Smoothies make a perfect drink or meal for just about anyone. Whether you are on a diet, or simply want a quick and healthy sip, or just want to enjoy a summer afternoon with something chilled, loaded with nutrients, a smoothie is the best bet.
In this article, you will get all that you need to know about smoothies, from how to make a perfect smoothie to the best smoothie recipes, the article tells you all.
Are Smoothies Healthy for You?
When all the ingredients that go into making a smoothie are healthy and filled with nutrition, the end-product is bound to be a healthy concoction too.
Smoothies are definitely healthy. Loaded with antioxidants, fruit sugars, and fibers, the recipes find a place in the menu of all health-based restaurants and food stores and have gained popularity over recent years.
Dietitians suggest that carefully choosing the smoothie ingredients can make it a balanced drink containing the right proportion of all nutrients. It is the right proportion of various ingredients that makes them a perfect breakfast drink to have on-the-go.
You can make a smoothie with practically any ingredient of your choice. But some essentials go into a perfect recipe.
A Liquid Base
As the name suggests, it is any type of juice or milk. Some options include all-natural, unsweetened juice or vegan milk. Dairy milk is equally good as long as you are not using it with citrus fruits.
Other options include whole, skim, or low-fat milk,ric milk, nut milk, etc.
This could be a fruit or any green veggie, like kale or spinach, which aids digestion of the fruit sugars.
It is that component of the recipe which adds to the nutritional value of the smoothie. It is an optional add-in, which could be a protein bar, seeds, energy mix, or just about anything that makes the drink wholesome.
A good thickener helps bring the blend to perfect consistency and prevents it from being too liquid.
Some good thickeners include all-natural sweetened or unsweetened yogurt. Regular, Greek, coconut milk yogurt, or soy yogurt also work well. But make sure you add minimal or no sugar if you are using a sweetened yogurt.
Fruit thickeners are also used in smoothies. These include banana, avocado, mango, kiwi, among many others. (Banana, yoghurt)
Sweeteners can be both artificial as well as natural. Though, using the latter is better if you are making smoothies for health reasons.
Natural sweeteners offer plenty of choices among dates, honey, molasses, maple syrup, honey, and bananas. This is apart from the sweetness added by the fruits.
If you are someone who prefers a chilly and frosty texture to your smoothie, you can consider adding ice. However if the recipe includes frozen fruits, they can replace ice in the ratio of 1:1.
Step By Step Guide on How to Make a Smoothie?
Smoothies are one of the easiest recipes ever tried in the kitchen.They are also versatile and suit every taste, season, and mood.
Smoothies are one of those few recipes that remain equally simple across all food genres. Whether you are a vegetarian or a vegan, there are plenty of options to try. In fact, the combination of ingredients is so diverse that you can try a new recipe each day and not get bored.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make that perfect smoothie.
Step 1: Add the liquid base to the blender. As detailed above, this could be any readily available liquid.
Step 2: Throw in the frozen and fresh fruits into the blender jar.
Step 3: Add your favorite granola bar or any nutritional protein powder of choice.
Step 4: Lid the blender jar and blend them to a homogenous consistency, and your smoothie is ready to serve.
Step 5: Transfer the smoothie to a jar or mug and enjoy the drink!
But remember, between the fresh and frozen fruits, you can decide to go for both or can include only frozen fruits if you want to keep the smoothie a little thick. Having fresh fruits will make it somewhat watery. That’s not actually bad but, if you are looking at it as a meal replacer (which you ideally shouldn’t!), frozen fruits are a better choice.
6 Tips For Making a Smoothie
Now that you know the basics about whisking up a smoothie, let me take you through some recommendations to make a great smoothie.
1. Get the Ratios Right
Blending the ingredients in the right proportion is a must for getting the desired consistency. After all, you don’t want your smoothie to be runny like a juice or be a gooey mess.
So to get that perfectly frozen yet soft smoothie,
- add two parts of the liquid base
- follow this up with a fruit of your choice in about three-quarters of the same measure
- Adding a banana now, will bring the desired thickness, and richness to the smoothie. It makes the smoothie more filling too. Berries, mango, pears, and apples work well too.
- Once blended, check the texture. If need be, add in some more fruits and play along till you don’t get the desired thickness.
- Also, you may want to add a hint of honey or maple syrup to raise the sweetness of the smoothie to the required level.
2. Use Nut Butters
Nut butter is a great option to make the recipe thicker. They blend remarkably well into any average smoothie and give it the required evenness without adding any overpowering flavor of their own.
3. Add Grains and Seeds
Adding grains like quinoa or oatmeal brings in natural proteins into the drink, not to mention the healthy fiber that they contribute.
Seeds like those from melons and pumpkin add a host of nutrients like healthy fats that fruits alone cannot supply.
4. Blend the Greens First
The health enthusiast in you may dictate the use of greens. But, ensure that the greens are blended first with the liquid base to completely shred them to bits. This will prevent chunky pieces that may disturb the smooth texture.
5. Use Ingredients that Contain Water
Rather than using water that has no nutrients, or juice which is high in sugar, using fruits that are rich in water is a better option. Raw ingredients like cucumber and watermelon not only add water to the recipe but also bring in vitamins and minerals along.
6. Invest in a Good Blender
Smoothies are the least demanding of all recipes in terms of the wattage and power of a blender. You don’t necessarily need a professional grade blender to enjoy smoothies.
Even a basic blender, with a 900-watt motor, can blend smoothies efficiently. Eventually, it only has to puree the ingredients, most of which are soft.
However, it is imperative that the blender is of good quality and meets some basic specs, which we will discuss towards the end of this article.
Alternatively, you can go for a high-end model but, you will be able to extract its worth only if you use it regularly.
With that understanding about the hows and whys of smoothie making, you are well-equipped to make a smoothie that will rock your taste buds.
But, for those of you who are still a bit shaky, here are some more tips on beating up a perfect smoothie in every possible way.
How to Make Smoothie without Yogurt?
One of the best things about a smoothie is its easy customization. I mean, the recipe is super-flexible, and you can replace any ingredient with an equally or more nutritious alternative.
Yogurt is easily replaceable with similarly textured
- coconut cream
- almond milk yogurt
- chia seeds, or
- protein powders
And, if you want totally fat-free options, you can try adding
- nut butter, or
- sweet potato
to the smoothie without trading the creamy, thick texture.
How to Make Smoothie without Milk?
Now that one is for all vegan smoothie lovers!
Milk is another component that can be substituted with multiple other ingredients. Some of these replacements include vegan milk options like milk from coconut, almonds, or rice.
Other options could be dates, banana, chia seeds, coconut water, fresh juice, or simply water. A combination of these ingredients could be an equally likely replacement for milk.
How to Make a Green Smoothie
The fitness and health freaks will love this one as much as those who want to include more green veggies in their diet.
Sneaking greens into a smoothie is one of the best ways to make them a part of your diet. Those who don’t particularly love the taste of greens will also enjoy this version as the fruits and other ingredients will mask, at least most of the taste of, the veggies.
But one thing you must ensure is to keep the proportion of greens right. Kale and spinach are great additions as they break down easily in a blender. Other options could be zucchini, acorn, pumpkins, cucumber, cauliflower, carrot, or beetroot.
Just blend them in water followed by a creamy base like yogurt or banana and add the optionals like chia or flax seeds, in addition to the fruits, and you are good to go.
How to Make a Smoothie Thicker?
As a beginner, you will often find the smoothie become too runny for want of thickening agents.
Here are a few ingredients and methods to prevent making your smoothie look like juice.
- Blending Proportions
Make sure you add the ingredients in the right ratio, as described in the earlier sections. But don’t get too finicky to get the exact proportion. A slight difference will not make much difference but large deviations can alter the consistency widely.
- Freeze Some Liquid
If you are going to use fruit juice as one of the ingredients, you can freeze some of it beforehand and use it instead of the liquid itself.
- Use Natural Thickening Agents
Adding raw oats or chia seeds will not only make the smoothie thick but also bring healthy fibers and proteins. The ground chia seeds begin to soak up the excess water thus, making the drink thick.
- Blend the Protein Powders First
If you are adding any nutria-bars or protein powders, blend them first with the liquid, right after the greens to avoid gritty texture in your smoothie. They will also work well towards thickening the smoothie.
- Use Least Amounts of Liquid
Now that’s a no-brainer! If you use liquid to the minimum, the smoothie will have lesser water and will be thick.
With those tips, I am sure you are about to whisk up some luscious, creamy, and delightful smoothie that will leave you wanting a lot more.
And now for some specifics, here are some ways to beat up a smoothie in a number of different ways to give you a new taste each day of the week.
Let’s take a look.
How to Make a Smoothie With Ice Cream
I know some of you want to make only the healthiest smoothies ever. But, I also know that there is an equal number of you (including me) who want to experiment and don’t mind adding a few unhealthy calories to your smoothie once in a while.
For the second kind of smoothie lovers, adding a dollop of ice cream to replace yogurt or any other creamy base is an option.
In a blender, toss in strawberries, banana, peaches, apples, and your favorite ice cream and blend them together to a smooth consistency, and your ice cream smoothie is ready!
What’s The Best Liquid For Smoothies
There are plenty of liquid bases to choose from, and which one fits the best in a smoothie depends on the ingredients used with it and of course, your taste buds.
You can choose dairy options like milk and yogurt, or have vegan options like juice (frozen/liquid), nut milk, rice milk, aloe water, watermelon water, maple water, coconut water, cold-pressed turmeric, or just plain water.
No matter which liquid you choose you will have plenty of other ingredients to modulate the taste with. So, just select any and don’t shy away from experimenting.
What Can I Use to Sweeten a Smoothie?
With options galore, you can choose between artificial and natural sweeteners.
But since we are planning on making a healthy drink, I am going to list out some of the best natural sweeteners which will up the taste but not the unhealthy calories.
This is nature’s bounty! Loaded with potassium, fiber, and a host of other minerals, banana is not only a great sweetener but also a good thickening agent.
- Medjool Dates
Another great sweetening agent, it is rich in essential minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and selenium and brings your smoothie to the required consistency and sweetness.
- Coconut Sugar
It is made by boiling and dehydrating the sap from the coconut palm. For this reason, it is called coconut palm sugar.
It has a distinct taste and gives the recipe an earthy sweetness which is unlike any other natural sweetener.
Molasses is a by-product of the sugarcane and beet sugar industry. Molasses is rich in nutrients and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron and can add a dash of sweetness loaded with nutrition.
- Maple Syrup
Rich in calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium, maple syrup is another great smoothie sweetener.
The list is endless but this should give you a fair number of sweeteners for your next recipe to add that hint of health and sweetness.
The Best Blender Type and Brand for Making Smoothies
Once you perfect the art of making epic smoothies, you will want to make them a regular part of your diet.
Investing in a good blender that will last you a long time will then be a necessity
While most blenders can easily puree fruits, greens, and the other smoothie ingredients to bring them to uniform thickness, the features that you will look for when purchasing a blender is that of durability and power.
In this effect, the Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series Smart Blender fits our bill for a powerful and sturdy blender.
It comes with five program settings – for smoothies, hot soups, dips & spreads, frozen desserts, and self-cleaning to allow you to operate per your need.
To complement the brilliant performance of the blender are the sleek looks and touch buttons that further add to the aesthetics of your kitchen counter.
Top Smoothie Recipes
And before I wind this post up, here are some smoothie recipes that you can try over the next few meals.
Banana Smoothie Recipe
What You Need
- 1 large banana
- half an orange
- 1 teaspoon plain or Greek yogurt
- water, or any non-dairy milk.
Just toss them all into the blender and mix them till they become smooth as a smoothie!
Remember, when you are adding any citrus fruit, make sure the liquid you use is non-dairy milk. But if you want dairy milk only, replace the citrus fruit with something that goes well with milk.
Strawberry Smoothie Recipe
This isn’t just delicious to eat but is a visual delight as well.
What You Need
- Eight medium strawberries
- ½ cup skim milk
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Six crushed ice cubes.
Just blend them in and serve this heavenly delight.
Green Smoothie Recipe
Did your face just go into a grimace? Hmm… you are not alone. But, trust me, this green smoothie recipe will change that perception.
What You Need
- 2 cups of leafy greens
- 2 cups of liquid base
- 3 cups of ripe fruit which could be a banana, mango, berries, pear, peaches, grapes, or any other fruit.
Blend the greens with the liquid base first. Then throw in the fruits and blend them again to a smoothie consistency.
Mango Smoothie Recipe
I know I sent your mouth watering. So without further delay, here are the ingredients.
What You Need
- 1 cup non-fat milk
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (plain, vanilla or honey will work)
- 1 ½ cups ice cubes
- 1 banana (if frozen, leave out some of the ice)
- 1 mango (about 1 cup chopped)
- ⅛ cup unsweetened coconut
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon honey
- chia seeds (optional)
Simply add all the ingredients into a blender and pulse until the desired consistency is reached.
Add more ice or a frozen banana for a thicker smoothie while adding milk will make it thinner.
Coffee Smoothie Recipe
Let’s admit it, most of us can’t resist ourselves being drawn to the aroma of coffee. So, here is a recipe that blends this soulful aroma with the goodness of fruits and dairy.
What You Need
- 1 tbsp ground coffee un-brewed, (not instant coffee)
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 1/4 cup brewed coffee, chilled
- 1/2 frozen banana (the riper, the sweeter)
- raw honey, as needed, for sweetness (and if not vegan)
- ice, as needed to thicken
And you know what to do next. Just put them in a blender and blend until smooth.
Breakfast Smoothie Recipe
This is for those of us who want to catch those extra 5 minutes of sleep and yet not miss out on breakfast. And yes, this is also for those who want to end their breakfast on a sweet note.
What You Need
- 1/4 cup uncooked oats
- half a banana
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¾ cup frozen mango
- ¾ cup frozen strawberries or ½ cup frozen blueberries
- ¾ cup dairy or vegan milk
Just blend them to a smooth texture and enjoy it on the go.
Kale Smoothie Recipe
This smoothie blends the earthy flavor of kale, masked by fruits, and the nut butter, that grants the recipe its creamy and thick texture.
What You Need
- 2 cups lightly packed chopped kale leaves stems removed
- 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or any milk of choice
- 1 frozen medium banana cut into chunks
- 1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup frozen pineapple pieces
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 to 3 teaspoons honey to taste
Blend them in a mixer and get high on kale.
Blueberry Smoothie Recipe
What You Need
- 1 ½ – 2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk or water
- 1 ½ cup frozen bananas
- ¼ cup almond butter
- nutritional boosters like ¼ cup oats and/or 2 tablespoons flax seeds
Mix the ingredients together. Taste it before serving. Add a natural sweetener, if need be, and serve it chilled.
Avocado Smoothie Recipe
This is my star recipe in this list. Grossly underrated, avocado can add a creamy texture to the smoothie to bring it at par with a vanilla variant.
What You Need
- half an avocado
- 1½ cup milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- a scoop of protein powder (optional)
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup or stevia to taste
Pulse it all in a blender and enjoy one of the creamiest smoothies ever.
Keto Smoothie Recipe
I can’t miss the keto diet lovers. So, here’s a smoothie recipe that will keep you satiated.
What You Need
- 1½ cup each of frozen strawberries, frozen raspberries
- 1 cup each of frozen blackberries and spinach
- 2 cups of coconut milk
- unsweetened shaved coconut for garnishing
Combine all ingredients except coconut and grind them well. Garnish with coconut and enjoy the concoction.
With that, you really have mastered the theory of how to make a smoothie. And when you eventually do make one, do drop in a comment to let me know how you enjoyed it.
Till then, happy smoothie-ing.