These delicious sips can fill you up, slim you down, or complement lighter meals.
Whether you’re looking for a meal replacement option for weight-loss advantages, a tasty way to boost your nutrition, a natural way to ease a troubled tummy, or a flavorful addition to a lighter meal, there are plenty of options for mixing up your smoothies to be healthy as well as delicious.
“The idea is to pack in the nutrient-dense foods, not empty calories,” says dietitian Bonnie Nasar, RDN, author of The 30-Minute Fibromyalgia Cookbook.
You don't need to be all-or-nothing with smoothies either, she adds. You can do just one small glass with a salad or half sandwich, for example, and save the rest of the drink for a snack.
Another advantage is that you can experiment with a range of healthy ingredients, including coffee, dried fruits, protein powder, ground flax seed, nut butters, and leafy greens. If certain nutrient-rich choices like cauliflower, kale, or spinach aren't to your liking, good news: You can throw them in the blender with flavors you love - hello, chocolate - and you get the vitamins and minerals in an unexpectedly sweet way.
Why Make Your Own Smoothies?
With so many commercially made drink options, including smoothies and juices, it might feel easier to simply buy one already made. While that can be helpful for occasional busy days, it’s much better to spend some time on your own creations, according to dietitian Erin Kenney, RD, owner of Nutrition Rewired and author of Rewire Your Gut.
"Often, meal replacements contain sugars, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, artificial flavors, and chemical preservatives," she says. "Making a smoothie at home can give you complex carbohydrates, anti-inflammatory fats, a good amount of protein, and fiber. That makes it a great, wholesome option."
Ready to start blending? Here are four drinks Nasar developed for her clients, along with some variations you can use as a guide to make them your own. Prep couldn't be easier: Just throw all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Each recipe serves two.
Strawberry Almond Protein Smoothie
The frozen fruits here thicken up your smoothie, making it seem more like a milkshake, and the flaxseed provides healthy fat that keeps you fuller longer.
1 ½ cups frozen strawberries
1 banana (frozen if possible)
¼ cup vanilla protein powder
1 ½ tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1 ¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
Nut-free: Use sunflower seed butter instead of almond butter, and coconut milk instead of almond milk.
Different milks: Try cashew milk, oat milk, or coconut milk.
Consistency: If smoothie is too thick, thin with more almond milk or water. If smoothie is too thin, add some ice cubes and blend to thicken.
More fiber: Add in chopped leafy greens like spinach or kale.
Strawberry Date Smoothie
Here's another way to use frozen fruit, and soaking your dates will help to bring out their flavor. Also, the oats give it more texture - try this one for breakfast!
2 cups frozen strawberries
½ cup pitted dates, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
¼ cup oats (quick or rolled)
1 ½ tbsp hemp seeds
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
Sweeter: If you want a sweeter drink, put in a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
More protein: Add more hemp seeds, a scoop of protein powder, or a spoonful of nut butter.
Creamy Apple Pie Smoothie
Looking for a dessert option that's not loaded with sweeteners? This one has all the flavor of a generous slice of apple pie, without the sugar that usually goes along with it.
1 apple (medium, peeled and chopped)
½ banana, frozen
4 ice cubes
2 tbsp vanilla protein powder
2 tbsp oats
1 tbsp almond butter
¾ tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
More spices: Feel free to use apple pie spice instead of just cinnamon, or you can add a dash of powdered ginger, powdered cloves, and allspice.
Different apples: For a more distinct apple flavor, use a tart variety like Granny Smith or McIntosh.
Chocolate Cauliflower Smoothie
If you want the benefits of a vegetable like cauliflower, but aren’t a fan of the flavor, this chocolate shake is the way to go.
2 cups frozen cauliflower florets
2 bananas, frozen
2 tbsp almond butter
¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
½ cup chocolate protein powder
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
Make it a mocha: Replace half of the almond milk with chilled coffee.
Get sweeter: Add pitted medjool dates.
Create Your Own Smoothie
Much like Nasar's drinks, you can whip up your own option anytime, often with what you already have on hand in the fridge, freezer, or pantry. Here are some choices of other nutrient-rich options to put in:
Frozen blueberries, cherries, or blackberries
Collagen powder instead of protein powder
Different milks: almond, coconut, oat, soy, cashew, hemp, rice, or good old traditional cow’s milk
Nuts and seeds: walnuts, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, hemp, peanut butter
Spices: anything goes, but popular ones are cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger
In general, aim to have a liquid base like one of the milks, fruit and vegetable picks, flavor boosters like spices or cocoa powder, and some type of fat like nuts or even olive oil to help you stay satiated until your next meal.
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