How to Make the Perfect Smoothie
If you can’t tell already, smoothies are my jam. I am borderline obsessed. I pretty much make one every morning for breakfast, except when I go big with an egg, bacon and waffle breakfast. In my humble smoothie loving opinion, smoothies have it all. They combine all you need for a balanced breakfast into one glass. You get your veggies, fruits, proteins, healthy fats and superfoods/adaptogens all together in a creamy morning treat. In this post, I am breaking down each category for you, including how to prepare, store and use certain fruits and veggies to get the most out of this breakfast powerhouse.
1 to 1 ½ cups
Alright, this is where the magic begins. I typically choose a non-dairy base for the morning, but I have including some options for full-fat dairy as well. For one serving I typically do 1 cup to 1 and ¼ cup of liquids. 1 ½ cup when working with all frozen fruits and vegetables and 1 cup when working with a mix of fresh and frozen. The amount of liquid will help determine the creaminess and thickness of your smoothie.
I find cashew milk to be the least disruptive in terms of taste but I also love any nut milks including almond, macadamia nut and coconut milk. Oat milk and hemp seed milk are coming more out on the market now but it’s hard to find a good brand free of sweeteners. Personally I find it easy to make nut and seed milks from scratch.
Cashew, hemp, sunflower and pumpkin seed milk only require soaking and blending with no straining. Walnut, hazelnut, almond and brazil nut milks are my favorite to make, strained through a nut bag or cheese cloth. The nut pulp can be used to make energy balls! Fresh, homemade nut milks last in your fridge for 3-4 days.
If you are partial to dairy in your smoothies I suggest a good full fat milk made from grass-fed cows or using full fat regular or greek yogurt.
The key to adding vegetables is to not use more than one or two. Due to the fiber content in vegetables and the addition of using fruits, combining too many vegetables in a smoothie may be hard to digest and causing you to run to the toilet. Oof. We don’t want that. Below I have listed my favorite veggie combinations along with how to prepare and store.
Zucchini – wash and slice into 1-inch coins. Zucchinis are easier to digest than more cruciferous vegetables and can be used in your smoothie raw or cooked. For raw, simple toss into a reusable container in your freezer. For cooked, you can blanch in boiling water or steam for 2-3 minutes. You cannot taste in smoothies and adds a nice thick texture.
Leafy Greens (Spinach, Romaine Dandelion or Kale) – can be added raw. I wouldn’t add more than a handful of each for easier digestion. For any leafy greens, store in your refrigerator wrapped in a paper towel to absorb excess moisture and keep fresher longer.
Cauliflower – wash and slice a head of cauliflower or buy pre-sliced in the frozen section. I suggest that you cook your cauliflower, you can blanch in boiling water or steam for 2-3 minutes. Let cool before freezing or lay flat to freeze so the florets don’t stick together. You cannot taste in smoothies and adds a nice fluffy texture. I wouldn’t use more than a handful.
Beets – if you are buying your beets raw, you can roast in your oven or cook in boiling water. When you are able to pierce with a fork, remove from oven or water and peel off the skin. This is easily done by rubbing a paper towel over the skin. Slice into chunks and let cool before freezing or lay flat to freeze so that the chunks don’t stick together. Store in a reusable container in your freezer. You can also find precooked beets in most grocery stores as well.
Squash or Sweet potatoes – I love using squash and sweet potatoes in smoothies. They thicken the smoothie and add a creamy texture and sweet taste. I have used both delicate and butternut squash. Both by roasted before hands and removing the skins. Yellow squash is easy to use too, and prepared just like zucchinis. For sweet potatoes, I roast in the oven at 375 degrees until tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Remove, let cool, remove the skin and slice into chunks to be frozen.
Carrots – Prepare the same way you would zucchinis as described above, but make sure you peel beforehand.
A few weeks back I posted about the fruits and veggies that are more important to buy organic than others. When buying fruits and veggies for your smoothies, I would follow the lists that I posted.
I have listed fruits from least to most sweet and like veggies, I believe that a combo of one or two is just enough. Check to make sure when buying frozen fruit that the only ingredient is the fruit! Believe it or not, a lot of brands add sugar and color.
All berries – blueberries, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries
Green apple – I love slicing up a green apple and adding to smoothies with the skin on for the most fiber content. For my favorite green apple smoothie, subscribe to my newsletter to get 5 of my favorite smoothie recipes.
Papaya and Pineapple – Digestion powerhouses, both of these fruits are wonderful to aide in digestion.
Peaches and Nectarines – best when eaten in season but can be found frozen
Mangoes and Bananas – these two tropical fruits will help to make your smoothies more sweet and creamy. My tip for freezing bananas is simply to cut them in half and store in a reusable container.
Pitaya or Acai – will lend a bright color and creaminess and can be found in packets in the frozen section.
¼ to ½ ripe avocado
1-2 tablespoons of nuts or seeds
Alright, now we are getting to the best part of smoothies, healthy fats! These are so important in the morning to wake your brain up (the brain is made up of 80% fat, so feed it fat!) and to help keep you full until lunch.
When it comes to fats, I would stick to just one or maybe two in your smoothies. Start with one and work your way up from there! Fats are the most calorie dense foods at 9 calories per gram so they help to fill you up faster and longer.
Avocado – This powerhouse fruit is rich in fiber and healthy fats. For one serving I recommend ¼ to ½ and avocado for a smoothie. This is also the best ingredient to add in place of a banana for creaminess.
Coconut oil or coconut butter - Love adding coconut oil or coconut butter for a healthy hit of fat.
Seeds – hemp, chia and flax seeds pack in not only healthy fats but omega-3’s. I always keep these in my fridge to last longer and use 1 to 2 tbsp. for one smoothie servings.
Nuts and nut butters – I love adding nut butters to my smoothies, they pack in protein and healthy fats. I love using creamy almond butter or cashew butter. I also love sunflower seed butter. Make sure to buy all of your nut butters with no added sugars or oils. The only ingredient in your nuts should just be the nuts!
You can use 2 tablespoons of nut butter for your smoothie protein (about 7 grams) or you can go the protein powder route to get more grams of protein in the morning! Good protein powders will provide you with essential amino acids to help keep you fuller longer so you don’t have to snack before lunch!
I am listing my favorite protein powders below including links to buy. These are in heavy rotation for me as well as recommended to my clients. I like these brands for their minimal ingredients that are free of any added crap.
Nuzest Protein – I like the original, unflavored
Use code BALANCEBYMOLLY for 15% off
Sun Warrior – I like the vanilla flavor that I linked to
Collagen Peptides – I like Further Food brand best (not vegan)
Collagen is great for hair, skin and nails and also contains gelatin which is very healing for your gut! Use code BALANCEBYMOLLY for 10% off
Serving size on package
Last but not least, superfoods! There are a ton out there on the market, including adaptogens which are great for stress, anxiety and sleep. Here are the ones that I use in smoothies but feel free to explore more for yourself! Click on each one for link to the product I use.
I use a Vitamix blender to make all of my smoothies. I get asked a lot which blender I use. I bought mine refurbished on Amazon which saved me tons of money and I swear it was brand new! Never pay full price ;)
Happy smoothie making!