Smoothie 101: How to Build a Nutritious Smoothie
Starting the day off with a smoothie is a delicious and fun way to get a healthy dose of plant-based nutrients. Plus, blending up foods helps out your digestive system since the blender does most of the work to break down your food. Ideally, you should build a smoothie that contains a nice balance of macro-nutrients if you’re looking to enjoy one as a meal replacement. That means making a smoothie full of nutrients that keeps you feeling fuller for longer and contains what you need when it comes to protein, fats, and carbs. With these easy steps, you’ll also be getting lots of fiber and hydration, two key things for good digestion. Use what you have and what you love because it’s super easy to build a delicious smoothie at home!
1. Liquid – Choose a liquid base. A liquid base will help give your smoothie the right consistency. A good place to start is by adding one cup or more. If you’re after a thicker smoothie or smoothie bowl, then simply use less liquid.
Some examples of liquid bases are:
- Plant-based milk ( a great way to add in extra nutrients).
- Coconut water (added electrolytes).
- Water (hello hydration!).
- Juice (a little extra sweetness).
2. Greens – Make it Green! Adding in a handful of greens (around 1 cup) is an excellent way to increase your smoothie’s antioxidant content and sneak in some extra fiber. Plus, paired with your favorite fruits, these greens become almost undetectable. Don’t have any fresh greens on hand? Frozen greens work just as well.
Some popular options: kale, spinach, romaine, or Swiss chard.
Herbs count as greens too! Try blending up some parsley, basil, or even cilantro. With herbs, you can use a little less around 1/2 cup as they have a robust flavor.
Tip – Blend the liquid and the greens first before adding in any other ingredients. This helps keep things smooth and makes sure that those greens get really “chewed up.”
3. Fruit and veggies – (1-2 cups) Add in at least one cup of fruit. Frozen is best, but fresh works too (you may want to add some ice). Frozen fruit makes it rich and creamy, the perfect consistency for a smoothie. You can choose any fruit you prefer; however, berries are always a great option since they are lower in sugar and rich in antioxidants. If you’re after a smoothie bowl, then frozen bananas are especially great. Plus, bananas are great at masking the taste of leafy greens if you’re sensitive to the flavor!
Examples of fruits and veggies:
- and cucumber
4. Fat — Avocado, oils, seeds, nuts, or nut butters can make your smoothie extra filling, plus provide a healthy dose of fat. Just be aware that these ingredients can also increase the calories quickly. Ideally, opt for 1 or 2 tablespoons of nuts or seeds or if you’re adding avocado, you should add in no more than half. Hemp seeds are another fantastic choice, as they blend in extra creaminess to a smoothie.
Some delicious examples are:
- almond butter
- peanut butter
- hemp seeds
- chia seeds
- flax oil
- or sesame seeds
5. Protein – Protein powders are ideal for smoothies. If using a flavored protein powder, avoid adding too many other flavor boosters such as those listed in step 6. If you don’t have a protein powder on hand that’s fine, you can also make your own by adding whole nuts or some other healthy fats listed above, which can also boost the amount of protein in your smoothie. Another popular option is silken tofu or cooked quinoa. If using soy milk, it can also double as your protein and your liquid!
6. Flavour Town- Add some flavor and nutrient boosters with things like spices or powders. Get as creative as you want! If you’re going to sweeten a smoothie, then some ideal natural sweeteners are dates or maple syrup. However, sweeteners are usually not needed because the fruit is naturally sweet.
Examples of flavour enhancers:
- cocoa powder
- matcha powder
Grains are also a great option to add to smoothies, especially if you’re looking to build one with extra fiber. A couple of grains that blend well are oats and cooked brown rice. A neutral flavor, these pair well with most smoothie combos.
7. Ice – Ice can add volume to your smoothie, and since it’s colder, it takes longer to drink. Drinking slowly is beneficial for your digestion, and you may find it creates a greater satisfaction and enjoyment as you linger over your smoothie sips. It’s totally “cool” to omit this step, too, as some people do not enjoy cold drinks.
Lastly, blend on high for 1-2 minutes depending on your blender.
Get creative with your blends, and have fun making them. Ask your friends what’s their favorite go-to smoothie recipe, search the web, or just go for it using these helpful tips! Remember to rotate the ingredients used in the smoothies every few days to make sure you are getting different varieties of foods/nutrients in your diet.