Smoothies are used for all kinds of reasons: as a way to eat more healthy foods, as support for an athletic endeavor, as an answer to “I literally have only five minutes for breakfast” and so much more. But, if you’re not in the routine of making your own blends, making a balanced smoothie may seem a little ambiguous. After all, we’re saturated with photos of smoothies in every color, featuring every flavor and full of all kinds of healthy (and sometimes not-so-healthy) add-ins. So, what makes a good smoothie so “good?”
The easiest way to create healthy and delicious equilibrium in your blender is to keep a simplified nutrient checklist. Here are the general ingredient guidelines to make sure you’re getting the most out of every blend:
Checklist Item 1: Fruits
Packed with vitamins and dietary fiber, alluring fruits make an ideal base for smoothies. While bananas are a tried-and-true favorite due to their sweet neutral flavor and creamy texture, almost every fruit under the sun can be a part of your smoothie lineup, including mangoes, berries, pears, pineapple and melons, among others. You can use fresh or frozen fruit, just aim to keep the overall quantity in check. One to two servings of fruit (like a banana plus a handful of blueberries, for example) is usually an ideal amount for most people.
Checklist Item 2: Vegetables
We all know we should eat more vegetables and smoothies are the ultimate “sneaky” way to up your daily quota without even tasting a difference! Not all vegetables work well in the context of your blend, but some, like cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers and leafy greens like spinach and kale can be added seamlessly. If “adding a salad” seems too inconvenient, you can also lean on vegetable powders – a concentrated and usually more mildly flavored version of fresh veggies. A few particularly versatile varieties include beet powder, Wheatgrass Powder and kale powder. What’s more, these powders are not nearly as perishable as fresh produce (lasting months in the pantry), while containing all the same nutrition.
Checklist Item 3: Protein
Protein is the satiating macro-nutrient you crave in a balanced meal and smoothies are no stranger to the benefits of its contribution. Adding protein to smoothies ensures you obtain the valuable amino acids your body needs, while keeping you fuller, longer. As you can imagine, many sources of protein you might enjoy on a plate won’t work in a smoothie, which is why most smoothies rely on protein powders (and occasionally nuts and seeds, too). You can choose multi-functional superfood varieties of protein powders like Navitas Organics Essential Superfood Blends, which cover several items on your checklist with every uber-healthy scoop.
Checklist Item 4: Fat
The one element most people forget while making a smoothie is fat. Adding a little bit of healthy, plant-based fat such as Chia Seeds, Cashews or avocado helps to balance both the flavor and texture of your smoothie, while also providing long-term satiation. You don’t need much – just a spoonful or two of your favorite fat-rich ingredients will do the trick.
Checklist Item 5: Functional Boost
Let’s face it: smoothies are the perfect opportunity for you to fine-tune your health via nutrition. Looking to boost your immune system? Aiming for glowing skin? Seeking faster recovery after a workout? Superfoods are at your service! If you’re unsure of how to use certain superfoods, smoothies are the perfect place to start. If you’re still trying to wrap your head around the benefits of individual superfood ingredients, try a superfood powder containing multiple superfoods like the Navitas Organics Daily Superfood Boosts. You don’t have to add every superfood under the sun to every blend you make, but adding one or even a few of your favorites is a carpe diem move every time.
Checklist Item 6: Hydration
If you’re struggling to meet the eight-glasses-of-water-a-day hydration demands of your body, let smoothies assist you! You’ll need to add some kind of liquid to help the blender mix all your ingredients together, so make it a healthy choice with a plant-based milk, coconut water, a small splash of juice or even just plain water.
Need some more ideas to help you get started? Click here for some of our favorite smoothie recipes.