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    Ask The Chef: How Can I Make My Smoothies Thicker?

    By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef | January 16, 2017

    How can I make my smoothies thicker?

    Perhaps you’ve seen them: photos of those impossibly thick and luscious-looking smoothies on Instagram and the like, oozing over the sides of their cup with a kind of unabashed creamy glory. Perhaps you’ve had them: the smoothie you get at a store or restaurant that’s so ice cream-like in texture, so dense in viscosity, it’s barely able to scoot its way up the straw. And if all this talk leaves you with a bit of smoothie envy, you’re not alone. Most people will admit that their daily homemade smoothie can be a little lackluster at times, especially lacking in the department of textural allure. Luckily, smoothies are one of the easiest recipes around to “fix.” So the next time you blend a disappointingly watery concoction, here are some of the best ingredients you can add to boost a smoothie’s thickness, and make your own blend the one to covet:


    Bananas – There’s a reason why bananas are in so many smoothie recipes – aside from helping to sweeten smoothies, when blended, they create a perfectly creamy base. Simply adding a banana will instantly make your smoothie thicker, but you can also use frozen bananas for a smoothie that’s even more thick and frosty.


    Mangos – Like bananas, mangos are another “creamy” fruit that creates a thick, almost “fluffy” texture. If you’re blending a fruity blend, mangos (fresh or frozen) are a go-to. Start by blending in about ½ cup of chopped fruit, and increase if needed.


    Avocado – Superb for low-sugar smoothies, a couple scoops of avocado will go a long way to enhance the viscosity of a smoothie and leave it with an almost velvety quality. A little goes a long way with avocado – an ideal addition to green smoothies!


    Yogurt – While not quite as effective as the fruits above, a little bit of yogurt (about ¼ - ½ cup) can help to improve the textural balance of a smoothie. Take care to use yogurt that does not have added sugar, and seek non-dairy brands to avoid inflammatory ingredients.


    Chia – Chia is a master thickener, often used in all kinds of recipes for its ability to gel up when soaked in water. Adding a spoonful or two of chia to a smoothie will thicken it substantially in about 10-15 minutes, but if you’re looking for immediate results, simply add in chia gel, or pre-soaked chia. You can make the gel in a large batch ahead of time, and have it on hand for smoothies all week.


    Sweet Potatoes – Cooked sweet potatoes, yams, and winter squashes like pumpkin can instantly enhance the makeup of a smoothie while keeping the sugar and calorie content low. Be aware these options are a little more grainy than the other ingredients on this list, so keep their quantities fairly low (less than ½ cup of puree), and add other creamy elements like nut butters to balance and smooth out the blend.


    Frozen Fruit and Vegetables – The act of freezing produce changes the way the fruit or vegetable performs when blended rather dramatically. To quickly thicken the consistency of your next blend, try adding in ½ cup -1 cup of frozen berries or frozen tropical fruit. Or, for blends that have strong flavors (such as chocolate or vanilla) consider adding frozen vegetables like cauliflower or beets – you’ll be surprised at how well they transform into a dessert-like texture.


    Ice – Lastly, never underestimate the power of ice. Adding ½ cup or more of ice can turn a watery smoothie into a frosty blend in no time – just be sure to add a little bit of extra sweetness to your smoothie as the ice will water down flavor.