Everywhere you look, it’s smoothies: green smoothies, blue smoothies, one smoothie, two smoothies.
All your friends are raving about smoothies, your grandma is Facebook spamming you with links to the newest smoothie and it seems like celebrities are subsisting exclusively on a smoothie diet.
Why? Because they’re great! A proper smoothie makes you feel like you’re downing some sort of magical healthy milkshake. You could even throw two straws in a soda fountain glass, grab your significant other and recreate iconic photos from America’s golden age, all while benefiting your health.
But let’s get down to brass tacks. What is a proper smoothie? And furthermore, how do we make a proper smoothie that also tastes like something we actually want to drink on a regular basis?
Well, let’s break this down into some to-dos and some not-to-dos.
Don’t: load up on fruit.
Sure, it does give it a nice, sweet flavor, but think about why that is. Not only are many fruits high in sugar, they are also high in carbs, which contributes to a spike in blood sugar—and then a subsequent crash.
If you’re following a recipe, and it calls for fruit, a good rule of thumb is to simply cut the amount in half.
Do: go berry wild.
Substitute your fruits with dark and/or high-fiber berries. They taste delicious and their high fiber content counteracts the absorption of sugar and prevents your blood sugar from spiking. Also, berries like blackberries, blueberries and strawberries are high in essential vitamins, antioxidants and micronutrients.
Don’t: upset the balance of the force.
You heard a good smoothie has to have a lot of protein, so you go crazy with nuts, or you go nuts with the almond milk. Or you know there’s got to be a lot of good fat in your smoothie, so you make it exclusively out of avocado (I think that might be called guacamole, but you get the picture…)
Do: Stick to this magical ratio:
Two parts fat, one part carbs and one part protein. Not sure what’s fat, carbs or protein? Here’s a nifty little website to help you out.
Don’t: Throw in a mélange of everything you think tastes good hoping that the combination of all of these lovely things will create an explosion of flavor in your mouth. It won’t. Your mouth will be confused and you will be disappointed.
Do: Find something you like and let it be the “main” flavor.
You like almond butter and you need some protein, right? Make your next smoothie an almond butter smoothie. Or maybe it feels like a strawberry day. Let those strawberries shine through. Just whatever you do, don’t make an almond butter, strawberry, kale, pineapple, and beet smoothie with equal amounts of everything and expect it to be good.
Don’t: Make a juice or a stew.
It’s a rookie mistake, and you’ll get better with practice. You put a bunch of effort into a smoothie and it comes out either way too watery or way too thick. You don’t want your smoothie to go down like a cool drink of water. Nor do you want to have to eat it with a spoon.
Do: Be conscious of the type and amount of liquid you use.
Try to avoid straight fruit juice for a couple of reasons. First, it will really change the flavor. Second, it sort of negates the purpose of having a smoothie because you’re just getting carbs and sugar from the fruit rather than the fiber. Almond milk is a really great option. It doesn’t drastically alter the flavor much, it’s good for you, it counts as a protein and it’s a bit thick so there’s not as big a risk of watering down your smoothie.
Other than that, it’s a matter of trial and error, just try to consider it as you go.
Don’t: be all pragmatic and spur-of-the-moment about your smoothies
It’s fine sometimes to just wake up and, amidst the rush of getting ready for work and the kids ready for school (or whatever it is you do in the morning) and, at that moment, decide what kind of smoothie you’ll be having. But that’s not a sustainable practice. You’ll wear yourself out and, before you know it, you’re just grabbing a quick fast food breakfast sandwich because it’s all you’ve got time for.
Do: Make a plan
Maybe you do a whole week ahead, or maybe just as little as the night before. But you will thank yourself if you wake up and you know what to do. And if you want to take it even a step further, prep your ingredients beforehand! Cut up your veggies, peel your fruits, set aside your portions. If you haven’t tried this, it’s a great feeling.
There’s a reason everyone is raving about smoothies. For a lot of people, they’ve been a game changer, leading to weight loss, more energy, sharper thinking and an overall sense of satisfaction in life. In any case, whether you’re just getting started or you’re an old veteran, I hope this little guide helps. Happy blending folks.