While smoothies can certainly be a healthy and nutritious snack — even a meal, in some instances — not all smoothies are created equal. Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE smoothie advocate!!
But, in order to benefit your body (and mind!), they need to be filled with good-for-you nutrients and a balanced proportion of macronutrients. I'm not saying every smoothie needs to be filled with superfood powders and kale, but what’s in your blend matters! From the sweeteners and milk you use to the fruit to veg ratio, there’s a lot to consider.
The good news is that I'm sharing seven super helpful tips to help make sure that all of the healthy smoothies you’re whipping up are nutrient-packed. And, of course, tasty as ever!
7 Ways to Take Your Healthy Smoothies to The Next Level
#1 Go-Dairy Free
Try going dairy-free in all your healthy smoothies by swapping out dairy milk for a plant-based pick.
Some of my favorites include:
Plant-based alternatives are a great alternative to heavy dairy milk! They’re full of minerals, anti-inflammatory compounds and make a great creamy alternative. While some do fine with dairy, it’s a common allergen that can be inflammatory for many.
Making your own plant-based milk is simple, if you want to go above and beyond! It takes minutes to make and requires a handful of whole food ingredients.
Try this simple DIY cashew milk — no straining required!
1 cup raw cashews
4 cups water
½ – 1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional flavor add-ins:
1 Medjool date, pitted (or 1 tbsp sweetener of choice)
Pinch of flaky sea salt
Step #1: Cover raw cashew nuts with water and soak for 4 hours minimum or overnight.
Step #2: Drain the cashew nuts and discard any liquid. Rinse well.
Step #3: Add all of the above ingredients, including any flavor add-ins, to a high-speed blender. Once the lid is secure, blend on medium-high until your mixture is smooth and creamy. Taste test and adjust sweetness or flavorings as needed.
Step #4: Pour mixture into a large pitcher or sealable glass jar and store in the fridge.
Step #5: Drink immediately or store in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Note: No straining is necessary with this non-dairy nut milk. But if you’d like a thinner consistency, you may choose to strain your cashew milk.
#2 Use Natural Sweeteners
If you’re purchasing your smoothies pre-made at the store, there’s a good chance they include some sort of sweetener. We definitely don’t want to be sipping on something that’s really more like a milkshake than a nutrient-dense shake. Even if you’re ordering at a juice shop, it’s always a good idea to read the ingredients label!
That said, making your own smoothie is an easy way to enjoy a healthy blend — guaranteed. You’ll know exactly what’s going into the mix and can make any healthy swaps as necessary!
Try blending up your own healthy smoothies with natural sweeteners like:
Pure maple syrup
Pitted Medjool dates
Bananas (or really any fruit but bananas add a really nice naturally sweet flavor, and add creaminess too — win, win!)
You can even add superfoods or spices like cinnamon, cacao powder, and pure vanilla bean for a low-calorie and virtually sugar-free sweetener option that packs tons of flavor and nutrients!
#3 Be Particular With Your Protein Powder
Just like you want to be particular with your sweetener choice, the same rule applies to the protein powder you choose to use. Why? Some protein powders come with a hefty dose of sugar, and some may even contain fillers, gums, and artificial ingredients.
Ideally, stick to something with minimal and super clean ingredients. The fewer ingredients, the better!
#4 Stick to Homemade
Back to what I said about homemade smoothies — it’s one of the best clean-eating hacks! You can control which ingredients you add while also loading your smoothie with nutrient-dense ingredients. This means saying no to processed (or excess) sugars, skipping the sweetened blending base, and controlling the portion size of all your mix-ins — i.e., adding 1 banana instead of 3.
So, try making them homemade as often as possible to not only optimize what you put in them but to also keep some cash in your pocket (store-bought smoothies are pricey!)
Here is a yummy (and simple!) Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie blend to help get you started:
2 tbsp peanut butter
¼ cup water
1½ cups unsweetened almond milk
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 bananas, sliced
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup baby spinach
Step #1: Add everything to the blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste test, adjusting any ingredients as desired.
And if you’re pressed for time, you can even meal-prep your smoothie blend by whipping up some freezer-friendly meal-prep smoothie packs. How simple, right!?
#5 Add a Healthy Fat
In addition to some added protein, tossing in some healthy fat is a great way to help make your healthy smoothies a little more filling. Plus, it provides you with sustained energy and helps curb sugar cravings!
Here are some great healthy fat add-ins:
Nut butter, such as almond or cashew
Seeds, such as chia, hemp, or flax
Coconut butter or oil
#6 Add Some Greens to Your Blend
Add some greens to your smoothies! It’s an easy way to sneak some antioxidant-rich foods into your diet that are packed with vitamins and minerals. And trust us, you won’t taste them!
Spinach and kale as easy starters if you’re looking to add a nutrient-dense punch. Just like fruit, you can pre-freeze them, too! It will make your smoothie even thicker and cut out some of the bitter taste.
#7 Be Mindful of Your Fruit Ratio
Although fruit is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, you still want to consider how much you’re adding to your blender. Though made with natural sugar, fruit still contains sugar. So, instead of adding several bananas to one serving or jam-packing your entire blend with fruit, try adding more veggies, healthy fats, and protein to balance your blend! Fruit can definitely be part of the mix, just be mindful of how much you’re adding
Bonus Tip: Give Your Smoothie a Superfood Boost!
Give your smoothie a superfood boost by adding in a spoonful of highly nutritious superfood powders or whole foods.
Here are some highly nutritious options:
Reishi mushroom powder
Optimize Your Daily Smoothie
When we think about smoothies, we often view them as delicious and healthy snacks or post-workout fuel, but not all smoothies are created equal. Try optimizing your smoothies by using these seven tips. These tips may just help you take your smoothie game to the next level.