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Five Easy Steps to Build the Perfect Smoothie

Smoothies are great because they are so versatile and are chock-full of nutrients. The key to building a great smoothie is to start with your base. Once you’ve selected what to use as your base, you can add in thickening agents, protein, and extra nutrient boosters. Use this formula to create a variety of nutrient-dense flavors!

Any type of fruit, vegetable, or combination of the two will work great for the base of your smoothie. The key is to pair flavors together to create a balanced smoothie that is rich in nutrients and that tastes good. Ideally, fruits and vegetables will be frozen to help create a cold, creamy smoothie. Start with 1 cup of fruits/vegetables. Here are some ideas to include:

Fruit

Veggies

  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Mango
  • Peaches
  • Oranges
  • Pineapples
  • Cherries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Pumpkin or squash
  • Carrots
  • Beets

Protein is an important component that is often forgotten in many smoothie recipes. If you plan to drink a smoothie as a meal, it is especially important to include protein to help keep you full until you eat next. Aim to include at least 20 g of protein per smoothie if you plan to drink one as a meal.

    • Pre-made protein shakes: Also doubles as your liquid! My favorite are Premier Protein, which have up to 30 g protein per shake.
    • Protein powders: Protein powders can be more economical than pre-made protein shakes, especially if you plan on making smoothies often. Pick a flavor that you’ll be able to use in a variety of smoothie combinations so you can reuse it. Vanilla is often a good choice.
    • Collagen powder: Collagen is an underrated way to get in additional protein while promoting joint, skin, and gut health. Collagen will provide slightly less protein than traditional protein powders, so make sure to include a balance of healthy fats to promote satiety. My favorite collagen powder is Vital Proteins.
    • Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is high in protein compared to regular yogurt, with ~11 g per 1/2 cup. Plain greek yogurt will compliment most smoothie flavors while adding a creamy texture.
    • Nut butters: Nut butter such as peanut butter or almond butter can add an extra dose of protein and richness to the smoothie. Powdered nut butters, like PB2, can provide the same amount of protein in fewer calories.

    The best part of a smoothie is the texture. Smoothies should be thick and creamy, not runny and watery. Simple additions to your smoothie can help create the perfect texture. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

    • Frozen banana: Add 1/2 to 1 frozen banana to make the creamiest smoothie. Be mindful of the other flavors in your smoothie, as banana will often standout.
    • Frozen cauliflower: A great way to include a veggie for any picky eaters! Don’t worry, the cauliflower flavor is masked by any fruit that is included in the smoothie, making it an excellent way to thicken your smoothie in fewer calories and include a serving of vegetables. Start with 1/2 cup and go from there. Tip: cauliflower rice is easier to blend!
    • Unflavored Oats: Both rolled and quick oats will work. Start by adding 1/4 cup of oats, adding more as needed, until your smoothie reaches the right consistency.

    Before blending your smoothie, make sure to include a liquid! Ideally, liquids will be lower in sugar. Start with 1 cup, adding more as needed to reach the ideal consistency. Remember, you can always add more liquid! Don’t put too much initially, otherwise your smoothie may be thin and runny.

    • Coconut water: Coconut water is rich in potassium, making it great for hydration. It’s a good option if you want something lower in calories and sugar that still provides some flavor. Coconut water pairs really well in a fruit-based smoothie.
    • Tea: Tea is a great option to include in smoothies because it is zero calories and can provide an additional boost of caffeine! My favorites to include are green tea or black tea.
    • Milk: Milk can also double as a protein! You can choose regular dairy milk (whole, 2%, or skim) or try other options like soy milk, almond milk, or oat milk.
    • Juice: Juice can help to enhance some of the fruity flavors that are already in your base, or it can help add a touch of sweetness to a vegetabe-based smoothie. Opt for 100% juice rather than ones with added sugars.

    Want make your smoothie even more nutritious? Consider blending in chia, flax, or hemp seeds for additional benefits!

    • Chia seed: Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart-health. Try adding 1 tbsp for additional fiber, protein, and antioxidants.
    • Flax seed: Like chia seed, flax seed is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seed can also help to thicken your smoothie. Add 2 tbsp for an additional 4 g of fiber.
    • Hemp seed: Add 1-2 tbsp for additional protein and fiber! Try blending in your smoothie or adding on top for a crunchy topping.

    Once you’ve selected all of your ingredients, throw them together in your favorite blender and blend until you reach the desired consistency. Enjoy!

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