How to Make a Healthy Smoothie

How to Make a Healthy Smoothie

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. 

Is it healthy to have a smoothie for breakfast? 

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. 

Spinach Cherry Smoothie in a glass

Ingredients for a healthy smoothie 

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. 

Pretty much any fruit can be added to a smoothie 

Raspberry almond protein 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. 

Best Vegetables for smoothies 

Bowl of baby spinach

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 for smoothies 

Avocados

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: 

  • Almonds and almond butter 
  • Avocado 
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp seeds/hemp hearts 
  • Peanut butter (the natural kind) 
  • Walnuts 

How to add protein to smoothies

Cherry Matcha Protein Shake

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: 

  • Greek yogurt (unsweetened and full-fat or 2% fat) 
  • Hemp seeds/hemp hearts 
  • Kefir 
  • Nut butters (including peanut, almond, cashew, and hazelnut) 
  • Protein powder 
  • Quinoa, cooked 
  • Silken tofu 
  • Soy milk 

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. 

Additional healthy flavorings for smoothies 

Blueberry muffin smoothie
Smoothies

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: 

  • Cocoa nibs 
  • Extracts, such as almond, mint, orange, or vanilla 
  • Maca powder
  • Matcha powder
  • Oats 
  • Raw honey 
  • Spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, or turmeric 

Ingredients to leave out 

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: 

  • Canned fruit in syrup 
  • Flavored syrups, including chocolate syrup 
  • Flavored yogurts 
  • Ice cream 
  • Sherbert
  • Sorbet 
  • Sugar-sweetened fruit juices or concentrates 

How to make a healthy smoothie 

Frozen bananas, fresh cherries and spinach in 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. 

Step 1: Use a high powered blender

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. 

Step 2: Layer ingredients 

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: 

  1. Liquids
  2. Leafy greens
  3. Protein and superfood powders 
  4. Sweeteners, including dates and dried figs 
  5. Soft ingredients, including yogurt, tofu, fresh fruit, nut butters
  6. Nuts and seeds
  7. Frozen ingredients and ice 

Step 3: Blend 

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. 

Step 4: Enjoy immediately 

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. 

Pouring spinach and cherry smoothie in to glass

Additional tips for making smoothies even easier 

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: 

  • Make spinach (or other leafy green) ice cubes. Simply blend 5 ounces of any leafy green with ⅔ cup of water. Pour into an ice tray and freeze. 
  • Pre-portion fruits and vegetables for one smoothie into individual serving bags and keep in the freezer. Write smoothie instructions on the bag, so when you’re ready to make one, simply pull out the bag and add remaining ingredients per recipe. 
  • Buy extra berries when they’re in season/on sale for freezing. 
  • Slice bananas before freezing. 
  • Taking your smoothie to go? Place it in a shaker bottle with a blender ball. This way, if it separates, you can easily shake it all back together again. 

Easy healthy smoothie recipes 

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. 

Cold busting wild blueberry smoothie with fresh blueberries

Healthy green smoothie recipes 

High protein smoothie recipes

Healthy vegan smoothie recipes 

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About Kelli McGrane Headshot

I’m Kelli MS, RD, and my mission is to prove that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. Follow along to learn more about food and cooking, with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

About Kelli McGrane Headshot

Welcome to The Healthy Toast!

Here you’ll find healthy breakfast recipes designed by a registered dietitian with your health goals in mind.

As a dietitian I understand that a healthy breakfast is essential for giving you the fuel you need to power through your day. Which is why on TheHealthyToast, you’ll find nutrition guides plus the best healthy breakfast recipes for every diet and lifestyle.

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