Love smoothies? Find out all you need to know about how to make a healthy smoothie along with a list of my go-to easy healthy smoothie recipes.
Smoothies tend to be a polarizing topic in nutrition. While some see them as an easy way to pack a bunch of nutrition into a small package, others feel that they’re essentially milkshakes in disguise.
So which is it? Well, it depends on the smoothie. Let’s talk about the potential benefits of smoothies and how to make one that’s not only healthy, but also creamy and delicious.
Let’s start with what many of you may be wondering: is it healthy to have a smoothie for breakfast? Generally yes, but it depends on the ingredients.
If you were to look up the nutrition facts for popular stores like Jamba Juice, you’d likely be stunned at how many calories and sugars are in their products, as well as how low they are in protein and fiber.
But, by making your own at home, you have full control over your ingredients. And this means that you can build a drink to meet your personal nutritional needs.
So, if your smoothie is balanced and made with whole ingredients, then absolutely it’s a healthy option. Plus, for those who either don’t have much of an appetite or time in the morning, a smoothie can be a great way to get all the nutrients you need with very little effort.
Regardless of if you’re having a smoothie, overnight oats, or a granola bar, the key to making any breakfast option a healthy one is having protein, fiber, healthy fat, and at least one serving of fruits or vegetables.
So, when making a smoothie the general formula is: liquid + fruits and/or vegetables + healthy fat + protein + additional flavorings (optional).
Here are a few ideas of healthy ingredients that you can add to make a healthy smoothie.
I can’t think of a fruit that you couldn’t add to a healthy smoothie. Here are some of my go-to’s:
Feel free to get creative by using a fruit you may have never tried before like dragon fruit or lychee.
Top tip: When possible, use frozen fruit. This will make your smoothie much more creamy – plus you likely won’t need to add any additional ice.
For me, the main benefit of smoothies is that they can help fit in an extra serving of vegetables. Especially since I don’t love eating leafy greens in salads, smoothies are my main way of packing in a serving or two.
When adding vegetables to a smoothie, I recommend using either fresh or frozen, and cutting them into chunks before throwing them in the blender.
Here are some of the best vegetables to add to your smoothies:
Keep in mind that depending on the type and amount of veggies you’re adding, you may need to adjust other ingredients in the recipe based on how you want your drink to taste.
Healthy fats not only up the filling power of your smoothie, but they can also provide nutritional boost depending on the ingredient.
For example, nuts and seeds are rich in important vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium and vitamin E. Additionally, seeds like chia, flax, and hemp, also provide essential omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce chronic inflammation.
Some healthy fats to throw in:
If you’re having a smoothie for breakfast or as a post-workout meal, it’s important that you also include a source of protein.
Protein ideas for smoothies:
Protein powders are an obvious choice, but there are plenty of whole food options as well. Just note that if you do decide to use a protein powder, make sure to do your research ahead of time.
Not sure what makes for a healthy protein powder? Check out my post over on Lose It! here.
If all of those other add-ins aren’t enough, here are some more ingredients that you can add in for extra flavor and (possibly) nutrition:
To keep your smoothie from being more like a dessert, the key is to keep added sugars to a minimum. Here are some ingredients that will rack up the sugar count and are best left out of the blender:
Now that you have your ingredients, let’s walk through some tips and tricks for how to make a super creamy smoothie at home.
Especially if you’re planning on blending greens or vegetables, you’ll want to make sure that your blender is strong enough to fully break everything down. After all, no one wants chunks in a smoothie.
While I know many people swear by Vitamix blenders, my recommendation is the Ninja Mega Kitchen System. For less than $200, you get a high-powered bender, food processor, and a mini blender that not only makes single-serving smoothies, but also works as a to-go cup with a lid.
As fun as it is to just throw everything into a blender and press start, the order in which you add your ingredients can actually affect the final texture.
Here’s my general order for adding things in, starting with ingredients closest to the blade and working up:
This is another step that sounds obvious, but actually has a little more to it.
Rather than going full-power right away, you’ll get a smoother consistency by starting slow and gradually increasing the speed.
Now, if your blender already has a smoothie setting, all you have to do is press that button and you’re set.
But for blenders where you’re in full control, start at a low speed for about 20 seconds and then gradually increase the speed to high until everything is fully blended and creamy. You may need to stop half way through to give it a stir.
For green smoothies, if you have trouble getting your spinach completely pulverized, then i recommend blending your greens and liquids together first. Once the greens are completely broken down, add remaining smoothie ingredients and blend.
When you blend fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds, you’re breaking down their cell walls. While this makes them easier to digest, it also means that they will go bad faster.
As a result, you want to drink your smoothie relatively soon after blending it. While you’re find to blend and bring in the car with you, I don’t recommend waiting more than an hour to drink it.
I also don’t recommend making your smoothie ahead of time and storing it in the fridge.
Instead, if you’re super tight for time in the morning, you can put all the ingredients in the blender and pop the blender in the fridge overnight. However, frozen ingredients will thaw overnight, so your smoothie won’t be as thick and creamy.
As easy as smoothies are to make, there are ways to make the process even more efficient.
Here are a few tips and tricks I use:
Now that you have probably more information on smoothies than you’d ever want, let’s get to the good stuff! Below are a few easy healthy smoothie recipes to get you started.
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