Smoothies are a great way to start your day, especially in summer. They are quick, easy, convenient and packed full of nutrition… if you know what you’re doing! There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to make a smoothie so read on as I explain how to get it right every time.
Beware the Take-Away Smoothie
Before I go any further I have to mention that generally ‘health” smoothies ordered as a take-away or in coffee shops are loaded with sugar and carbohydrates – not healthy at all! The base is usually fruit juice or frozen yogurt (which is full of sugar) to which more fruit and more honey or sugar is added. Alternatively the smoothie is made from a pre-made, freeze-dried smoothie mix which again is loaded with sugar as well as other nasties like preservatives, flavourants and colourants.
Please also watch out for the famous health claim: “100% fat-free!” This is actually not a good thing and normally stands for 100% “sugar-full”!! Remember that fat does not make us fat, excess sugar does. Rather avoid take-away or coffee shop smoothies and simply make your own at home.
The Perfect Smoothie
The perfect smoothie should emphasize healthy fats, quality protein and nutrition. There should only be a minimal amount of carbohydrates and absolutely no sugar.
So How Do You Make It?
Simple! Just follow these 7 easy steps (note all quantities are for a smoothie mix for 2 people):
- Start with a liquid base (1.5 cups liquid)
Good options are water, nut milk (almond or macadamia nut milk etc), coconut milk, coconut water or brewed tea (chamomile is my favourite). I prefer not to use dairy as a smoothie base because it may trigger a mucous response (not good if you’re about to sing or give a speech), cause digestive discomfort (in intolerant individuals) or inhibit anti-oxidant absorption. The only exception would be organic full-cream plain Greek yogurt which is full of beneficial probiotics, healthy fats and protein.
- Add some oil (1-2 Tablespoons)
And by oil I mean pure coconut oil. Coconut oil has so many health benefits it deserves its own article! It increases energy levels & metabolism, improves circulation, aids digestion, boosts immunity, improves cholesterol levels, reduces inflammation, promotes weight loss, improves brain function, moisturizes the skin and so much more! Adding it to your morning smoothie also gives it a deliciously creamy texture.
- Power with protein
1 – 2 heaped tablespoons should suffice. I encourage you only to use the best and highest quality protein powder you can find! It should be 100% pure with no added flavourants, colourants, sweeteners, preservatives or any other artificial ingredients. My favourite protein powder is by Sally-Ann Creed called “The Best Whey.” It has a neutral taste so will blend easily into any flavour smoothie you are making. It also gives a wonderful velvety, marshmallow-like texture to your smoothie which is simply heavenly! If whey protein doesn’t agree with you, get a raw vegan protein powder or vegetable-based protein like “Pure Green Protein” by Vibrant Health.
- Add 1 soft fruit
This will either be a banana or an avocado… or even ½ a banana plus ½ an avocado. Bananas work well in any smoothie but avocado!? Surprising I know, but avocado blends beautifully in most superfood or chocolate-flavoured smoothies. Avocados are also low in carbohydrates, rich in healthy fats and help you stay fuller for longer. So which do you choose? Well, both add thickness and boost nutrition, it really just depends on what flavour you are going for. Just note that banana is sweeter than avocado. If using avo you may want to add more sweetness* to your smoothie.
- Boost with a binder (1 – 2 tablespoons)
Recommended binders are almond butter, macadamia nut butter or any nut butter you like; raw nuts or seeds or chia seeds.
Here the quantities depend on the ingredient. If you want to add more fruit stick to a handful or so (berries, mango and pineapple are all delicious in smoothies). For superfoods, greens and/or other ingredients the following amounts are recommended:
– Cacao nibs/beans/powder (1-2 tablespoons)
– Maca powder (1-2 teaspoons)
– Ground organic cinnamon (1-2 teaspoons)
– Greens powder (1-2 teaspoons) – spirulina, wheatgrass, barley grass etc
– Whole spinach/kale leaves (1-2 handfuls)
– Lemon or lime juice (1 tablespoon)
– Vanilla extract (¼ – ½ teaspoon) or vanilla pod (seeds of one vanilla pod)
Once you’ve chosen your ingredients from steps 1 – 6, add these to your blender and blend until smooth. You can also add 6 or so ice-cubes to make it colder.
* Optional: Sweetness
If your smoothie still needs some sweetness the following are recommended:
- Raw honey/organic grade b maple syrup (1-2 teaspoons)
- Stevia: safe sugar alternative with zero calories (tip of a teaspoon – it is very sweet!)
- Xylitol: safe sugar alternative with a low glycaemic load. (2 teaspoons or more)
- Lucuma: a natural sweetener with a caramel custard flavour. (1/2 to 1 tablespoon)
- Mesquite: a natural sweetener with a sweet, slightly nutty flavour. (1/2 to 1 tablespoon)
Now get creative!
Putting together your own smoothie is the best part. Simply follow the steps and choose ingredients that you love. Remember though that these are just guidelines. Feel free to add more or less of a certain ingredient, or more than one ingredient from each category.
Still need some help?
To get you started in the right direction here is one of my favourite recipes:
Chocolate Heaven Smoothie
- Base: 400mls coconut milk
- Oil: 1 heaped Tblsp coconut oil
- Protein: 1 heaped Tblsp The Best Whey natural protein powder
- Soft Fruit: ½ frozen banana plus ½ avocado
- Binder: 1 heaped Tblsp almond nut butter
- Flavour: 1 ½ Tblsps cacao powder, 1 Tblsp maca powder, ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp vanilla extract and 2 tsps
- Add all ingredients into your blender and blend till smooth!
For more ideas for some delicious smoothies, visit our recipe section.