Smoothies provide on-the-go convenience. Don’t have time for breakfast? Make a smoothie. Heading out, but don’t want to hit up the drive-through? Make a smoothie. However, smoothies are more than a convenience food, and they can be a tasty, balanced meal, even when time isn’t an issue.

The best thing about smoothies is that they are so versatile. Whatever your personal preference, dietary restrictions, and ingredients you’ve got in your fridge or cupboard, you can create a straw-sipping treat.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that smoothies require no skill whatsoever. There is a definite art to making the perfect smoothie. Keep in mind the following tips.

Don’t go overboard with the fruit. It might be tempting to stick to fruit only and skip the greens, but too much sweet can be overpowering to the palate; greens tend to balance it out.

Blend ingredients in the order of how smooth you’d like each one. Kale, for example, is not good chunky, so make sure you put it in first with the liquid, and blend until silky smooth. Fresh strawberries, on the other hand, are good slightly chunky, so save them until later. If you’re adding ice, put it in last, as you don’t want to overblend until it just melts into water.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s easy to get into a smoothie rut, so switch it up. Challenge yourself to purchase a new ingredient each time you visit your natural health grocer, and incorporate it into your daily smoothie. Another idea is to find inspiration from your favourite desserts by recreating them in a healthy smoothie. Banana cream pie, anyone?

Recipes

How to freeze bananas

Using frozen bananas rather than fresh will do two things: it will keep your smoothie nice and cold, which always tastes better, and it will give your smoothie a thicker consistency, more like a milkshake. To freeze bananas, peel them, cut them in half, and place them (not touching) flat on a cookie sheet. Place in freezer until completely frozen, and then transfer frozen banana halves to airtight container for easy access.

5 tips to make a better smoothie

Making a satisfying, yet energy-sustaining, smoothie isn’t rocket science. Just remember these five key components and you’ve got the magic formula.

Fruit and veg

Fruits and veggies both have their place in a well-rounded smoothie. For fruit, opt for what’s in season or, during the winter months, use frozen and canned fruit (avoid BPA-lined cans). Berries, tree fruits such as peaches and nectarines, tropical fruit such as mango and pineapple, and even local apples and pears are excellent in smoothies. For vegetables, go with local greens such as Swiss chard, spinach, and kale.

Liquid

Standard smoothie liquids include milk, juice, and water. Experiment with different types of milk such as nut, hemp, or coconut. Try different types of juices too, such as antioxidant-rich pomegranate and blueberry. Rather than plain water, try using coconut water instead, which adds flavour and electrolytes such as potassium. Experiment with different varieties of teas and coffees.

Thickener

These control the consistency of your smoothie. Enjoy a thicker, milkshake-like smoothie? Add more thickener such as ice, frozen or fresh bananas, yogourt or kefir, nut butters, coconut meat, or oats. To thin your smoothie, simply add more liquid.

Flavour

If you’re making a smoothie that’s light on fruit and other sweet ingredients, you may want to add a natural sweetener. Good choices include honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, dates, and stevia. Additional flavour boosters include spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg; extracts such as vanilla, peppermint, and almond; and fresh herbs such as mint, parsley, and cilantro.

Nutrition booster

Up the nutritional ante of your smoothie with boosters such as chia seeds, maca powder, matcha powder, goji berries, cocoa nibs, bee pollen, greens powder, camu camu, hempseeds, and protein powder. 

About the Author

Amy Wood is an editor at alive magazine. Her favourite smoothie is the Choco Chip Mint.