Back in February, I blogged about my new-found love for my recently acquired VitaMix blender. I’ve been putting it to almost daily use making all sorts of smoothies, so much so that I’ve pretty much got it down to a science. Good news is that you can use any blender, and I’ve got all of my tips and tricks right here for you!
Whipping up a smoothie is a quick and easy way of getting a lot of fruits, and even veggies, into your diet, but to get the most of this quickie snack or meal, it’s important to give some thought to what you’re throwing into your blender. Why? Because while your smoothie may be packing a nutritional punch, it can easily pack on the pounds too, which I’m guessing you’re likely trying to avoid. Here you’ll find some hard-earned tips that I’ve learned during my smoothie drinking adventures that will have you mixing up a nutritious, appropriately size and tasty drink in no time.
Start at the Base
Although smoothies are a mix of all sorts of different ingredients, you need a base – some form of liquid to get everything whirling around your blender. Trust me on this – cramming your Magic Bullet with frozen blueberries and a banana will leave you with the smell of burning plastic and some sort of a concoction that will never make it through a straw.. Milk is often used, and works just perfectly, but if you’re looking to keep it dairy-free, there are other good alternatives too. I’m personally a big fan of almond milk, which will get you the same creamy consistency as cow’s milk. I’ve also used water and even tea too, both of which are great to make a lighter, refreshing drink. If you’re using juice, keep in mind that one cup will add upwards of 100 calories to your drink, and since so many of them contain a lot of sugar, they often don’t give you a good nutritional bang for your caloric buck. If you really love juice in your smoothie, try to find a brand that is 100% fruit, like Ceres.
Once you’ve decided on a base, pour about a half cup into your blender for a snack-size serving. As the word implies – base goes at the bottom. If you have a Magic Bullet type of blender, put the base in last.
Bulk it up
Now the fun part! The fruit! Yes, please put some fruit in your smoothie. Ice-cream and chocolate syrup will turn it into a milkshake, and while that’s fun too, it’s not a smoothie. Be creative here! You would be surprised at the fun flavour combos you can create and just how tasty they can be. Feel free to use fresh fruit or frozen. My personal preference is to use about one cup of fresh fruit and half a cup of frozen fruit; it gives the smoothie a nice chill but not enough to turn it to a thick slush. If you want to use only fresh fruit, just throw in two ice-cubes to get a frosty drink.
But let’s not forget the veggies! Adding in a bit of cucumber or celery really gives a smoothie a refreshing taste and cut down on the sweetness of the drink. Spinach is one of my personal favourites for the simple fact that its flavour is almost undetectable and it adds in great nutrients. I dare you – throw a handful into your next smoothie and see how you like it.
Substance for sustinance
The point of everything we eat (well most of the time anyway), should be to feed our body and provide nutrition. But if we stick with just fruit, we’re going to drink up that smoothie and be hungry again in a half hour. Why? Because our bodies need more than just fruit to be satisfied for a few hours.
First thing is that your smoothie really should include some protein. Although you could throw in a chicken breast, I wouldn’t advise it, and if you do decide to try it please let me know how that goes. If you’ve used milk for your base, you’ve got a bit of protein there, but you might consider adding a bit more. For any dairy-free variation, you’ll want to add in a scoop of protein powder (check your health-food store for non-dairy protein powder). Look for something simple – try to avoid anything with flavouring or artificial sweeteners; you’re working hard to make a healthy, nutritious drink here, so the more natural, the better.
The scariest sounding element that also needs to be added in is fat. And yes, it’s important. Without a bit of fat in there, you won’t feel full, and although you would think it’s our sworn enemy, our bodies need fat to keep them running. The fats you put into your smoothie can add a lot of great flavours too! My personal favourites are almond butter and coconut oil. The almond butter will make your smoothie even creamier, and the coconut oil tastes like it sounds – tropical! I like to add a half tablespoon of fat for a meal-size smoothie, and half of that for a snack. You can also try throwing in a few slices of avocado too – they’ll make your smoothie just that – smooth and creamy.
Spice it up!
Think of herbs and spices as the finishing touches that can really make the flavours of your smoothie pop. Use your imagination and try a few things that might go well with a desert made using the same fruit as you’ve put into your smoothie. My personal favourite are ginger, mint, cinnamon and even cayenne pepper – guaranteed to wake you up!
On the go
It’s great that we can make delicious smoothies at home, but what about when we’re looking for something quick when we’re on the go? We’ve all seen places that blend smoothies for you while you wait, but before you place your order, make sure to ask about what they put inside. When I did, I found that many used frozen yogurt, sorbet and sometimes even ice-cream – all which contain a whole lot of sugar that I would personally rather avoid. In the best cases, they used 100% fruit juice as the base. The sizes are nothing short of humongous either, so before you ask for regular, have them show you the size of the cup first.
Has all this smoothie talk fuelled some cravings? Here is an easy recipe you can try to be sipping and slurping in no time!
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop brown rice protein powder (or other protein powder)
½ Tbsp almond butter
½ cup frozen mango
½ inch of grated ginger
3-4 mint leaves
Place ingredients into a blender in the order listed above (or reverse if you’re using a Magic Bullet). Blend until smooth. Makes 2 snack-size servings at 217 calories a piece.This post may contain affiliate links.
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Sylvie is a Dieppe, NB Canada based blogger who writes about her offbeat life with her musician husband, two marvelous daughters and shares her thoughts on living on the fence between reality and whimsy.
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