Healthy eating has been a topical issue for a while now. Whilst most foods are no longer recommended in our diets, this doesn’t automatically mean we can’t enjoy something that’s tasty, easy to prepare, and most importantly, very healthy. What could be more fitting than a smoothie?
We made a great compilation of smoothie recipes that all have 6 different ingredients or less. All of the required ingredients can be easily found at most retailers, even on the Best Buy flyer, where you can often find promotions on fresh fruit and vegetables.
To break down what constitutes a good smoothie we needed to go back to the ‘chopping’ board and we came up with a simple formula:
- A liquid base,
- Some fruit,
- A vegetable,
- Fats &/or Grains.
- Garnish/ Flavor Booster, and
- ‘Ingredient X’ – any extra ingredient according to preference to transform the drink into your kind of drink. This can be anything that can thicken the mix, add protein, extra-fats, or simply just add a ‘buzz’ to it.
Nutritional experts usually recommend only the first 3 ingredients as the critical ones to any healthy smoothie. But it’s easy to see how the 4th, 5th and 6th ingredients add another dimension to the taste and purpose of the smoothie at the end of the day.
1. Liquid Base
Some of the most common choices include milk, in its non-dairy milk or full dairy forms, coconut water, coffee or tea, and juice. Whole milk, soy, or pea protein milk, can increase the protein levels by as much as 10 grams per cup.
However, if that’s not part of the nutritional goals it’s best to stick to other fat-free options like coconut water or almond milk. And if milks are not your best choice, blending juice might actually provide better value as it adds a useful layer of sweetness.
2. Fruit Base
For smoothies that are best served chilled, frozen fruit is the best way to go as they immediately lower the temperature. This limits the need for ice, except as a diluting agent for more concentrated smoothie choices.
Frozen fruit also allows for better flavor, especially if the fruits were cut and stored just before they got overripe. Some great fruit bases include strawberries, blueberries, mangos, bananas, pineapples, cherries, and peaches.
Over the last few years, there’s been a movement embracing the addition of vegetables and other leafy greens into smoothies, thanks to the antioxidant levels they contain. Leafy veggies like kale, spinach, in addition to carrots and beetroots not only add color and flavor but also add antioxidants to the whole smoothie.
4. Grains and/or Fats
Extra filling for thickness can be found in plant-based fats avocados, nut butter, grains, and seeds like chia, hemp, or ground flax. Rolled oats and grains also add much-needed fiber to any healthy smoothie. They also boast heart-protecting omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats.
5. Garnish (flavor boosters)
Just like in any flavorful concoction, there are some elements that have the capacity to transform the flavor and sometimes the color of a whole drink.
Cocoa powder is by far the most popular, but cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and unsweetened matcha powder can also be used to liven-up the taste of any smoothie. Another fan favorite has to be honey because of its natural properties and small calorie footprint.
Protein – Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or peanuts and nut butter add protein benefits over and above the healthy fats and bursting flavor they contain. Moreover, many people also consider using protein powder options of which whey and pea protein are the more popular options.
Alcohol –Smoothies can also be fun without being totally unhealthy. Alcoholic beverages like rum, vodka, and brandy can be introduced to many smoothies in healthy doses to amplify some flavors. They’re also a much better alternative to some of the mainstream mocktails and cocktails that are prepacked and homemade.
Ice –The cold and frosty dimension added by the ice can be soothing. It is also essential to reduce the concentration of sweetness in a smoothie, as well as to chill the drink to a relaxing temperature.
As crucial as it is to know what to avoid, it’s equally important to have a few pro-tips that will help when you feel like crafting your own signature milkshake;
- One of the most important tools in a kitchen is the blender and as such, It is advisable to start with the liquid as this protects the blades in comparison with putting ice at the bottom, which might damage the blades immediately or slowly over time. Frozen fruit might be better for chilled smoothies as it eliminates the need for ice chilling and protects the blender’s blades.
- Avoid adding too many fruit varieties. It’s generally advisable to add less than 3 fruits in different fruit groups. For example, avoid mixing blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries because they are in the same fruit group. Instead, try a berry, a banana, and a peach, maybe.
To make sure your smoothie is enjoyable, it’s important to be aware of common traps to avoid;
- Smoothie with breakfast, or soon after. – If your smoothie contains some sort of protein powder, Greek yogurt, nut butter, and the like, it probably has more than enough calories to be the meal.
- Too much fruit. – As weird as it sounds, there are situations when too much of a good thing ends up being a bad thing. In this case, you may exceed the required calories and carbs per serving. As a rule of thumb; it’s best to avoid using more than 3 different fruits as this will also invertedly distort the flavor.
- Too much sweetener – Most fruits are naturally sweet so it’s wiser to avoid adding any processed sweeteners. But, if you’ve got a sweet-tooth you could use maple syrup, honey, agave, coconut sugar, and other sweeteners. The key is moderation.
- Too many “boosting ingredients” – Sometimes nut butters, chia seeds, and protein powders bring the magic of a smoothie and steer it towards your nutritional goals but, it is important to remember moderation. A tablespoon of either peanut or almond butter has about 100 calories whilst protein powders usually start at the 100-calorie mark. Chia, flax, or hemp seeds are safe too, but you can easily exceed 100-calories in two or three tablespoons.
Some of the quickest and easiest fruit smoothie recipes may seem basic but are guaranteed to provide a healthy snack on the go. At times simplicity is the ultimate sophistication as these classic flavors can be blended with some quick and easy-to-find elements to give them an extra kick. Here are a few favorites to consider;
1. Strawberry Smoothie – A cup of strawberries, milk, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla. Add a fistful of ice.
2. Banana Smoothie – Greek yogurt, banana, half an orange, and milk. Honey can also be a great sweetening option if required.
3. Blueberry Smoothie – Yogurt, blueberries, milk, sweetener, vanilla extract, and a pinch of nutmeg.
4. Peach Smoothie – Yogurt, peaches, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.
5. Grape Smoothie – Yogurt, grapes, banana, and milk.
6. Watermelon Smoothie – Watermelon with frozen strawberries and banana produce a tropical flair. Just add a healthy yogurt.
7. Perfect Berry Smoothie – Pick any of your favorite berries with yogurt, banana, milk, and honey to garnish.
There are many combos that don’t initially sound like a flavorful balance but in practice actually do. Here they are:
8. Hangover Reliever – Ginger, almond butter, pomegranate juice, banana, and ice will settle your tummy and give you a boost of energy, granting you a little bit of shut-eye.
9. Sleep Inducer – Sesame seeds, almond butter, cherries, banana, and milk, (preferably almond). To be taken 1 hour before bed as it’s known to help with insomnia.
10. Stomach Soother – Flaxseed, ginger, peaches, papaya, pear, ginger, yogurt, and ice can help an upset tummy, nausea, wind, and bad breath.
11. Skin Soother – Avocado, flaxseed, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, yogurt, and ice will help your skin relax, but sometimes it might not work overnight.
There are some tropical varieties that will make you feel like you’re on a beach enjoying the summer sun.
12. Grapefruit Smoothie – A combination of grapefruit, pineapple, and banana together with yogurt tastes like a combination of sorbet and ice cream.
13. Kiwi Smoothie – Kiwi, pineapple or banana, and spinach with yogurt.
14. Mango Pineapple Smoothie – Mango, pineapple, milk, banana, and flax seeds.
15. Dragon Fruit Smoothie– Dragonfruit mixed with banana, mango, strawberries, blueberries, lemon juice, and yogurt.
16. Pina Colada – A common favorite – add pineapple, coconut, and coconut milk, a little white rum, and ice in the mix!
There are some smoothies that just tickle your tastebuds like a decadent dessert. Here are a few of our favorites;
17. Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie – strawberries, banana, almond butter, and cocoa powder, blended into a delicious creamy puree.
18. Chocolate Banana Smoothie – Bananas, cocoa powder, and Greek yogurt make magic in the blender with just a little maple syrup for sweetener.
19. Cinnamon Apple Smoothie – Greek yogurt will make this combo taste like a bottled apple pie milkshake.
20. Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie – A healthy portion of strawberries, mixed with a cup of crumbled pound cake, milk, ice, and sugar to taste. Top it off with whipped cream and more strawberries for a heart-warming drink.
21. Chocolate Chip Cookie Smoothie – Vanilla ice cream, milk, crumbled chocolate chip cookies with mini chocolate chips. Top it off with a cookie.
Anytime Snack Smoothie
Some smoothies can be enjoyed as a quick and easy snack for all ages. Here are a few great additions:
22. Almond Orange Smoothie – Oranges, bananas, almond butter, and vanilla beans. Some swear that it tastes like an Orange Julius!
23. Peach Mango Smoothie – Peaches, mangos, and orange juice blend so well that there won’t be any need for a sweetener.
24. Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie – This smoothie can be enhanced by adding cocoa powder or chocolate spread to make it much more interesting.
Here are a few vegan options we have tried that stand out:
25. Espresso Soy Milk Shake – The boost of caffeine may help lower your risk of diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, whilst still making a delicious dessert.
26. Vegan Avo Smoothie – The banana and pineapple’s sweetness compliment the avocado perfectly, and the texture is deliciously light and creamy. It is by far one of the most attractive green smoothies we have seen.
27. Acai Berry Smoothie – A healthy mix of your favorite berries, almond or coconut milk, and a few tablespoons of freeze-dried acai powder.
28. Vegan Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie – It’s sweet and delicious, with just the right juicy flavor with no added sweetener. It’s a great snack and even works as a healthy dessert.
Drinks with a buzz
29. Brandied Berry Milkshake – Vanilla low-fat ice cream, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, low-fat milk, and brandy. The antioxidants found in the berries give this drink a great start but the splash of brandy adds a different layer of complexity and flavor. This is the only time mixing fruit from the same group makes sense!
30. Watermelon Papaya Rum Smoothie – Pineapple, watermelon, papaya, and coconut milk. Frozen fruit and frozen coconut milk shine here. To avoid watering it down, freeze the coconut milk. 2 ounces of white rum will take the drink over the line.
These 30 varieties of smoothies are only our personal selection and recommendation. There are many more combinations out there you can easily try out. Hopefully, this will inspire you to explore and find what works for you.