How to Make the Perfect Smoothie

Stefanie Menjivar, Take Control Staff

It happens to all of us, life gets busy and gets in the way of our well-intentioned meal plans. Whether you’re running late for work and have no time for breakfast, or just need something to tide you over until dinner, a quick smoothie can surely come to the rescue! While there are countless smoothie recipes online, how do you know which ones are the best?

What is a smoothie anyway?

Typically, smoothies are a puree of fruit blended with ice and a liquid -usually milk, yogurt, water, or juice. To make sure the smoothie you’re drinking is actually healthy, and not choc-full of sugar, excess calories and ingredients we’re going to breakdown the best way to build a smoothie that is tasty, nourishing and satisfying!

The Smoothie Breakdown

A liquid base – is necessary for a fluid mixture you can drink on the go or suck up in a straw. Many smoothie recipes contain juice, which if not from the fruit you put in the blender, can be adding excess sugars and calories. Try skim or 1-percent milk instead. It’s a great source of protein (something juice does not have), in addition to being rich in vitamin D and calcium. Great nondairy options include soy, almond, cashew, coconut, or oat milk. Flavored water works as well, but will not have the added nutrients of milk. Also, add water slowly as it can make a thinner smoothie.

Lean protein - Getting protein at every meal will help you maintain lean muscle mass and lead to burning more calories throughout the day. Your best bets: Greek or regular nonfat yogurt, silken tofu, or protein powder.

Healthy fats – To help your body absorb vitamins and gain some energy, you’ll need to add a fat source. Use up to two tablespoons of a monosaturated fat like: avocado, seeds, or nuts (like almond or peanut butter)

High-fiber carbs – Fiber-filled carbs will help to keep you full and almost any fruit will do this for you in a smoothie. Raspberries and blueberries are low sugar, high in fiber fruits to try. Your options are endless though and range from bananas and strawberries to the exotic mango and pineapple. You can also add veggies to smoothies.  Spinach or cucumber work well and have very mild flavors.

Building the Ideal Smoothie

Depending on your blender, you will need to stack the hardest to blend ingredients closest to the blade. Use ice cubes during the blending process if you prefer a chilled smoothie. Some great blender options are Vitamix, Ninja, or the Nutri-Blender. Nailing the right ratio for smoothies can be tough, and also depends on the type of ingredients you’re using. Lauren Caris Cooks recommends the following:

Unfrozen fruit smoothie:

3 parts fruit

2 parts liquid

2-3 ice cubes

1-2 tbsp add-ins

Frozen fruit smoothie:

3 parts frozen fruit

3 parts liquid

1-2 tbsp add-ins

Biggest Smoothie Mistakes

There are endless healthy add-ins for smoothies like green powders, bee pollen, and chia seeds. But beware of these sneaky ingredients that might actually hinder your health goals.

Adding Fruit Juice – store-bought juices lack the fiber of fresh fruit juice. Most concerning is the amount of sugar added in these juices. For example, the average cup of orange juice contains a whopping 21 grams of sugar. By comparison a small orange fruit has only 9 grams. Choosing orange juice over an orange adds many empty calories to an otherwise healthy smoothie. If you use juice, we recommend adding only a small amount for a hint of flavor and supplement with water or milk.

Adding Sweeteners or Canned Fruit – Instead of adding sweeteners to your smoothie, consider getting the sweetness from the real fruit itself. Sweeteners and canned fruit full of syrup add a lot of excess sugar. If you find yourself needing a sweeter taste, consider adding honey, dates, maple syrup, or molasses.

Getting Heavy Handed – Measuring is key to building a smoothie. While avocado and peanut butter are delicious, too much of a good thing can be…too much. Tossing a medium avocado into your smoothie adds about 230 calories, while 2 tablespoons of peanut butter adds almost 200 additional calories. Keep this in mind when building your smoothie. Too much avocado can cause gastrointestinal in some people

You’re ready to make the smoothie of your dreams!  Give it a shot and let us know how it goes. If you need a little flavor inspiration, check out Take Control’s Favorite Smoothie Recipes!