How To Make a Healthy Smoothie – Beginner’s Ultimate Cheat Sheet
Have you ever wondered what’s the quickest meal you can prepare that’s healthy, weight loss friendly, and of course... delicious?
Maybe you’ve already heard that a smoothie might be the perfect solution, then tried making one using that recipe book you got last summer...
Many have tried and unfortunately came up with a sludge due to lack of proper guidance.
Well, worry no further as I will be giving you behind the scene details on how to make a delicious smoothie!
I like to think of myself as a smoothie enthusiast. I experiment a lot with mixes; my kitchen basically feels like a fruit & vegetable lab half of the time.
I’m truly ecstatic to share this yummy experience with you, so here’s the complete how-to guide:
What is a smoothie?
Since this is a beginner’s guide, or a sort of “Smoothies For Dummies”, we’d better start with a good solid definition of what is a smoothie and what it is NOT:
According to the definition in Wikipedia, which is a good one:
A smoothie (occasionally spelled smoothee or smoothy) is a thick beverage made from blended raw fruit or vegetables with other ingredients such as water, ice, dairy products or sweeteners.
A smoothie, however, is not a juice or a milkshake.
The difference between a fruit or vegetable juice and a smoothie is clear-cut, and we’ve explained it in this article.
Milkshake and frappe are a whole different breed, containing ice cream which turns a potentially healthy drink into a, well… not-so-healthy drink.
In my smoothies I never add ice cream, but instead I get the perfect smooth texture and sweetness by using other ingredients such as banana, avocado, yogurt, agave syrup, etc.
Here’s one of the best smoothie beginner how-to videos I found on YouTube:
What makes a smoothie healthy?
You can make a healthy smoothie as well as a completely unhealthy smoothie, depending on what ingredients you put inside.
But here’s an interesting and super important point:
There’s no connection between how healthy or not healthy a smoothie is, and how tasty and pleasurable it is!
In this guide, you will learn to choose the right ingredients so your smoothies will be both delicious and healthy.
These healthy ingredients would generally be vegetables and superfoods. Even if you’re not a big fan of vegetables (like me!) you’ll discover that they work great in smoothies.
Smoothies containing vegetables are often referred to as “Green Smoothies” which is a nice name, but often they would not turn out green at all. For example, check out our strong purple-colored blackberry energizing smoothie.
What about fruits then?
Many people would usually think of smoothies as fruit beverages. However making a fruit-only smoothie is not recommended as far as healthy eating is concerned.
With a smoothie that consists of mostly fruits, too much sugar is involved, even if it’s fructose (fruit sugar) which considered somewhat friendlier.
Indeed, fruits usually add great taste and texture to the smoothie, and you should definitely add some. But in a minute I’ll show you the right quantities so they don’t introduce excess sugar.
What you need to follow this tutorial
A good working blender
The role of a blender is to turn solid food into liquid, which is exactly what we need in this case.
You don’t necessarily need an expensive blender to produce bump-free smoothies; just make sure it’s a decent blender not a cheap low-end one.
However, if you already have a blender that’s not working smoothly, replace it with something better and you’ll immediately see the difference: silky smooth texture of the beverage, and usually much easier to handle and clean.
Want to know which blenders are perfect for smoothies and which ones suck? We've actually published a complete guide on this topic here.
You will need to gather the necessary fruits, vegetables, spices, superfoods and of course your preferred liquid base for your smoothie.
For recommended ingredients and liquid options, see the step-by-step instructions below.
One thing to note though, is to not go overboard with a large selection of ingredients and additions.
Keep it simple, especially if you’re just starting with smoothies. Select just 2-3 ingredients you like, plus liquid. That would be more than enough to create a delicious beverage.
Gone are the days where our mothers gave us smoothies in Styrofoams and awful tasting plastics… You might want to get yourself a good-looking glass or jar. This would help create for you the full smoothie experience!
The Ultimate Smoothie Cheat Sheet
One of the strongest appeals of a smoothie is that it is easy and quick to make, yet the taste can be so rewarding.
Follow these step by step instructions and let us know how it went, in the comments at the bottom of this page.
Here's the deal:
1. Pick a Smoothie Theme
Smoothies are more than just liquid treats in glass cups; you can literally tailor them to your daily needs.
Unless your aim is just to kick back and relax with a glass of smoothie in hand, then you should think of a purpose for the smoothie you try to make.
Here are some popular options:
- Weight loss: You can incorporate all the necessary nutrients you need to lose weight into your smoothie cup.
Vegetables are natural candidates, but depending on your personal preferences, these could also be fruits such as berries and avocados. Matcha tea is also great. Just avoid using canned fruits, fruit juice and sugar.
- Meal Replacement: Since you’re looking to replace a meal with a smoothie, you need that glass cup to be filled with all the nutrients your body needs – think healthy fats and proteins! Use more avocados, cashews and coconut oil.
- Post-Workout: Protein should be your friend when making a bodybuilding smoothie. Try avocados and spinach. Ditch the sweeteners and use less sweet fruits.
A major smoothie type to consider is:
- Green Smoothies: These smoothies have a lot of leafy contents in them; this is why we refer to them as “green”. They can be dairy-free and use more vegetables than fruits – perfect for losing weight, bodybuilding and meal replacements!
Here’s a fun video I found on YouTube - watch a green smoothie being prepared live 🙂
2. Add the Liquid Base
Liquids are essential for not only proper and smooth functioning of your blender but also in providing nutrients to the body.
When it comes to adding liquids in smoothies, there are so many varieties to select from… here are a few you should try and why:
- Water: Water is an essence of life and an ideal candidate for our smoothie liquid. It is usually preferred since it is great for rehydrating the body, washing off nasty toxins, and of course very accessible. This is the perfect option for those on a tight budget.
Filtered or bottled spring water is recommended.
- Dairy / nondairy milk: Almond and coconut milk will add vitamin E, fiber and protein to your smoothies, rice milk is great for lactose intolerant folks, and these are great milk option when it comes to liquid bases.
If you use coconut milk, go for the 100% ones - unlike the canned version, they do not include any preservatives, stabilizers, thickeners and gums. In other words, they are both tastier and healthier.
I sometimes use unsweetened soy milk as a base. It is nutritious, but some consider it to have an undesired after taste, so I’ll leave it up to your personal taste preferences.
- Fruit Juices: adds sweetness and tastes, but remember it adds to the sugar count of the smoothie, so go easy on any additional fruits.
- Green tea
- Coconut water
How much liquid to add?
Great question! If you like your smoothies thicker, like me, then don’t add too much. Usually ¾ cup would suffice. Some ingredients, especially fruits like pineapple and watermelon, will add extra liquid anyway. Same goes for when you add ice.
If you like smoothies that are more runny or watery, just do an initial mix with the blender, then add some more liquid if needed.
3. Add a Base/Thickener (Optional)
Want your smoothies to be thick and creamy? Then you need to thicken it!
When it comes to thickening smoothies, most people always settle for bananas, and although bananas are great thickeners, they aren’t the only option available for you.
What if you are allergic to bananas? Or just not a huge fan? I personally know a friend that is afraid of bananas, so I’m dedicating to him this list of great options:
- Yogurt: Greek yogurt makes the best smoothie thickener, although you can go for any yogurt available.
- Kefir: made from either milk or coconut milk, this adds a creamy texture and sourness. If you’re into probiotics, you’ll probably like this option.
- Tofu (silken): The silken variety is a great smoothie thickener and also high in protein.
- Oatmeal: Highly nutritious, but just make sure you grind this properly before using it in your smoothie.
- Chia seeds: These are excellent binding agents and thickeners. 1 teaspoon of this should do the trick.
- Avocado: this is a better alternative to bananas for thickening.
4. Toss the fruits and vegetables into the Blender
Choose the mix of fruits and veggies that you like, but try to bring in more vegetables than fruits, to keep the sugar contents in check.
Some fruits don’t mix well with others, so know what complements. Here are some fruit combination options to consider:
- Cranberry and apple
- Watermelon and raspberry
- Pineapple and pear
- Coconut, pineapple and peach
- Pomegranate and blueberry
- Berry combo (mixing various berries together)
- Strawberries, mango and papaya
- Mango, kiwi and grape
As far as vegetables go the selection is endless, and you can get great ideas on maximizing the health benefits of your smoothie here.
A little side note: you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to the list above. Now is the perfect time for you to get creative with your smoothie!
5. Sweeten it! (Optional)
Are you a sweet tooth? You are not alone, I consider myself a sweet tooth too; there is no shame in sweetening your smoothies, but do it wisely.
Hint: sugar is generally a bad idea. Luckily, there are more than enough options to select from:
- Stevia: The extract powder is the common form of stevia, but you can also go for the liquid extract or dried leaves. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar and contains no calories. If you have diabetes or looking to lose weight, stevia should be your #1 go-to option.
Some complain about an aftertaste of stevia, however as part of a smoothie it blends so well that I’ve never detected any aftertaste.
- Dates: I love dates and I am sure you will love em’ too! Using dates as sweeteners in your smoothie will give you a dose of calcium, iron magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and selenium. You get your sugar AND daily nutrient… win-win!
- Coconut: why not use coconut water as your liquid base?
(Refer to step 2) that way your smoothie will be sweetened from the onset.
- Cinnamon: these aren’t just meant for soups and stews… a pinch of cinnamon in your smoothie will go a long way in sweetening it and regulating your blood sugar.
This is how Stevia really looks like - innocent green leaves, but super sweet!
- Goji berries
- Blackstrap molasses
- Maple syrup
6. Super-charge the smoothie
Superfoods are highly recommended in smoothies. They add a real boost to the nutritional value and sometimes to the taste of the smoothie.
Here are some nutritional powerhouses and condiments to try:
- Aloe Vera: Not everyone might appreciate the bitter taste of an aloe vera, however it is great for stabilizing the sugar level and rehydrating the body. Honestly, it wouldn’t tamper with your smoothie’s taste. If used in moderate quantities, the other ingredients would probably mask it completely.
- Cacao: I love chocolate, don’t you? So let’s add it in our smoothies, it’s great for the taste. You need to use raw cacao powder because of the flavonoids contained in it; they help in regulating your blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and are essential for proper brain function.
Try to avoid the standard baking cocoa powder, since most of the flavonoids have been lost with its heavy processing.
- Maca: Maca is basically a root and can be gotten in pills, powder or liquid form. It is an effective stress reliever, fertility/sexual booster and also rich in vitamins. It has an interesting earthy or nutty flavor that I really like.
- Goji Berries: These little red berries are the perfect smoothie toppers. They contain vitamins, proteins, minerals and are great antioxidants. They are plant-based proteins and therefore great for vegans and vegetarians.
- Chia Seeds: With very high fiber content, chia seeds are absolutely nutritional; they are a good source of healthy fats such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and contain a fair share of protein. Adding a tablespoon of chia seeds to your smoothie will really improve its nutritional content.
- Protein Powder: Not a superfood but could be an addition that makes sense if you’re on a quest to lose weight or you’re working out and need to increase protein intake. Add the protein powder into the smoothie, kick back and refresh your system.
Finally! It’s time for you to close that blender and mix things up…
So go ahead crush the contents in the blender.
If after 10-20 seconds the contents seem to be stuck without being shredded, stop the blender for a few seconds then run it again. If you have a Pulse option on your blender, this is its purpose. Repeat several times until things start to move well, then leave it to run for about a minute.
Beginner Smoothie Recipes For Weight Loss
Now that you know how to make a smoothie, and seen how easy it can be, it’s time for fun!
Try these first-timer recipes and let us know what you think (you can leave a comment at the bottom of this page).
I hope you enjoyed this smoothie cheat sheet. It is totally foolproof. I use it all the time and it’s helped me produce some wonderfully-tasting smoothies I never thought possible…
I am pretty sure your smoothie making skills will improve quick as time goes by. Just keep experimenting with various vegetables, fruits, condiments and liquid bases.
Have something you want to say, ask me or maybe some personal recipes you want to share? Then leave a comment in the comment section below and if this article was helpful to you in any way, please share with your friends!