Healthy smoothie recipes can be created right in your own kitchen, as long as you know the right “formula”. By choosing truly healthy ingredients, vegetable and fruit smoothies become powerhouses of goodness – because of their taste AND their nutritional value.
Although the word smoothie conjures up images of pure health in a cup, most of the smoothies I see are quite the opposite. Sometimes they are loaded with refined sugars, dairy products and questionable “additives” that do little to support health or may even be detrimental. When you’ve got the right ingredients, not only is the smoothie beneficial to your health, it’ll taste great too.
The Base of a Healthy Smoothie
So you want to make yourself a smoothie – where do you begin? You begin with the fruit. Choose whole, ripe fruits that are either fresh or frozen. There are two fruits that will provide that creamy texture so characteristic of smoothies – bananas and mangos. Because of their pulpy flesh, they blend up perfectly and provide a great base for any smoothie.
Take your overripe bananas, chop them up, and freeze them for use in smoothies. You can do the same with mangoes, but because mangoes are kind of a pain in the be-hind to peel and chop up, you might just want to buy frozen, diced mango in the freezer section of the store.
You can use either bananas or mangoes, or both, but I highly recommend using at least one of them in every smoothie. Bananas will make the smoothie sweet and creamy, and mangoes will provide a delicious sweet tanginess. Next, decide what other fruits you’d like to use, the only limit is your imagination!
Vegetables – Optional But…Why Not?
With the fruits all taken care of, decide if you want to add some vegetables to the smoothie. Remember, these are healthy smoothie recipes and adding veggies kicks up the nutrition about a thousand notches!
There are some vegetables that just go great in smoothies and don’t change the taste very much, if at all. These include baby spinach, baby kale, carrots and celery. Whatever your favorites are, don’t be afraid to add them in. If you don’t have a high powered blender, like a Vitamix, cut up fibrous veggies like carrots and celery into small pieces, and you may want to strain out any larger pieces at the end. A high powered blender will liquify anything you throw in it, really!
One of the nicest things about healthy smoothie recipes is the fact that you can add in a lot of things that would be not-so-pleasant to eat on their own, but aren’t even noticable in the smoothie. I wouldn’t eat ground flax seed by the spoonful, for example, but adding it into my favorite green smoothie is a wonderful way to get it in my diet.
A note of caution about adding “stuff” to your smoothie – you can really go overboard with this (I know from experience!). Just because there’s lots of healthy ingredients that could be added, doesn’t mean the ALL should be added to the same smoothie. Many times this will just up the calorie or fat content of the smoothie to the point that it almost becomes UNhealthy. A couple add-ins are fine, just be mindful of their nutritional value (fat/calories).
|Ground Flax Seed||Chia Seeds||Hemp Seeds||Dairy-free Yogurt|
|Silken tofu||Nuts/Seeds/Butters||Cocoa Powder/Raw Cocao||Dates|
|Oats||Raw Coconut||Goji Berries||Whole Food Protein Powders|
|Spices||Fresh Herbs||Probiotic Powders||Brewer’s Yeast|
To finish off your healthy smoothie recipes, you’ll need to decide on a liquid. The healthiest choice is usually filtered or spring water, but unsweetened plant based milks like almond, soy, rice, etc. also add nutrients as well as creaminess without too many extra calories. Best to leave added sweeteners out, but if you need some extra sweetness, dates are best or a tablespoon of honey or agave should do.
For kids I tend to use regular plant based milks (occasionally even chocolate) and/or juices. I will usually dilute juices with water, or just add water and some honey or pure maple syrup or dates to sweeten.
Healthy smoothie recipes are easy to create if you follow the formula above. All it takes is a little experimentation to find just the right recipe that you or your family enjoys. If drinking smoothies is new to you, start with more fruit and less vegetables, and maybe a bit more sweetener. Over time, try to up the vegetables and decrease any added sweeteners and you’ll be amazed how your tastebuds change. I know some of the things I drink and enjoy now, I probably couldn’t have gagged down 10 years ago!
Step by Step Tutorial: How to make a smoothie