meal without using processed foods.
- Almonds: Though high in fat, this fat is monounsaturated (good fats). They contain the highest vitamin E of all nuts. Rich in calcium, magnesium and manganese and fiber, copper, phosphorous and riboflavin. Almonds will go with almost any fruit.
- Brazil nuts: After macadamias, brazils have one of the highest fat contents of all nuts, but most of that is polyunsaturated. Brazil nuts originated in the tropical rainforests of Brazil. They provide selenium, an antioxidant, magnesium, and calcium. They are great with almond or coconut milk blended with berries.
- Cashew Nuts: Cashews have the highest plant iron and zinc levels of all nuts. They also provide phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and high amounts of tryptophan. Most of the fat in cashews is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
- Pecans: They resemble walnuts in appearance and nutrition but have a distinctive rich, buttery flavor. Pecans have the highest amounts of antioxidants of all the major nuts and have major cholesterol-lowering properties (natural plant sterols or phytosterols). They also contain over 19 vitamins and minerals: vitamins Bs, A, E, calcium, potassium, folic acid, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium.
How to add nuts to smoothies
If you have a high-speed blender, they can be added without soaking first.
- Place nuts in the blender first
- Add the liquid.
- Turn the blender on and process until smooth.
- Add the rest of your ingredients.
The ratio is normally ¼ cup of raw nuts to 1 cup of water.
If you don’t have a high-speed blender, try soaking your nuts first overnight in water. Then drain and rinse before adding to your blender.
Not only it adds taste/sweetness but also gives you protein, healthy fat, fiber, and nutrition. If you have a high-performance blender, you can even make the nut butter at home. Choose natural peanut or almond butter (all peanuts or almonds, no fillers), or add walnut halves to boost your omega-3 intake. Remember that nut butter is high in calories, so be careful of portion sizes. Just add a tablespoon.
- Peanut butter: Peanut butter offers various health benefits.
- Almond butter
- Walnut butter: rich in monounsaturated fats and omega-3s. It provides biotin, a B-complex vitamin that helps process fatty acids, and contributes to strong nails, hair, and skin. It also helps to manage cholesterol.
Seeds add protein and body to your smoothies like nuts. Either add them straight into your smoothie or soak them first. A high-speed blender will break them down easily.
- Chia seeds: rich in omega-3 fats, fiber, calcium, protein, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc with little calories. Chia seeds and powder thicken when added to liquids – great for hydration.
- Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds need to be ground to take advantage of the nutrients: High in omega-3 fats, fiber, protein, phytochemicals, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, folate, and iron. Grounded flaxseeds are perfect for smoothies. Add 1 tablespoon to a smoothie.
- Hemp seeds: one of the best sources of plant-based protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids as well as omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. They also provide vitamins C, E, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Seeds are high in calories, so be careful not to consume too much. Add 3 tablespoons to your smoothies.
- Pumpkin Seeds (pepitas): Pumpkin seeds have one of the highest levels of protein of any seed or nut. Rich in fiber, amino acids, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese and a good source of iron, copper, zinc. Since they are quite high in calories, just add 2 tablespoons of fresh hulled pumpkin seeds to your blender. They also make great milk.
- Sesame Seeds: Rich in protein, lignans, fiber, monounsaturated fats, vitamins B1 and B2, and minerals such as copper, magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium. Add 1 tablespoon to your blender.
- Sunflower Seeds: With their nutty flavor, sunflower seeds are high in calories, but full of vitamin E, minerals (copper, phosphorus, selenium, zinc), protein, antioxidants, linoleic acid, and essential fatty acid. They also provide vitamins B1 and B5, fiber, and folate.
Grains make your smoothies thicker without frozen fruits. In addition to providing more body, you’ll get all the benefits of whole grains like fiber when you add them to your smoothie mixture or bowl. Quinoa (cooked first!) or oatmeal offers even fiber and protein.
- Protein powder: Watch out for the added or artificial sweeteners on the label. Additionally, look at the protein source, especially if you follow certain dietary restrictions: whey, pea, nuts (almond, peanut), hemp, egg white, soy, brown rice, etc. When it comes to powders, simple ingredient lists are the best.
- Vitamin powder: Easy to add to your smoothies. Add it right to the liquid so it blends well.
- Maca powder: Maca is an herb with a nutty flavor and grows in Peru. Its nutritional value (iodine) is concentrated in the root. Avoid it if you’re on a low-iodine diet for medical reasons. Maca is known for increasing energy and endurance. Packed with amino acids, maca is a notable source of plant sterols. It contains iron, iodine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, vitamins B1, B2, C, and E. It goes well with nuts, seeds, bananas, and dates, but not with most other fruits nor with vegetables. Maca comes in different colors. The best choice is a high-quality organic powder that blends several different colors. Add 1 tablespoon.
- 100% cocoa powder: Cacao is a great way to add the chocolate taste to your smoothies without all the added fat and sugar. Cacao beans are full of flavonoids, and minimally processed unlike chocolate – the nutrients are left largely intact (full of antioxidants).
- Unsweetened matcha powder: Full of antioxidant: 1 serving is equivalent to 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea.
- Spirulina: Spirulina is made from an aquatic plant, and provides protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytonutrients (antioxidants) without calories and sugar.
Protein & Plant-based fat
Unlike juice, you can add protein (here’s the list of plant-based protein) and fat (omega-3 fatty acids or monounsaturated fats) with smoothies easily to make it a complete meal replacement. But these additions can add up the calories. Stick to about a tablespoon of seeds or nut butter or about a quarter of an avocado to avoid it.
- Dairy products: Greek yogurt, cottage cheese
- Protein powder
- Silken tofu
- Legumes: chickpeas
- Protein powder
Healthy fat (Plant-based)
- Nut butter
- Seeds: chia, hemp, ground flaxseeds
- Cardamom: rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. It has many health benefits but is often used to aid the digestive system. Combine it with mango for an Indian inspired smoothie.
- Cayenne: This spicy seasoning works as capsaicin-containing anti-inflammatory is spicy, so use it sparingly.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is the dried bark of the cinnamon tree. It is often used to sweeten foods without adding sugar. It contains cinnamic acid, an antioxidant that helps to manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels and helps prevent yeast infections. It is also rich in magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. Sprinkle over apple or pumpkin smoothies.
- Cacao nibs (pieces of the bean): raw chocolate bits have a bitter chocolatey taste. They’re rich in antioxidants (4 times of dark chocolate and more than 20 times that of blueberries), minerals, flavonoids, and monounsaturated fat, and protein.
- Nutmeg: Nutmeg is rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Usually sold in powder form and is often used with cinnamon.
- Salt: a pinch of salt to anything, including sweet recipes, to enhance the flavors.
- Turmeric: Indian root looks like ginger. Full of antioxidants promoting the healthy metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, and benefits against digestion, inflammation, and cancer.
- Bee pollen: rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It has a sweet flowery taste.
Herbs contain valuable nutrients, so will add extra nutrition to your smoothies as well as a flavor kick.
- Basil: Basil belongs to the mint family. A good source of vitamin A, C, and K, magnesium, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants to boost the immune system. Mix it with mango, apples, carrots, and berries.
- Cilantro (coriander): rich in antioxidants, dietary fiber, many essential volatile oils, minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium, vitamins like vitamins B2, B3, folate, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Cilantro is good with pineapple, strawberries and bananas.
- Mint: Mint offers vitamins A, C, and B2 and various essential minerals such as manganese, copper, iron. If you have a big bunch of fresh mint, make it puree and freeze in ice trays. Mint goes well with melon kiwi fruit or strawberries.
You don’t need to add any sweetener for smoothies mostly if you use some naturally sweet ingredients – even for green juices. Just use any sweetener only a little, if needed.
- Honey: While honey is made up of 80 % sugars, but contains high antioxidants including catalase, ascorbic acid flavonoids, and alkaloids. Honey also contains small amounts of protein, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of raw honey that retains all the pollen enzymes and other micronutrients but will crystalize quickly. Pasteurization kills the yeast cells and prevents fermentation and crystallization. It also causes a loss of nutrients and important enzymes.
- Maple syrup: Rich in manganese, iron, zinc, antioxidants, organic acids, minerals such as potassium and calcium, and traces of amino acids and vitamins. There are several different grades of maple syrup and they are recognized by their different colors. Grade A are the lighter amber, Grade B has a stronger flavor and a darker color and is also more nutrient-dense. The darker syrups are made from sap that extracted later in the harvesting season.
- Vanilla extract: Extracts such as vanilla, almond, and coconut are a great way to add flavors without adding lots of sugar. Use a dash of vanilla extract or paste.
- Medjool dates: The “king of dates” is due to the larger size, sweetness, and juicy flesh. High in soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins C, Bs, and A, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and natural sugars. Remove the pit, chop into pieces, put it into the blender. Unless you have a high-speed blender, soak them in a little warm water first.
- Coconut flakes: Use unsweetened dried shredded coconut or coconut flakes over the sweetened one. Unsweetened coconut has lower water content making it a more concentrated source of nutrients: high in fiber, manganese, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and selenium. Though they are nutritious, they have a high-fat content, particularly saturated fat: 1 oz serving contains about 18 g of fat, 16 g of which is saturated fat. This makes it high in calories. Just use it as sprinkles.
Other good ingredients for smoothies
- Aloe vera: The juice of the succulent plant is known for its phytochemical content, particularly saponins that cleanse the blood and improve the immune system, lignins that helps absorption, and anti-inflammatory salicylic acid. It’s a remedy for digestive discomforts like cucumber, honeydew, and pear.
- Apple cider vinegar: The probiotic properties and anti-inflammatory properties, may restore a healthy pH balance to the stomach, and provide some relief from acid reflux symptoms. Unfortunately, most apple cider vinegar in most grocery stores has been pasteurized removing any probiotic properties. Try incorporating any recipe along with pears, apples, and cucumbers.
- Goji berries: Rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, zinc, selenium, iron, carotenoids for cancer. Goji berries are a complete protein food containing all essential amino acids. Goji berries go well with almost any smoothie, particularly other berries, citrus, and mango. A serving size is about 3 tablespoons.
- Nutritional yeast (brewer’s yeast): used for beer making, rich in protein, B vitamins, and minerals.
- Wheatgrass: It’s packed with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and immune-building properties, though its grassy taste is a bit hard to get over.
Frozen vs Fresh Fruit
Frozen fruit gives a creamy texture to smoothies and is a great thickener for smoothies that are a bit too runny especially frozen bananas.
You can save prep time by chopping your fruit into chunks and popping it into freezer bags. When you’re ready to make your smoothie, you’ll already have the right amount waiting for you.
The downside of using frozen fruit is that budget blenders will struggle to cope with them so you’ll need one of the stronger bullet or countertop blenders for this tip to work.
Dried fruits in Smoothies?
Use dried fruits: dates, prunes, dried apricots, figs, and raisins. Their flavor and sugar content is concentrated, so use sparingly. Remember to add ¼ cup of extra liquid to the smoothie.
Or you can reconstitute the fruit first by adding the extra liquid to the fruit and not the smoothie: pour boiling water over the fruit until covered, then leave for 30 – 60 minutes or until the fruit is plump and soft. Drain the fruit before adding it to the smoothie. The liquid can be reserved for use in other recipes.
The order to put the ingredients into a blender
To blend all the ingredients well, you must follow the general rule of thumb when putting the ingredients into the blender canister.
For an upright blender that will be loaded with the blade mechanism on the bottom (the lid at the top):
- Liquids (water, juice, yogurt, milk)
- Dry Ingredients (powders and other add-ins)
- Leafy greens (kale)
- Soft ingredients (yogurt, silken tofu, and nut butter)
- Fruits and vegetables (room temperature or chilled), nuts, seeds
- Ice and frozen ingredients / hard ingredients
If your blender canister is loaded and then flipped over, fill it up in the opposite order, starting with the ice, so it will be on top when you blend.
Key: As long as soft, high-moisture ingredients are added closest to the blade, and hard and frozen ingredients are added the furthest away, this will help to push everything towards the blades.
No matter what type of liquid you’re using, let this be the very first ingredient you add to the blender. Keeping the liquids on the bottom allows the blender to create a “vortex,” easily pulling down the vegetables and fruits that are layered above.
Remember, the amount of liquid used will determine the consistency of your smoothie. Less liquid will make for a thicker smoothie, while more liquid will give you a thinner drink.
2. Dry Ingredients (powders & sweeteners)
If you’re using any type of protein powder, boosters like maca or cacao powder, or a sweetener like dates, or honey, add it right after the liquid base. It’s important that these ingredients are well-blended, and in the cases of any powders, totally dissolved in the smoothie. Protein powder can make smoothies especially thick and creamy. But when added to the blender last, they might not get completely mixed, leaving an unpleasant powdery texture.
For an added boost, stir any powdered ingredient into the liquid before adding them to the canister. Helping to pre-blend them in this way will help to give them a jump-start so you won’t wind up with dry, lumpy clumps.
Don’t want to wind up with extra dirty dishes on your hands? A quick stir or shake in the blender canister before adding your greens should do the job.
Next is the leafy greens. Keeping kale, spinach, chard, and other leafy vegetables at the bottom of the canister. Remember to remove any ribs or stems.
Before adding the next round of ingredients, give the smoothie a quick pre-blend after adding any greens. This is one ingredient that can take a while to break down, so it’s helpful to give leafy greens some extra blending time.
4. Soft ingredients
From here on up, ingredients will be added to the blender based on firmness, starting with SOFT ingredients: yogurt, silken tofu, and nut butter.
5. Fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds
Drop soft fresh fruits: berries, melon, citrus, and avocados, as well as nuts and seeds. To help fruits blend better, cut them into small chunks. This is especially helpful if your blender isn’t so powerful.
6. Frozen and hard ingredients
Lastly, top off the blender with hard ingredients: frozen fruit and ice. The weight of these heavier items helps to push the other ingredients down toward the base.
Using the pulse function early in the blending process can help the ingredients to circulate. Not all blenders will have a set of buttons, but all of the personal types make it possible to quickly pulse on and off repeatedly.
After a few spins, once the ingredients have started to mix and look like they’re blending, set it to blend for the appropriate amount of time. It’s also a good idea to use the smaller chunks of ingredients to make it easier to blend (by using smaller ice and chopping fruits smaller).
Never keep the blender running for longer than the manufacturer recommends. For smoothies and shakes, this typically isn’t very long. Continuing to blend stubborn ingredients might risk burning out the motor on the blender.
Start at the lowest speed and slowly work your way up to high. Turn the speed up about 1/3 of the way and wait until the big pieces of fruit begin to break up and you see a vortex begin to form in the center. Then slowly add more speed. If you increase the speed too quickly, an air bubble will form and the blades will just spin around inside it.
Other solutions: Use tamper/spatula or use smaller sized ingredients to blend better.
Blending High vs Low
Depending on your blender, it may make for a better smoothie experience if you blend on a low setting, to begin with, and work up to a higher one, rather than blasting on a higher setting from the off. This will help the blender to process the ingredients more efficiently and quickly. Read the manufacturing manuals first and test. Get to know your equipment!
Use a spatula
If your blender didn’t come with a tamper, use a spatula to mix the ingredients halfway through a blend. Scrape down the sides using a stiff plastic blender spatula (softer rubber and silicone should be avoided since you might tear it on the blades, but it can work if you’re careful). Add a little more liquid on the thick side of the mixture. If your appliance came with a tamper tool, that’s the best.
Don’t overload the ingredients
There are various sizes in the blender canister. If you’re not getting a smooth blend, it probably means either you overloaded the ingredients, your blender doesn’t have enough power (cut the ingredients smaller pieces in advance to solve the problem) to blend well or you don’t have enough liquid.
Never fill the ingredients above the maximum line indicated, or within 2-3 inches of the top of your canister, depending on its size. You can always add, but hard to remove ingredients that are already in the canister.
If you want to blend in batches, just cut the ingredients half and blend twice instead of once. You get the same result but can make twice the portion at once.
How to adjust your smoothies
How to make it less sweet:
- Add a touch of lemon or ginger juice. Blend them at its highest speed for 10-20 seconds.
- Fruits add their own natural sweetness, so use a balance of sweet and citrus fruits.
- Cut the amounts of sweet fruits/vegetables – beets, carrots, berries
- Add the amount of cucumber and celery
- Reduce or eliminate other sweeteners like honey.
How to make it sweeter:
- Add honey, maple syrup, Stevia, or dates. Blend them at its highest speed for 10-20 seconds. Mix sweeteners like honey, dates or maple syrup into the yogurt or other liquidy ingredient first. Or you find that it often sticks to the side.
- Use apple (pick the crispy and juicy kinds – some kinds don’t contain much water nor sweetness), carrot (sweet, cheap and so good!), pineapple, grape, or/and berries.
- Using watermelon in place of water will sweeten a smoothie.
- A little sweetener goes a long way, so add small amounts at a time.
How to make it less bitter:
- Add sweet fruits:
- Banana, in addition to being sweet, seems to neutralize bitterness.
- Strawberries are good for green smoothies.
- Pineapple and oranges both add lots of fruity sweetness.
- Add a bit of vanilla bean or vanilla extract, agave, cacao, or unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Flavored protein powders can mask the taste of bitter greens. After adding these ingredients, blend at the highest speed for 10-20 seconds.
- Baby greens are generally milder than mature greens. Try combining small amounts of bitter greens with the spinach in the smoothie. Then gradually adjust the ratio as your taste buds adapt.
- Chalky taste: For protein powder, use the recommended amounts on the label. Don’t add too much. To fix the chalky taste, add more fruit and/or other ingredients in the recipe. Blend them at its highest speed for 10-20 seconds.
How to make it thicker:
- Use or add frozen fruit (especially bananas), ice and/or frozen yogurt. Blend them at its highest speed for 10-20 seconds.
- You could use coconut milk, avocados, nut butter, oats, chia seeds
- Remember that full-fat coconut milk can separate in a cold smoothie, so use coconut milk in a jug over canned coconut milk if you are working with frozen fruits.
- Add 1/4 tsp of xanthan gum for a single serving smoothie if you run out of frozen ingredients. Once you finished blending, pour it into your glass, then allow the smoothie to sit for a few minutes to thicken up.
- Add a variety of fresh produce with various textures.
How to make it thinner:
- Add SMALL amounts of liquid. Blend them at its highest speed for 10-20 seconds.
- Always start from small amount. It goes a long way. Otherwise, it gets harder to thicken it for the right consistency.
- Load the container in the following order – liquids first, then dry ingredients, greens, soft ingredients, fruits or vegetables, frozen fruits, and ice on top.
- Remember that some fresh produce can give you liquid a lot: pineapple, watermelon, cucumber, celery, orange, carrot, apple (certain kinds).
How to make it creamier:
Smoothies need a good blend of liquid and solid ingredients to achieve just the right texture.
- Use banana whenever you need a thickening agent and a natural sweetener. Banana is so convenient for smoothies.
- Add avocado for creaminess, protein and healthy fat.
- Add silken tofu, nut butter or tahini, cooked oatmeal, or puréed pumpkin, sweet potato, or butternut squash.
- Add ice cream, frozen yogurt, or Greek yogurt for more creaminess.
- Up the creamy in a non-iced smoothie (like green smoothies) with coconut oil: unrefined coconut oil (light-tasting) or a coconut butter. Coconut oil will solidify if the other ingredients aren’t so cold.
- If your smoothie gets too thick, add some non-watery milk.
Storing & Pre-packages
You don’t need to make it from scratch all the time. There are several ways to make your smoothie quickly and conveniently. Make smoothie packages or make a big batch and store. Be creative for quick access to your smoothies!
It could be difficult to get up early enough to actually make breakfast sometimes. So, why not to make a huge batch of your smoothie packages in advance? Prep freezer bags with ready-to-go, pre-portioned fruits so all you need is to add liquid – maybe additional fresh produce, yogurt, nut butter, etc. (if you like) when you want a smoothie. An easy, convenient, and quick way to make a smoothie!
How long can you keep smoothies?
The best way to drink smoothies is to drink right away. Oxidation will decrease the nutrients. However, if you keep an extra smoothie in the air-tight container, it will keep up to 24 hours. In general, smoothies keep longer than juice. Juice will keep for about 12 hours. Just use your eyes and nose to tell – if it smells off or looks dark brown don’t drink it.
How to store smoothies (& juices)
- Always make a double batch so you have a quick and healthy option in the refrigerator. You’ll have one for now and one for later.
- Store your drink in a glass container with an airtight lid. Fill the container to the very top to prevent air. Seal your container tightly and store it in the refrigerator.
- Add lemon juice to your smoothie or juice. The extra vitamin C will also help prevent oxidation.
- Make a huge batch of smoothies, freeze it in muffin tins. Once frozen, transfer the individual portions to a big, resealable freezer bag. Then when you want a smoothie, simply re-blend the amount you want with some liquid.
- Slow-release energy: The fiber in the drink slows down digestion so that energy is released slowly and evenly. You will feel full for longer after drinking it. Better than juicing when it comes to weight loss.
- Aids digestion: Blender keeps all the fiber in the contents. The fiber works its way through your digestive system, which helps to remove toxins and prevents constipation.
- No waste: Unlike juicing, you can consume everything including skins that contain nutrients.
- Smoothies are often more of a meal replacement
Smoothies can contain fruit that is difficult or impossible to juice, like mango and banana. It’s also easy to add ingredients like almond butter, cacao powder, or other superfoods. Unlike juice, a smoothie can be a meal replacement. You can add nuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, protein powder to increase your protein and fat that juicing lacks in.
- Faster and more convenient than a juicer
Blenders work at very high speeds, it’s quick to blend. The mouth is a lot bigger than the juicer, so it’s easier to put the ingredients in.
Unlike juicing, you can combine fresh produce, frozen fruits, ice, water, milk, etc. to volume up the smoothies. Blender is cheaper than a juicer and multi-functional.
Tools for smoothies
Blender and spatula/tamper are all you need to make smoothies.
A blender processes the whole fruit or vegetable, including the fiber and pulp. This makes a thicker smoothie which takes longer to digest.
The blending process doesn’t extract nutrients and water the same way juicing does. Instead, it grinds up entire fruits and vegetables, which includes fiber and all. You still get all the nutrients, but they are released more slowly. This satisfies your appetite and leaves you feeling fuller for longer.
Which blender to pick?
Blender isn’t so expensive considering it has multi-functions for your cooking compared to a juicer that is uni-purpose: juicing. Here are more details on blender vs juicer.
Higher-end blenders are more powerful than low-end models to be able to crush ice well without chunks of ice. You don’t need to buy the top of the line. Mid-range ones do the job well. Spend a bit more on the good quality one that can crush ice well. It’s a great investment for your smoothies and cooking.
A green smoothie will feature an ample portion of leafy greens, along with some fruit, healthy fats, and protein.
To make it tasty, it’s important to get the balance with your ingredients. Green smoothies that are all veggies, or mostly veggies can be tasty and beneficial for anyone who doesn’t like the taste of raw veggies.
- Greens: 1 Tbsp. greens powder or 2-plus cups veggies
Look for green powder that includes extra nutritious ingredients like prebiotic fibers, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and antioxidant-rich botanicals like ginger and turmeric—such as mindbodygreen’s organic vegetables + powder.
- Fruit: ½ to 1 cup fruit
Fruit adds a nice natural sweetness, plus antioxidants. Mix and match a couple of different fruits (e.g., ½ banana + ½ cup blueberries). Fresh fruit works just fine, but frozen fruit will give you a nice thick texture.
- Protein: 1 serving (or 1 to 2 Tbsp.)
Protein will give your green smoothie even more staying power. Try: collagen powder (which is great because it adds no flavor), protein powder, frozen peas, kefir, Greek yogurt, nut butter, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds.
- Healthy fat: 1 to 2 Tbsp., ½ avocado, etc.
If your protein source (e.g., nut butter) or liquid (e.g., coconut milk) already provides fat, you don’t need to add in additional fat. Try: coconut manna, coconut oil, MCT oil, avocado, nut butter, hemp hearts, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds.
- Flavor boosters: 1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. each
Add in as many flavor boosters as you’d like, remember combinations that work well together (cacao + cinnamon + cayenne). Try: cacao powder, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, mint, basil, lemon or lime zest, bee pollen.
- Liquid: 1 to 1½ cups
Adding a handful of spinach to a mostly fruity smoothie (acidic fruits like citrus or pineapple are particularly good) won’t give you any taste of greenness.
Green smoothie golden rule: 60% fruits : 40% leafy greens
1 cups (leafy greens) + 1 cups (liquid) + 1.5 cups (ripe fruits)
* 16 oz/serving. Use at least 1frozen fruit to chill the smoothie
- Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale
- Creamy Ingredient: banana, yogurt, coconut milk, or silken tofu.
- Fruit: Fruit adds natural flavor and sweetness. You can use fresh or frozen, and virtually any fruit works well here.
- Optional Enhancers: Feel free to add seeds (like chia or flax) nutritional supplements (protein powder) or flavors (like spices or honey).
How to blend green smoothies
You want to make sure leafy greens won’t ruin the smoothness. Blend the greens first with the liquid base, then add the rest.
Ditch ice and freeze fruits
Freeze your favorite fruits like ripe bananas (peel first), grapes, pineapple, or berries. This is also a great way to not waste ripe fruits (like a brown banana). You can also freeze your leafy greens in a freezer-safe bag. Just make sure to add your frozen greens straight to the blender (don’t defrost these).
Use raw natural sweeteners
Add naturally sweet fruits to any smoothie that tastes bitter or a bit too “green.” By sticking with naturally sweet fruits like bananas, mango, apples, pears or pitted dates, we avoid artificial sweeteners and processed sugars.
Make smoothies ahead
You can blend your green smoothie the night before and store it in your fridge (up to 2 days). Use an airtight lid to limit oxidation and keep it as fresh as possible. When ready to drink, give it a good shake before you open.
It’s more than an acai and pitaya bowl! Smoothie bowls are getting more popular.
What’s a smoothie bowl?
- contains more fruits and less liquid than smoothies – filling meal replacement
- slows you down your eating speed and encourages mindful eating by eating with a spoon, instead of straw
- allows you to put extra toppings for boosting health
Use frozen fruit to make the smoothie bowl thicker and use fresh fruits as a topping for the bowls. By using a lesser amount of liquid, you’ll get a thicker smoothie. Use the bare minimum you can to blend.
- Fresh or frozen no-sugar-added fruit
- Frozen banana (half)
- Unsweetened non-dairy milk, water, or coconut water
- Greens (a handful)
- Sugar-free plant-based protein powder:
- no sugar added (stevia and monk fruit)
- at least 20g of protein per serving
- ingredients that you know what they are
- Yogurt: dairy-free and without no added sugars
- fresh fruit
- grains: toasted buckwheat or popped quinoa
- seeds – hemp seeds (a complete protein), chia seeds (for omega-3s)
- low-sugar cereal or granola
- shredded coconut
- a drizzle of nut butter: almond and cashew butter
- Protein ball
Conclusion: Smoothies are fun to make and to eat! Just watch out the amount of sugar and calories overall, experiement and enjoy! Invest in a decent powerful blender since you can use it so many things.
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