Smoothies are great! They make for a refreshing, nutrient-dense, delicious meal that can be taken along with you on busy mornings. They are incredibly versatile, allowing you to build them as you see fit, and are an amazing way to get an extra serving of fruits and vegetables into your daily eating. But believe it or not, even smoothies can be unhealthy. Many smoothies that we buy at restaurants or chains, or even ones that we make at home, have the potential to be very high in energy and sugar when too many fruits, honey, and extras are added.
Building a healthy smoothie
If you’re making a smoothie that is going to act as your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you want to try and make sure that it’s a good substitute for a well-balanced meal.
- Include 1 serving of protein of your choice. This is really important to make you feel full after enjoying the smoothie, and for controlling your blood sugar levels nicely. Use a good-quality whey/pea/rice protein powder, plain yoghurt, or milk in your smoothie to help you stay satisfied for longer and maintain better blood glucose control.
- Add 1/2 cup frozen/fresh fruit of choice.Try not to keep to 1-2 servings of fruit per smoothie to manage the total energy and sugar content of your smoothie. Banana, berries, mango, and pineapple are so delicious in smoothies! For lower sugar options try and stick to berries.
- If you can, add a handful of healthy greens like baby spinach or kale for an extra nutrient boost.
- Add 1 Tbsp healthy fat, such as almond butter, raw nuts, seeds, or coconut oil to boost the energy content and lower the overall GI of your smoothie.
- Up the fibre content of your smoothie by adding in 1 Tbsp chia seeds, flax seeds, or psyllium husk.
- Mix things up with spices & flavours such as cinnamon, mint, ginger, vanilla extract, or cacao.
- For extra sustenance, add a little bit of high-quality, low GI carbohydrate for an extra boost of energy and to keep you full for longer. For example, add 2 Tbsp rolled oats for extra sustenance.
Winning smoothie tips
Here are some handy tips that will make life really easy in the mornings when you want to make the perfect smoothie at home:
- Frozen fruit is your best friend. If you have any fruit that’s about to go off or is just a bit too ripe to enjoy on its own, chop it up into smallish chunks and freeze it in freezer-safe bags or containers. Frozen fruit is also often available all year round, at more affordable prices, and can often be more nutritious in terms of vitamin content if they’ve been frozen quickly and correctly. Frozen fruit does a great job of making your smoothies really nice and cold, which is of great advantage if you make one as a take-away breakfast (no cooler bag needed!).
- Believe it or not, frozen veggies are also great smoothie ingredients! If you have too many veggies in your fridge at the end of the week and they’re going to go off sometime soon, wash, chop, and store them in freezer-safe bags or containers. Adding frozen veggies like spinach, kale, celery, and carrots to your smoothies will instantly add more fibre and goodness. Cook or steam beetroot, carrots, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes, and blend them before freezing them in ice trays for use in smoothies.
- Use the whole fruit and vegetable to make your smoothie. Use the skin and pulp of the fruit that you’re using to make your smoothie to instantly maximize your fibre intake. The fibre found in fruit peels plays an important role in slowing down the rate at which fruit sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, thus contributing to more steady glucose levels, also keeping you fuller for longer.
- Ice trays are the best! As already mentioned, you can blend cooked veggies like beetroot, sweet potato, and carrots and freeze them in ice trays for use in smoothies. You can also use ice trays to freeze leftover coconut milk, orange juice, nut milk, coffee, or tea. Make sure to use different trays for different liquids, or better yet pop out the cubes when they are frozen and place into freezer-safe bags that are labelled properly.
- Make your own smoothie packs! Portion and pack some of your favorite smoothie ingredients in their own freezer-safe bag or container for a quick and easy way to make breakfast. All you will need to do is add the frozen ingredients to a blender along with a liquid, some protein, and whatever else your smoothie needs, and voila! A quick and easy brekkie will be ready in seconds.
- Get yourself a good-quality, high-speed blender. As tempting as it may be to buy a budget blender, you’re not doing yourself any favours in the long run. Frozen fruit and ice blocks can wear down the blades and turning mechanism of poorly-made blenders very quickly, and before you know it you’re going to need to buy a new one. Save up a bit and buy a proper blender. I really enjoy my Nutribullet, but there are many other really good-quality blenders out there too. Do your research and read online reviews before purchasing.
Some more of my favourite healthy smoothies
Do yourself a favour and check out these recipes (after making my Tropical Breakfast Smoothie of course 😉 ):
- My very own Cacao & Avo Smoothie Bowl
- JSHealth Power Protein Smoothie
- Raw Cacao & Mint Smoothie Bowl
- Tahini & Vanilla Smoothie
- Coffee Chia Smoothie
- Smoothies for Busy Moms
- Cacao & Oat Thickshake
- Heidi’s Green Smoothie
- Good Morning Citrus Smoothie
- Frozen Banana & Peanut Butter Smoothie
- Sweet Protein Boost Smoothie
- Warming Winter Smoothie
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/3-1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup whole rolled oats
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- A handful of small ice blocks
- 1/2 cup water (as needed)
- Add all of the ingredients to a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Pour into a glass, bowl, or take-away jar and enjoy with some of your favorite toppings.
- - Desiccated coconut
- - Chia seeds
- - Homemade granola
- - Fresh mango