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    Ask the Chef: What Are the Best Smoothie Ingredients?

    By Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef | July 18, 2016

    I'm looking for simplicity: Can you give me a list of the very top, most-used, most beneficial smoothie ingredients I should have around?

    There's a lot of great smoothie ingredients out there. Perhaps that is exactly what makes smoothies so immensely popular: they are immensely diverse, making it easy to keep your blends constantly fresh and exciting. This same benefit can also be overwhelming at times - I have personally known individuals who make a 20-ingredient smoothie everyday. Hey, if that's your style, I say go for it!

    But for many of us, simpler is better. I've found that keeping a few key ingredients on hand ensures you can always create a highly nutritious and supremely delicious smoothie. You don't have to even use all of these ingredients in every smoothie, but you'll be amazed at how many variations you can create off of a streamlined core list like this one.

    Top 10 Smoothie Ingredients:

    Bananas - A great smoothie needs to have a certain level of sweetness and creaminess, and bananas make an absolutely ideal ingredient to serve this function. If you don't like bananas, you can also use mangos or avocados.

    Frozen Berries - Frozen berries are an excellent ingredient to keep in the freezer. Rich in antioxidants, loaded with vitamins, and adding additional layers of flavor, sweetness, and texture, you can use your favorite variety, or mix it up!

    Hemp Seeds - The “creamy factor†is super important to a great smoothie, and that's exactly what hemp seeds do. Adding a little bit of those healthy Omega-3 fats from nutritious hemp seeds goes a long way to improve mouthfeel and flavor balance. You can also use other types of nuts or seeds - a second favorite choice would be raw cashews and/or almonds.

    Frozen Greens - Green smoothies are arguably among the best types of smoothies, since they are such an effortless way to enjoy the healthy vegetables that many of us struggle to get enough of throughout the day. Frozen greens like spinach or kale make this practice even easier, as the flavor of the vegetables greatly diminishes in frozen form, making them easier than ever to add to smoothies of all varieties. Can you use fresh greens instead? Of course! But the no-spoilage advantage of frozen makes your blending practice all that more simple.

    Maca Powder - Few foods on the planet are as naturally invigorating as maca powder, making it one of the top-choice superfoods on many wellness professional's lists! Smoothies are a perfect application for this incredible ingredient - you'll find a big bag will last you a very long time.

    Protein Powder - To help round out the nutrition in a smoothie, a high quality plant-based protein powder is a great addition. Protein helps balance the carbohydrates and fats of other ingredients, ensuring long-term energy. You can use a blend or a straight hemp protein.

    Goji Berries - Mastering just the right level of sweetness can turn a good smoothie into a great smoothie, and dried goji berries can help you achieve this in the healthiest of ways. Offering a wealth of micronutrients including anti-aging antioxidants and immune boosting vitamin C, goji berries taste sweet yet are surprisingly low in sugar -- a spoonful or two is a great way to boost other natural flavors.

    Almond Milk - Of course you could always use water, but adding a non-dairy milk like almond milk is a low calorie way to make your smoothie a thousand times more creamy and delicious. For best results, use an unsweetened almond milk, and avoid the additional (hidden) sugars!

    Coconut Water - It may seem excessive to include two beverages on what is otherwise a very narrowed-down list, but a little bit of coconut water can do wonders to make your smoothie more ice-cream-like and irresistible, thanks to high levels of electrolytes, which taste slightly salty. Even better, you can get coconut water powder instead of the fresh liquid to save space in your refrigerator and enjoy a more lucrative cost-per-serving (simply add the coconut water powder to the almond milk … delicious!).

    Ice - Smoothies are best cold, and adding a handful of ice can improve texture, and help extend the flavor. Remember, ice is just water, so this is a great way to up your total hydration yield as well.

    Do you have another smoothie ingredient must-have? Tell us in the comments below!