I love smoothies—particularly, green smoothies.
They're a great (and sneaky) way to load up on many important vitamins and minerals.
One leafy green smoothie mixed with some berries and a few other delicious ingredients can provide much-needed vitamin D, C and minerals like zinc, iron and help load up a good amount of your daily fiber.
While others with a super fatty fruit like avocado can help you take in healthy fat such as monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acids, which are the same fatty acids olive oils get praised for.
Healthy nutrient list perfect for any type of nutritious weight loss smoothies or even stay-slim forever drinks go on and on.
And you would think such powerful and delicious drink is hard to make.
Not even close.
Smoothies are super easy to make and almost impossible to mess up— unless you are like few of us whose smoothie-making is nothing but a random ingredient mash-up that ends with a sub-par result.
In this post, I'll show you how to blend together one of the most powerful drinks all under 5 minutes in 5 easy steps.
It's one formula that works every single time, whether you are making a kale smoothie or strawberry banana smoothie. Your smoothie will be nothing short of a nutritionally balanced, perfectly creamy, and super yummy healthy drink—guaranteed.
So, let's get started.
How to make the perfect smoothie in 7 steps
* Scroll down past the image to get the ingredients and the steps.
Step 1. Get the Right Ingredients
The first place to start is "what do you need to make a smoothie".
Whether smoothies are your breakfast staple, pre or post workout snack, or go-to healthy dessert, they are a great way to meet your daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals and up your vegetable and fruit servings.
And this is important since 75% of the U.S. population sans children are deficient in vitamin D, staggering 30% of the world's population is deficient in iron, only about half of Americans are taking sufficient levels of magnesium, and less than 5% of meets the recommended fiber intake (1, 2, 3, 4).
Taking in more nutritious foods on a daily basis is inevitably important for many of us. And you are in luck since smoothies are the easiest way to pack in whole a lot of essential nutrients.
But that's not to say, there is no pitfall in making this healthy drink. In fact, it's too easy to fall for it unless you intentionally avoid it.
"Depending on the ingredients they're made with, smoothies can quickly turn into unhealthy calorie-bombs filled with sugar and saturated fat." comments "Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D" on unhealthy smoothies.
She advises "a good smoothie should contain a blend of ingredients with protein and fiber to help keep you full and provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.".
To make sure your smoothies are packed with nutrients and vitamins that boost your energy and bring fullness, include ingredients from all three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Also, if you are trying to lose weight, don't miss weight loss essentials like fiber and antioxidants.
Let's dive in.
Contrary to the popular belief, there are a handful of protein options for blended drinks besides protein powders.
Some are vegetarian-friendly, some are not.
But these protein sources are rich in iodine, Vitamin B12, calcium, and magnesium. (See Step 2 for serving suggestions)
- Natural peanut butter (unsweetened and unsalted)
- Almond butter
- Seed Butter
- Nut milk
- Protein powders
Thinking of adding fresh eggs? According to SafeEggs.com, adding fresh eggs to your smoothie is a great way to incorporate one of the nature's most nutrient-dense natural foods that provide high-quality protein and other nutrients such as vitamin B12, D, and antioxidants such as folate and riboflavin.
But that does not mean, you can and should use any raw egg.
If you are adding raw eggs to your blend, choose pasteurized eggs free of Salmonellas to avoid salmonella bacteria related illness.
Nutritious carbs include vegetables, fruits and grains like oats. Depending on your liking and needs, you can do just one food group (say, just fruits) or combine ingredients from multiple carb groups (oats and fruits).
Carb ingredients are not only vital sources of nutrients but also often essential in flavoring smoothies, so make sure you have plenty of healthy, fresh ingredients ready to blend!
Also grains and dense fruits like bananas and avocados are an excellent way to thicken and add creaminess to your drinks.
If you find your drinks to be too runny or watery, try adding these thickening carb agents.
Best Fruits for Smoothies.
Use fresh fruit or frozen fruit.
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
Best Vegetables for Smoothies.
Use raw vegetables.
Oat smoothies are nothing new, but they are certainly not the only grains you can put in your blended drinks.
Cooked grains like brown rice and quinoa add extra protein and fiber and bulk up a smoothie, which helps you stay full longer.
I know what you are thinking. Rice doesn't belong in smoothies! but "the neutral flavors pairs with most combs and give your mixture oomph.", Assures Elizabeth Beal, Whole Foods Blogger on adding cooked grains to your smoothies.
Be sure your rice and quinoa are cooked first before put into a blender.
- Old-fashioned oats
- brown rice
Don't worry. Just because I'm a health nut doesn't mean I'll advise you to put ghee into your smoothies!
But I do recommend adding healthy fats like nuts, seeds, coconut milk, seeds and avocado into your smoothies for an extra fat.
And this tip goes for those trying to lose weight as well. According to HelpGuide.org, while all fats (good or bad) contain the same 9 calories per gram, the effects each fat type has on the body cannot be any more different.
Unsaturated fats, also known as healthy fats help with mood management, mental health, energy levels, and even weight management and are greatly encouraged as part of a healthy diet.
There are two types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
These fats are known to benefit insulin levels and controlling blood sugar, an essential effect especially to those with type 2 diabetes.
Thus, the goal of daily fat intake is not to avoid fats altogether, but to replace bad fats with good ones— fats that are healthy and beneficial to bodily functions and weight management.
Below, you'll find a list of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats you can add to your daily mix of nutrients.
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
- Natural peanut butter (containing just peanuts and salt)
- Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines) -in a form of liquid supplement
- Non-GMO sources of soymilk and tofu
Another essential fatty acids you want to consider including in your drinks is Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that plays a vital role in cognitive function as well as emotional health. Because two out of three omega-3s are marine omegas and found in fish, omega 3 fatty acids are often referred to as fish oils.
Omega-3s numerous health benefits have been cited and proven by multiple studies, and because they are so essential in our health, we covered health benefits of omega 3s and their studies.
As mentioned earlier, there are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA, DHA, and ALA. EPA and DHA are found in abundance in fish, especially the fatty fish.
ALA is the only acid that comes from plants. Research suggests that ALA is less potent than the other two omega-3 fatty acids, but you can find them in vegetarian sources such as flaxseed and walnuts that are smoothie friendly! Here are a few omega-3 options you have.
Vegetarian sources of omega-3s
- Algae such as seaweed (high in EPA and DHA)
- Fish oil or algae liquid supplements
- Chia seeds
Adding Flavor to Your Smoothie
The easiest way to spice up and take your beverages up a notch is to add a teaspoon or two of these antioxidant-packed spices. Surprisingly or not, they can do a lot more than just add a punch to your smoothies.
Turmeric, and ginger are soothing not only to your taste, but also to your health.
Turmeric and ginger have long been used in traditional medicine to remedy various healthy problems including gastrointestinal problems and inflammation.
Cinnamon, one spice that pairs perfectly with any banana smoothie is also a medicinal spice. According to Joseph Nordqvist and Megan Ware RDN LD of Medical News Today, cinnamon has been used (and highly prized) in Ancient Egypt since 2000 BC as a panacea to treat things like coughing, arthritis and sore throats.
For more refreshing taste, herbs like mint, parsley, and cilantro are an excellent way to give your green smoothies a reviving touch. Like spices, herbs also contain soothing effects that promote digestion and treat inflammation.
Also extra add-ons such as vanilla extract and cacao powders can be used in any smoothies to bring out flavors and add a tad of culinary twist to your everyday drink.
Cacao powder in particular is my favorite as it turns any smoothie into a chocolatey heaven without turning them into a sugar bomb or heavy-weight calorie fiasco.
- vanilla extract
- Cacao powder
- Matcha green tea powder
- coconut flakes?
Liquids are necessary part of any smoothies, and it doesn't have to be plain water.
Coconut water, iced green tea, non-dairy milk, even coconut milk make a great liquid option for blended drinks. The only rule is, leave fruit juice out of your blend.
You don't need to pack in any unnecessary sugar in your drinks when other fruits are already adding natural sweetness.
And that leads us to the list of NOT TO ADD!
To keep your blended beverages as healthy and delicious as can be, ditch these ingredients containing full of unwanted things like sugar, calories.
- Sugar-sweetened fruit juice or concentrate
- Flavored yogurt
- Flavored kefir
- Whipped cream
- Ice cream
- Chocolate syrup
- Chocolate milk
- Condense milk
- Cocoa mix
- Canned fruit in syrup
Step 2. Create the Perfect Blend
To make a smoothie that's perfectly creamy, filling, nutritious and delicious, you want to have the right ratio of produce, grains, protein, fat, and liquid. For one serving of drink, follow the mixology guide below:
- Fruits: 1 cup fresh or frozen fruits. If you are adding fresh banana, go for 1 small banana or 1/2 large banana. Ice cubes are optional if you are using frozen fruits.
- Greens: For leafy vegetables like collard greens and kale, use 1 to 2 leaves without stems. For other vegetables, toss in about 1/2 cup or a handful (whichever easier to measure). Surprisingly, kale, spinach, carrots and even avocado don't give your smoothie too much of veggie bitter taste. So don't be intimidated and afraid to add a handful. You'll be surprised how sneakily you can add these superfoods to your blend. Use only fresh raw vegetables. Don't use frozen veggies.
- Grains: If you are planning to drink your smoothie as a meal replacement, consider adding a 1/4 cup of grains to add bulk and extra fiber to your meal. It helps you stay full longer and prevent unnecessary mid-day snack attack.
- Healthy fat: For nut butter and seed butter, measure in with a tablespoon. A spoonful is just enough, but if you like yours to be nutty, add two spoons. If you are adding some avocado as fat, 1/4 avocado adds just the right creaminess and richness without it being overpowering. If you are adding chia seeds (1-2 teaspoons), add extra liquids as they tend to soak up liquids and make your drink more gelatinous. Need extra omega 3s? Add in a teaspoon of liquid omega-3s.
- Protein: Aim 1/4 cup for yogurt. Keep in mind that Greek yogurt is much creamier and thicker than regular yogurt. If you are adding tofu, make sure to use silky one, so it blends better with the rest of your ingredients. 1/8 to 1/4 tofu pack is more than enough for one serving. Adding some protein powders? Add a scoop for the extra boost.
- Liquid: 1/2 to 3/4 cup is enough to get your smoothie blended without it getting too watery. When in doubt, start with a smaller amount and add in extra as you go. This goes same for all liquid types including milk, non-dairy milk, green-tea, coconut water and kefir.
- Herbs or spices: Spice up your beverage with a teaspoon or two of dried spices. For herbs, just a few leaves would ramp up the flavor and add a refreshing taste.
- Ice: If you are missing freezed ingredients, add 3-5 ice cubes to make your smoothie frosty. It also adds volume and enhance flavors without adding any extra calories.
Step 3. Add in any extra
There are many natural ways to make your smoothies sweet and flavorful without adding any sweetener, but depending on your combo, adding just a tad extra sweetness would make your drink much more slurpable.
If you want to sweeten your drink, add a teaspoon of sweetener whether that is honey, agave or molasses.
But anything more can make your smoothie a sugar bomb and an unhealthy drink, so limit to just a teaspoon.
Step 4. Add Ingredients in the Right order
Not everyone knows it, but there is a right way (and wrong way) to add in your ingredients. When added in the right order, your smoothie will have much more smootheir, richer consistency, and all ingredients get blended much smoothly without leaving chunks.
The general rule of thumbs is, add in frozen fruits (except ice) first then fresh fruits and veggies.
Nut butters, yogurt, grains, powders, and spices to follow in that order.
Last thing to add is liquid.
The reason behind is that you want tougher ingredients to be closer to your blades. Less dense and eaiser-to-blend items can go last and be further away from them. Also don't add in honey at the bottom of your container, as it tends to stick and not blend.
Drizzle on top of the liquid instead.
Step 5. Blend away
Exactly how long to hold the "blend" button totally depends on the power of your blender.
But even for the creamiest texture, it shouldn't take any more than 2-3 minutes for all ingredients to blend up and create rich consistesy.
Once your blender stops making chopping sounds, run it for an extra minute or so until it reachers the desired consistensy. If you like chunks left in your smoothie, a minute of pureeing might just be perfect.
Step 6. Add Ice
Leave out the ice at first and add as needed. Adding ice too early in the process can over blend the ice and make your drink too watery.
Plus, you never know how thick or thin your smoothie will be until you blend it.
Step 7. Drink up & Enjoy
Drink it up while it's still cold and frothy. Don't let it sit for more than 15-20 mintues.
Ice will melt, and your smoothie can start to separate and change its consistensy. The best time to enjoy it is right after you make it.
If you must, store it in the fridge until you can drink it, but expect change in the color, taste and consistensy.
Need some ideas for healthy smoothie recipes? Check out these 5 delicious smoothie recipes that are healthy and super easy make.