Smoothies are popular for a quick breakfast or snack. Some smoothie recipes, however, are loaded with added sugar and fat. Ingredients such as sweetened fruit juice, honey, agave, seeds, and frozen yogurt are high in sugar and together add up to a lot of unnecessary calories. The secret to making a healthy smoothie is to know what to include and what to exclude.
As a breakfast meal replacement and/or an afternoon snack, the healthiest smoothies include both protein and fiber. To beef up your smoothie with a dose of easy-to-digest protein is as easy as including yogurt in your recipe! To keep calories down, buy a low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is not only delicious, but it has three times the amount of protein compared to regular yogurts. Choose high-fiber fruits such as blackberries, raspberries, and pears, and/or vegetables like baby spinach, kale, and collards for a nutritionally balanced smoothie. Together, fiber and protein are the perfect combination for a filling and satiating smoothie.
While it is important to create a smoothie with the right balance of nutrition, every smoothie benefits from some natural sweetness. Be aware that sugar in the raw, honey, and agave are still sugar. One tablespoon of honey contains 60 calories and 16 grams of sugar. Choosing naturally sweet fruits eliminates the need to add any form of extra sugar. Pineapple, peaches, and mangoes are great choices. Another great sweetener option is cinnamon. It not only lends a sweet flavor to your smoothie, but studies show that its antimicrobial properties aid digestion.
A great starter fiber-protein-sweet fruit combination is a half cup of yogurt, a handful of baby spinach, a handful of blackberries, a handful of pineapple, and half a cup of water or unsweetened almond milk. Play around with the measurements for the right flavor combination. The most perfect smoothie is one that tastes good and keeps you satiated until your next snack or meal.
- Freeze your fruit. Ice cubes water down the flavor of your smoothie. To avoid ice cubes and create a full-of-flavor smoothie, cut up and freeze fresh fruit. The frozen consistency of the fruit adds the same texture as ice without the extra water.
- Add more smooth to your smoothie. A quarter of an avocado is perfect for whipping up a super creamy and delicious smoothie that also packs in a load of nutrients, including potassium, B-complex vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Avocados contain heart-healthy fats, which help lower LDL cholesterol and raise healthy HDL cholesterol. Swap the blackberries for the avocado in my starter recipe above and you’ll have another go-to smoothie!
- Try almond milk for a dairy substitute. This saturated fat–free, low-calorie dairy substitute adds sweetness to your smoothie while also being a good source of calcium. If plain almond milk doesn’t entice you, try vanilla-flavored almond milk. Just swap the yogurt for 1 cup almond milk and add in 2 tablespoons of almond butter for added protein, and you’re good to go!