Smoothies are refreshing and delicious. And most of the time, they're also super-healthy. The best way to guarantee you're drinking a healthy smoothie and not a milkshake in disguise is to make them at home. Not only do you get to control the ingredients, but also the cost is lower (those fancy-smoothie-shop trips can add up). Whether your goal is to eat breakfast more often, get some fruit and vegetable servings in the morning or eat healthier in general, this guide to making smoothies at home will help get you there.
Related: Healthy Smoothie Recipes
Fruit is the base of most smoothies and with fruit alone you can create so many different flavors. You can make smoothies with fresh or frozen fruit or a combination of the two. Stock your freezer with a variety of frozen fruit. Just be sure to buy frozen fruit without any added sugar. You can also save overripe bananas and berries by freezing them before they go bad.
You don't need to add greens to your smoothie, but it's a nice way to get vegetables into your day. Add a handful of baby spinach or kale to make a green smoothie. Or try adding a little avocado, carrot, cauliflower or cucumber.
You'll want to choose a liquid that complements the flavors of your smoothie and also doesn't add unnecessary calories and sugar. Water works in a pinch, but you'll get more flavor and creaminess from milk or nondairy milk. Also, since your smoothie already has fruit in it, skip the juice. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar.
Most Americans get enough protein, but we don't always get it at breakfast (find out how much protein you should be eating every day). Protein helps keep you feeling full, so having some in your smoothie can give your breakfast staying power. Cow's milk and soy milk both add a few grams of protein (about 7 grams per cup).
You can also add yogurt, cottage cheese or nut butter to your smoothie to boost the protein. Protein powders are also an option, just choose wisely at the store. Many protein powders contain add-ins like sweeteners, oil, salt, thickeners and artificial colors. Look for one with a simple ingredient list, made with just one or two ingredients.
Add a little extra flavor and nutrition to your smoothie with flaxseeds, chia seeds, oats, spices (like cinnamon and ginger) or cocoa powder.
Pictured Recipe: Make-Ahead Smoothie Freezer Packs
Save yourself time in the morning and "make" your smoothie the night before. Chop any fresh fruits or vegetables, then measure all the ingredients for one smoothie and place them in a plastic freezer bag to create a DIY smoothie pack. Or measure and pack several bags at once for easy breakfasts all week long. Just add the contents of one smoothie pack to the blender in the morning, pour in some liquid and blend for a practically instant breakfast.
It's not ideal for the best smoothie texture, but sometimes you can't crank up the blender at 6 a.m. If you do need to make your smoothie in advance, store it in a jar in your fridge and shake it up the next morning before you sip. It may have separated a little and be a little thinner but these are sacrifices I'm willing to make to sleep in for 5 extra minutes on some mornings. If you're making your smoothie in advance use frozen fruit and a little less liquid to help it hold up and stay as frosting as possible.
Pictured Recipe: Fruit & Yogurt Smoothie
You don't need a fancy blender to make smoothies. Most blenders can puree frozen fruit easily and even make leafy greens like kale and spinach undetectable. High-powered blenders, such as the Ninja, can handle smoothies no problem. Premium blenders, such as the Vitamix, will blend up ultra-silky smoothies and nut butters and are a little quieter than a less-expensive blender. However, you're paying a price for that extra power, so if you don't use your blender every day it may not be worth the splurge. Both of these blenders were on sale when we checked, so be sure to look for a sale when you purchase.
Blenders to try:
Ninja Blender ($169): amazon.com
Vitamix Blender ($449): amazon.com
Mason jars do a great job of transporting your smoothie. If you need to drink on the go, Cuppow lids are the perfect topper for your jar (and help ensure you won't spill a berry smoothie down your shirt). Another great option is a BPA-free plastic cup with a straw built into the lid. If you have a long way to travel, an insulated bottle or mug might work best. We love Hydroflask containers, which can keep cold drinks cold for hours.
Cuppow lid ($10): amazon.com
Hydroflask tumbler ($30): amazon.com
Sip on your smoothie with a reusable stainless-steel or glass straw. Then just rinse and repeat. Paper straws come in lots of fun colors and patterns, but don't always hold up well in smoothies.
Stainless Straws ($8): amazon.com
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