Smoothies have become awfully versatile over the years. In addition to being a succulent dessert and a post workout slam, they are also quite the photogenic model on social media.
But a smoothie’s talents don’t end there! The benefits contained in that blended bundle of goodness are so tremendous, that it is encouraged to replace 1 meal a day with a smoothie. That’s right, swap the eggs and bacon with a delicious blended delight and watch the magic happen.
So what is the secret behind smoothie greatness? How can you improve your smoothie-making skills? What ingredients should you use to maximize your smoothie experience?
Whether you’re new to smoothies and simply looking for the motivation to try, or you’re a smoothie master searching for some new ideas to blend with your own, you’ve come to the right place to get all your questions answered and more!
Why Drink Smoothies?
Maybe you’re comfortable with your eating habits. You like your granola, your sandwiches, your pastas and you have your occasional salad. Why switch it up now?
Smoothies can improve your health, your lifestyle and overall well being. And that’s just the beginning. I could go on all day listing the advantages! However, as you probably don’t have all day to weed through all there is to know, I will limit myself to the top 5.
#1. Get Your Daily Requirement For Fruits And Vegetables In One Glass
Depending on your age and gender, you should be getting about 2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. In today’s world full of fats, fried foods, salts, grains, meat, etc., achieving this goal can be harder than it seems.
But it becomes a lot easier when you can mix and match a couple servings in the blender and let them slide smoothly down your throat. Fresh produce you don’t even have to chew through and you can check the fruits and veggies right off your daily list!
#2. Fast And Easy
We’ve all experienced kitchen disasters. Pork chops left long enough in the oven to bake to a blackened mess. Chicken soup so salty no amount of extra broth could save it. Carrot cake that’s a little more like carrot pudding than it was supposed to be.
But when the whole point of a recipe is to be a mess of ingredients blended into a delicious meal, you really can’t go wrong! You chop, you throw the ingredients in, you press go and viola! You’re good to go.
#3. Promotes Weight Loss
Most meals typically hit high on the calorie intake scale. This is why replacing one meal a day with a fruit-and-veggie-filled smoothie is a great way to get all the needed vitamins, minerals and fats and keep things low on the calorie scale!
Also, since your blender has already done half the work your body normally does during the digestive process, your body will thank you with a healthy digestive system and you can direct that extra energy towards other things!
#4. Improved Immune System
As much fun as it is to stay in all day watching Netflix from your pile of tissues, no one likes a cold.
You can keep sicknesses at bay by strengthening your immune system with blended fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C. And the money you saved from not having to pay for cough drops and doctor visits can be used for your smoothie ingredients!
#5. Energy Supply
Food is fuel for the body. And the best kind of fuel is healthy carbohydrates, which you can get from the fruits and veggies in your daily smoothie!
Healthy carbohydrates can help regulate your energy as you need it throughout the day, which can help get rid of those mid-afternoon crashes.
Green Vs. Fruit Vs. Protein Smoothies
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits, lets get into the technicalities of a smoothie. No two smoothies are the same and each one speaks to specific needs. Some common smoothie types are green smoothies, fruit smoothies and protein smoothies.
Green smoothies are a combination of leafy greens and fruits. They are also generally dairy free with juice or water as the liquid base.
A green smoothie is a great choice of daily blended delight, because dark, leafy greens are about the most healthy things you can find on earth. Although you can get your greens in salad form, you’re a lot more likely to consume those much needed portions when they can be sipped instead of crunched.
Fruit smoothies have a liquid base of water, juice or milk, mixed with – you guessed it – fruit! This smoothie can be a meal replacement or an afternoon energy boost, but most often it’s a tasty offering to satisfy that sweet tooth.
If you’re looking for an smoothie for your daily routine, this may not be your best choice. Because fruits contain so much sugar, fruit smoothies can give you more than your wanted calories and also spike your blood sugar. But if you’re looking for a healthy dessert option, then a fruit smoothie is definitely the way to go!
A protein smoothie is a blend of fruits and veggies high in protein. It’s also common to add a protein powder to give it an extra boost. This is a great option for a meal replacement, because protein is a lot of what your body looks for in a meal.
A great time for a protein smoothie is right after a work out. Your body can use the help rebuilding muscles, which they need protein to do. Protein smoothies are also a great option right before bed and right after you wake up. Your body could put the protein to good use by building up for or recovering from those 8 hours without food!
How To Make The Perfect Meal Replacement Smoothie
Making a meal replacement shake is doable, but does require a little planning, just like most things in life. If you plan on drinking a shake instead of eating a regular meal, it is important to include the appropriate nutrients, including the proper amounts your body needs. Let’s talk about each nutrient individually…
Near the end I will give you a template for making your own shakes. I am all about EASE, because like you, I’m busy. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. 🙂
Step One: Liquid
What do you want to use as liquid for your meal replacement shake? Good, old fashioned clean water is always an option! If the ingredients you add are flavorful and creamy enough, then sometimes water will do the job just fine. If you’re looking for something a little more dense than water, then we would suggest the following:
Coconut milk. You can get this from a carton like almond milk or from a can. Go for unsweetened, with as few fillers and additional ingredients as possible. This is usually easier to find in canned coconut milk.
Hemp milk. Seems to be trending these days and is a good, nutrient-rich option.
Flax Milk. Contains a similar nutrient ratio as almond milk and tastes just as good. Opt for unsweetened if possible.
Coconut water: Another great option that is rich with electrolytes and great for hydration.
How much liquid should you include in your smoothie? Generally 1-2 cups is plenty, but you can always add more if needed for consistency.
Step Two: Protein
Proteins are long chains of amino acids that make up 20% of your muscles, tissues and cells. There are 20 amino acids, nine of which are considered “essential” because the body cannot create them; they must be absorbed from the food you eat or supplemented.
There are many vegetables and seeds and even some fruits that contain all 9 essential amino acids. We consider the following three plant-proteins to be the most superior, nutrient-dense choices:
Pumpkin Seed Protein. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based protein with 5 grams in just one ounce. They are also high in tryptophan, an amino acid that enhances serotonin, boosting your mood and mental health.
Pea Protein. Pea protein is quickly becoming one of the most popular plant proteins among gym-goers and health-conscious folks. It contains all of the essential amino acids and several non-essentials as well. Pea protein has also been found to be beneficial for several bodily organs and is one of the best hypoallergenic proteins as it is both gluten and dairy free.
Quinoa Protein.Quinoa is a protein and nutrient-dense seed (not a grain at all!) that makes a great substitute for traditional grains. It is an excellent source of plant protein and is becoming more and more common in protein powders.
Organifi Complete Protein Powder. Organifi Complete Protein is our very own VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE, ORGANIC protein powder that doubles as a multivitamin! It’s creamy and delicious. We combined the best plant-based proteins with whole foods multivitamins and unique digestive enzymes. You won’t feel bloated with this stuff. It tastes delicious in smoothie and shake recipes and can even be made into pancakes and ice cream!
If you are replacing a meal with a smoothie, aim to include 15-20 grams of protein per serving.
Step Three: Vitamins And Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are important ingredients in any shake that will be replacing a meal. If you add a good amount of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens to your shake, then you should be in good shape. Consider choosing from the following:
Banana/frozen banana chunks
Spinach (good for those who don’t like bitter flavor)
Spring mix greens
These foods tend to work the best in a shake when compared to other fruits and veggies, but feel free to experiment as you like to find new flavors and textures.
Step Four: Healthy Fat
Fats are extremely important to a healthy diet! Healthy fats are a major fuel source for your body and are also the main way you store energy. You need fat to help you absorb other nutrients, like fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as antioxidants.
Fats are also used for cell structure and support healthy nerve, brain and heart function. Despite the 90’s craze (which was based on a myth) that taught you to avoid anything with fat, do NOT run away from fat! Instead, focus on filling your diet (and your meal replacement shake!) with healthy, energizing and remedying fat sources.
Is there a type of fat to avoid? Yes – TRANS FAT. This is an artificial fat found in fast foods, processed snacks/food and hydrogenated oils.
Here are several sources of good, healthy fats that you can and should include in your shakes/smoothies:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut butter
1 tbsp coconut cream
½ full fat coconut milk
½ cup raw or sprouted nuts and seeds (these will also boost the vitamin and mineral content of your shakes), soak nuts and seeds overnight for maximum nutrient potential and easier digestion
1-2 tbsp nut butters (preferably not peanut butter)
1-2 tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 eggs (you can use egg whites or whole raw eggs if you’re really brave… always choose organic and cage-free)
Not only are these beneficial to your health, but they will also make your shakes and smoothies more flavorful and creamy!
Step Five: Carbohydrates/Fillers
Most of these extra carbohydrates can be added to your shakes raw, but if you want to aid digestion and make the ingredients easier to blend, then prepare them as follows:
Berries: Frozen or fresh
Bananas: The more ripe they are, the more sweet they will taste in your shake
Sweet Potatoes: Steam for 10 minutes or bake as usual and let cool in the fridge
White Beans: Use rinsed BPA-free canned beans or take dry beans and cook as directed
Gluten-Free Oats: Soak in the liquid you will use in your shake overnight and add to the blender together
Meal Replacement Smoothie Template
The following will make 1 serving of an appropriate meal replacement DIY shake/smoothie:
1-2 cup liquid
1 cup fruit and vegetables
1 tbsp sweetener (raw honey, maple syrup)
½ cup raw or sprouted nuts and seeds OR 1-2 tbsp nut butter
1 serving healthy fat (see list above)
1-2 servings pea protein or quinoa (as label directs)
1-2 cups leafy greens
Extra carbohydrate/filler (OPTIONAL)
You can experiment with different combinations to see what tastes the best to you. I like to find several different versions that I like so I can rotate them throughout the week.
Smoothie Recipes By Ailment
And just to make things EVEN EASIER, I’ve compiled some smoothie ingredients and recipes that are even more specific to your needs. For each category, I’ve listed the best ingredients for the smoothie type and included a recipe putting those ingredients to work.
Smoothie For Weight Loss
Ingredients to use for weight loss:
Green Machine Smoothie
¼ cup pineapple
2 celery stalks
2 cups spinach
1 cup water
Smoothie For High Blood Pressure
Ingredients to use for high blood pressure:
Blueberry Heart-Healthy Smoothie
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 ripe banana
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup spinach
Smoothie For Energy
Ingredients to use for energy:
1 frozen banana
1 cup mulberries
1 cup kale
1 tbsp dried lavender
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 tsp lucuma powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Smoothie For Hangover
Ingredients to use for a hangover:
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1/2 small banana
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt
1/2 cup coconut water
Smoothie For Diabetes
Ingredients to use for diabetes:
3/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup strawberries
1 tsp flax seed
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Smoothie For The Flu
Ingredients to use for the flu:
2 medium oranges, peeled
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated ginger
1-3 tsp pure maple syrup
3-5 ice cubes
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Smoothie For When You’re Sick
Ingredients to use for when you’re sick:
1 cup warm ginger tea
1 small orange, peeled
1/2 lemon, peeled
1/2 lime, peeled
1 tsp coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small piece of fresh ginger
A dash salt
2 tbsp honey
Smoothie For Pregnancy
Ingredients to use for when you’re pregnant:
Mom And Baby Smoothie
1/2 cup peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt
1/4 cup mango juice
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Smoothie For When You Have Diarrhea
Ingredients to use for diarrhea:
Flax Seeds (ground)
White grape juice
Stomach Soothing Smoothie
1 cup oat milk
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup raspberry kefir
1 frozen banana
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp plain yogurt
Smoothies For Exercise
Smoothies are great for before and after a work out. They’re easy to make, soft on the digestive system, offer a great way to get the protein you need to build your muscle back up and the carbs you need to keep your energy soaring and antioxidants to help with any inflammation or cell damage. They’re also great for weight loss, because smoothies can fill you up without giving you too many calories.
More Smoothies For Weight Loss
Almond Banana Joy
1large ripe bananapeeled and frozen
3/4cupunsweetened almond milk
1tbspunsweetened almond butter
1tbsp chia seeds
Blue Banana Yum
1eggbeaten, scrambled and cooled
1ripe bananapeeled and frozen
1/2cupfrozen red grapes
3large ice cubes
1cupunsweetened almond milk
1/8tspto 1/4 ground cinnamon
Peach Almond Bliss
1cup almond milk
1(5.3 oz) greek yogurt – mango, peach, strawberry or coconut
Best Smoothies For Before A Workout
1 1/2 cups skim milk
2 cups kale stems and leaves
1 kiwi fruit peeled
1 tbsp smooth unsalted peanut butter
1 tsp agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
3/4 cup skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup quick-cook oats
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Dash ground cinnamon
1 small banana preferably frozen
Best Smoothies For After A Workout
1 ½ cups papaya, chilled and cut into chunks
1 cup ice
½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp agave nectar or honey
Leaves from one sprig of mint
Pineapple Papaya Heaven
1 cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp white chia seeds
1 cup fresh papaya cubes
1/2 cup peeled cucumber
1/2 small Serrano pepper, stemmed
1 1/2 tsp lime juice
1 1/2 tsp pistachio or avocado oil
1 tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
1/8 ts sea salt
Smoothie Bowl Recipes
A smoothie bowl is basically what it sounds like. A smoothie served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon due to the thicker consistency. It is also commonly served with toppings such as seeds, nuts, oats, or fruit slices. Smoothie bowls are a bonus, because rather than quickly gulping them down, you can take more time to enjoy them and the thickness of it can help you to feel more full afterward.
Acai Berry Smoothie Bowl
1 packet of frozen organic acai berry pulp
2 heaping handfuls of spinach
1 frozen banana
½ cup coconut milk
2 tbsp of chia seeds
Dash of cinnamon
Ice as needed to thicken
Beet And Cranberry Smoothie Bowl
1 small beet – peeled and roughly chopped
1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen cranberries
3-4 Medjool dates
2 tsp camu camu powder
1-1 1/2 cups almond milk
Green Smoothie Bowl
1 cup kale
1 cup romaine lettuce
1 handful ice (more as needed)
1-2 stalks of celery, chopped
1-2 frozen bananas
½ cup coconut water
¼ cup cucumber, chopped
1 tbsp of cilantro
1 tbspof parsley
Juice of ½ lemon
1 brazil nut
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Are Smoothies Good In The Fridge?
A. Smoothies are always best fresh. However, if you are wanting to store it and you do it correctly, it can be stored up to 24 hours. The best way to keep a smoothie at its best for this amount of time is to store it in an airtight container, like a mason jar. Filling the container to the very top and minimizing the amount of air inside will help keep the nutrients from oxidizing.
Q. How Much Smoothie Should I Drink?
A. Generally, adults should drink 4 cups of smoothie a day, or 32 ounces. However, this can also depend on whether you’re having the smoothie as a snack, a dessert, or a meal replacement. Sweet and sugary smoothies should be kept to a minimum (just to keep your sweet tooth away from other less healthy treats!). Meal replacement smoothies should have 400-500 calories to keep you full and energized.
Q. How Many Meals Can I Replace With A Smoothie?
A. Although smoothies are amazing meal replacements, it is also important to provide your body with solid meals. Unless you’re planning on doing a smoothie cleanse, replacing one meal a day with a smoothie should be just the right amount!
A. Popular breakfasts of cold cereal, or hash browns and eggs are high in sugar and cholesterol. Swapping these out for a well balanced smoothie is just what you need to start you day off correctly
Q. How Long Should I Blend My Smoothies?
A. No two blenders are the same, so unfortunately there isn’t a universal blending time for the perfect smoothie texture. Some blenders have “smoothie,” “shake” or “puree” options, all of these are acceptable. If your blender doesn’t have any buttons or settings, 1-3 minutes is a pretty safe bet. It also depends on how you personally like your smoothie. If you don’t like to chew the occasional chunk, you may want to blend it longer.
Q. Do Smoothies Have Any Side Effects?
A. Some may experience side effects when drinking smoothies, such as cravings, sugar spikes, or muscle loss. However, most of these side effects are direct results from not making balanced smoothies. As long as you are using the correct ingredients and making smoothies that are fitting for your needs, most side effects can be avoided.
Smoothies. Aren’t they just incredible? They’re your remedy, energy boost, work out buddy, meal replacement and all in less than 10 minutes of tossing and blending! So what are you waiting for? Pull out your ingredients, dust off your blender and get sipping!
Emilyn Gil is a 22 year old English Major at UVU. She started writing at age 6, and since then has won several awards including the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key and was featured in the Kolob Canyon Review in Cedar City. Aside from the written word, her other passions include performing in the occasional musical theater production, and playing piano, guitar, and ukulele. Some of her favorite pastimes are baking, napping, and spending time with family. She likes monkeys, homemade rolls, and the color yellow. She has traveled to Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico, and Canada, and currently resides in Orem, Utah with her husband Jorge. You can find more of her work online at emilyaddn.blogspot.com or on Instagram at @emilyncan.
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