Successful Smoothies 101–How to Create Fantastic Blended Drinks

You know that country song, “It Just Comes Natural?”

Oh, you don’t?

Okay, for the non-country music fans (you know I grew up in Texas, don’t judge!), there is a George Straight song where he crows about the various things that “just come natural” to him. Aside from the glaringly obvious grammar faux pas in this song, I understand where he is coming from in some regard. I just wish he’d buy an adverb from time to time…

You see, there are things that just come naturally to me: Words, utilitarian painting, and, making killer smoothies. I am not a fast runner. I am not a gifted artist. I amterrible at fractions. But, I can make a smoothie out of just about anything you have in your kitchen at this very moment. (I am also good with pancakes, y’all.)


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So, when a commenter asked a while back for some more smoothie recipes because she is just getting into smoothies, it gave me pause. I had this crazy vision of being a roaming “smoothie fixer,” whereby I come to your house and help you solve all your smoothie woes. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Back in reality land, while I’d love to, I can’t go to everyone’s kitchen and walk through making a smoothie (unless Food Network deems it a worthy show idea – hmmmm…), but, I can provide a smoothie formula that I know will provide great results. I think a formula is a great way to go because there are a gazillion different ways you could make a smoothie. You likely know what you like, and maybe just need a little direction on how to put together the flavors you want in a smoothie that will be palatable.

So, here it is, your guaranteed to succeed smoothie formula that covers a significant amount of your nutritional bases. I like to make sure I cover all the macronutrients when making smoothies – protein, fat, and carbs – and, I cram extra micronutrient goodies in there too, when I can. The formula goes like this, but I go into more detail below:

1 cup liquid+2 handfuls greens (optional)+1 cup frozen fruit + 1 scoop protein powder+1 tablespoon healthy fat+optional sweetener

Here is the order I add ingredients and a little more method behind the madness.

Liquid – 1 cup is my standard amount. I generally use dairy alternatives like rice milk, coconut milk, almond milk, or even coconut water. You may want to use dairy milk, or even juice (but I really don’t recommend juice unless you made it yourself – so much sugar!).

One cup of liquid is a good guidepost, but as you begin to blend, you may need to add a little more. I have never needed less!

Optional greens – If you really want to maximize your smoothie, throw in some greens or greens powder like Amazing Grass Amazing Greens. You won’t notice them (aside from the color) and they really up the nutrition value with basically no calorie burden. 2 handfuls of spinach, kale, collards, chard, or any green of your choice will do.

If you are adding greens, I recommend adding them after the liquid, and blending to combine before adding other ingredients. This is simply a space-saving technique, especially if you are using a single-serve cup, as greens blend small but take up lots of room before they are blended.

Base – If you’re just starting out, frozen fruit is the easiest, most reliable base, but it’s not the only option – read on to find out other options.MP900314258[1]

For a standard smoothie, 3/4-1 cup of any soft fruit (that is now frozen) will work: Berries, mango, pineapple, peaches, a small frozen banana, you get the idea. You can even  mix and match them – 1/2 cup of strawberries with 1/2 a frozen banana, for instance, is a winning combo!

Things that would not be as good: Crunchy or fibrous fruits like apples, grapes, or oranges. You will probably not get them as smooth as you’d like and they won’t create the creamy base most people are going for.

If you get more adventurous, try frozen winter squash or sweet potato (cubed). They can be incredibly good and creamy. I have even made a good smoothie using white beans as the base!

If you don’t have frozen fruit, never fear! I prefer frozen fruit because it blends so smoothly, but if you don’t have any, ripe fresh fruit will work just fine. You’ll just want to add a handful of ice to make your smoothie cold.

Protein – 1 scoop of your favorite powder (look for one with less than 5g sugar per serving), or, 1/2 cup unflavored Greek yogurt.

MP900387894[1]Healthy Fats – If you didn’t use a liquid with fat in it, add 1 tablespoon of nut butter or coconut oil, 1/2 an avocado, or 1-2 tablespoons of seeds like chia, sunflower, or ground flax. Even if you did use a liquid with fat in it, adding one of these items really can bump up the nutrition value of your smoothie. We’re not going for fat for fat’s sake here – it needs to be from the healthy, monounsaturated family, okay?

Optional sweetener – If you need sweet to get through a smoothie and a single fruit is not enough, try to do it as naturally as possible and start small with just one teaspoon of something like honey, a sprinkle of Stevia, or, additional fresh fruit like a whole kiwi or small ripe pear. Steer clear of artificial sweeteners like Splenda (which metabolizes as chlorine in your body), or fake “healthy” sugars.

There you have it: Add to your blender, pulse to start combining, and blend until smooth. If you have a hard time blending, you may need more liquid. When adding liquid, do so in small quantities. You can go from not enough to way too much in no time!

Was this helpful? Do you have a different formula? Let us know!

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