There are so many misconceptions about smoothies. Some people think that smoothies are undoubtedly unhealthy and loaded with sugar. Others think that just because it’s a labeled as a “smoothie” when it should really be called a “milkshake” that it’s healthy. The truth of the matter is that smoothies can be whatever you want them to be, especially when you blend them in your own home.
Blending your own smoothie gives you the ultimate control over how much nutrition — and how much sugar — goes into your blend. Below is the simplest formula for putting together a healthy, nutritionally loaded smoothie with very little sugar. I recommend this for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.
Step 1. Get a good blender. I am partial to the Nutribullet because it’s reasonably priced, very powerful and super easy to clean. I use my Nutribullet at least once daily and I replace it about once every two years usually because the plastic parts break, but the motor keeps on turning.
Step 2. Select a liquid base. I usually go with unsweetened almond milk, and I prefer the Whole Foods 365 brand because it does not contain carrageenan. This brand of unsweetened almond milk has a great texture, smooth flavor and 0g of sugar. Other options are hemp milk, rice milk, regular old cow’s milk, or just plain water. If you’re avoiding sugar, don’t adding fruit juice. You’ll need about 1 – 1-½ cups liquid.
Step 3. Add ½ of a frozen banana. I keep a bag of frozen bananas in the freezer. When the bananas on the counter get too ripe, they get peeled, split in half and tossed in a freezer-proof container for smoothies. Bananas are cheap, they taste great, add a burst of flavor, and mask more bitter flavors. Plus, they contain only about 7g of sugar in ½ banana.
Step 4. Add some other fruits. This is a great place to change up your smoothie daily and experiment with different flavors. You can find frozen organic fruit in the freezer section of your grocery store. I typically use a mixed berry blend as berries tend to be low in sugar and high in antioxidants. Add about ¼ cup of frozen fruit.
Step 5. Give it texture with benefits. To beef up your smoothie and give it a little creamy texture, you have a couple easy options. I prefer unflavored high probiotic yogurt, which supports digestion. You can also add avocado, which will thicken up your smoothie almost to a pudding form.
Step 6. Boost the nutrition. You have several options here depending on what you are trying to achieve. If you want to support digestion, add fiber from chia seeds or flax seeds. If you want to help curb your appetite, try an unflavored protein powder (we recommend an organic vegan protein). If you want to boost your intake of omega fatty acids, then purchase a powdered or liquid supplement – just be sure it contains Vegan Omega-3 DHA. I personally add all of the above, every morning.
Step 7. Herbs, spices and other flavors. This is another opportunity to experiment with simple flavor modifications and get a little extra nutritional bonus. I personally love adding just a pinch of cayenne to my fruit smoothies, it delivers heat and a little bite. Cayenne has numerous benefits, including helping to stimulate circulation working as a little early morning jump start. You might also try cinnamon, another heat-generating spice that packs a distinct flavor. Herbs can also add some depth to your smoothie, try fresh mint or basil. You can also go for chocolate by adding raw powdered cacao.
Step 8. Top it off with Dark Leafy Greens. Can you believe that you can get an entire serving of fresh organic leafy green vegetables for breakfast? Just slip a handful of fresh spinach, kale or arugula into your smoothie and you won’t even taste it. One expert tip here – store your greens in the freezer to keep them fresher, longer.
Step 9. Blend and enjoy!
You’ll soon be able to find more specific smoothie recipes on our blog. And, we’d love to hear your favorite recipes, please share!