We love smoothies in this house. Who doesn’t?! They’re quick to make, easy to clean up, good for on the go or a quick side or a snack. Did I mention a great way to get in more fruits and veggies in?! As a mom, I love that I’m sneaking in a boat load of nutrition in to a glass and the kids love the fun colours and delicious tastes. As easy as they are, some people don’t know where to start or what to include, so that’s why I wanted to write up some healthy smoothie basics for the smoothie newbies out there.
Please remember that this is not nutritional or medical advice. This is how we consume smoothies in our home, based off of information we have learnt from trusted professionals and feel comfortable applying to our daily life. Please see my disclaimers.
Smoothies are basically our family’s multivitamin – the recipes below are bursting with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, prebiotics, healthy fats, fibre AND MORE. One a day just might keep that Dr away 😉
Once you get the hang of smoothie making, you really don’t follow a recipe. You learn what works well together and the basics of what to include.
In every smoothie I make, I try to include:
- fruit (at least one that’s frozen for a thicker consistency)
The obvious liquids for a base are water or milk (we use homemade nut milks). These are great, fine and dandy.
If I’m going for a tropical smoothie, I use coconut water. It adds electrolytes and minerals and adds a perfect beachy vibe.
I sometimes use a cooled tea for the base. This is a fantastic way to add even more nutrition. Favourites of ours are chaga tea, hibiscus tea and nettle tea, but you could brew up anything! Just brew or infuse a large jug ahead of time, keep in the fridge and use it in that weeks smoothies.
We have 5 hungry mouths in our home to feed, so to ensure that there’s enough smoothie for me leftover, I often cut the kids’ cups about 1/4 full with bone broth! It adds nutrition, protein and makes that smoothie go further. They can’t tell it’s there at all. You could use this as the base for the entire smoothie if you’re feelin’ crazy!
I always make sure at least 1 type of fruit that will be in the smoothie is frozen. This helps to achieve a thicker consistency and makes it nice and cool. You have to be careful to not use too much frozen fruit, or it will be super thick and you will need more liquid. There’s a balance and you’ll get the feel for it! You can use ice if you did not plan ahead and you do not have any in the freezer. Ice will water down the taste, so keep that in mind.
I usually include at least 1 banana in our smoothies (more if it’s a banana drink – see recipe below!). I always keep bananas in the freezer. Once yellow, or if they’re starting to go spotty – peel, break into chunks and freeze in a bag. Frozen bananas help not only with thickness, but they make them creamy! The earlier you freeze them, the less of a banana taste you’ll have.
Other than bananas, we switch it up with other fruits. Common go-tos are: apples, lemons, oranges, mango, peaches, avocado, berries, pineapple, cherries and melons.
If you’re new to smoothie-land, you may be thinking that veggies don’t belong in your sweet drinks. Wrong! In the recipes I’ve got down below, you won’t even know there’s any veg lurking.
Common veggie additions to our smoothies are: leafy greens (usually spinach or kale), chopped frozen cauliflower, cucumber, celery, beets or carrots.
Spinach is a great place to start when introducing vegetables into your smoothies. You won’t be able to taste it, I promise! Does your smoothie go bad quickly in the fridge? As soon as you seem some slimy pieces, get the spinach into the freezer to save and use in your smoothies.
Frozen cauliflower is another good veggie to start with as there’s no taste of it at all. It even adds some creaminess! In my grocery store hauls, I usually buy 1 extra head of cauliflower, chop it up really small and keep it in the freezer.
I like to add some protein to our smoothies, as it helps to keep us all full longer. For us, I usually add in hemp hearts, collagen or nut butter. Yogurt and kefir (plain, unsweetened) are good options as well, but we keep that out of our smoothies for dietary restriction reasons.
We include fat to help keep those bellies full, as well as to help the body absorb all of the nutrients in the delicious drink! Fat is also an important energy source.
Most often, something that I’ve already added is an adequate fat source, such as the nut butters, hemp hearts, yogurt/kefir, avocado and nut milk. Other fat items that I add in are coconut oil, coconut cream, and flax seeds.
Smoothie not sweet enough?
When I need to sweeten up a smoothie, I add in 2-3 dates. They are absolute perfection in a smoothie. If you don’t have dates you could also use raw honey or maple syrup.
These are not at all necessary, but sometimes I bump the nutrition up even more with the below “super foods”:
- mushroom powders (favourites are reishi and chaga for immune support)
- camu camu power or baobab (for another food source of vitamin C)
- bee pollen
- cocao powder
- adaptogen powders (I usually reach for maca, ashwaganda or astragalus)
smoothie making tips
If your budget allows, invest in a high speed blender. We purchased a refurbished Vitamix 7 years ago, and have been incredibly pleased. They stand by their product with a long warranty, and the power is amazing. I like a smoooooth smoothie. If you do not have a high speed blender, do not let that stop you! You just may have to work a little harder to get everything blended up nicely.
If you do not have a high speed blender, blend your liquid with your greens first. No one wants to chew a salad when they’re supposed to be drinking a smoothie.
Like I mentioned up above, try to use only 1-2 frozen items at a time. Too many and you’ll need a spoon – smoothie bowls ARE a thing, but we prefer our smoothies in a cup with a straw :). Lots of frozen items also leads to a more watery taste.
Drink your smoothie right away instead of letting it sit. The nutritional value is decreases when you save it for later, and the tastiness level falls majorly too.
Get creative! The beauty of smoothie making is that it’s pretty hard to make a bad one.
I hope you found those tips helpful and the recipes yummy! Let me know which one’s your fav, and make sure to save them for easy access. Happy smoothie making!