Last year at the beginning of January, I vowed to make more smoothies for many reasons. They’re a healthy snack or post-workout treat, a good way to get in your servings of fruit for the day, and for an obnoxiously picky eater like myself, a great way to trick yourself into consuming some vegetables.
After about a month of smoothie making, I got really bored with them. Like most people, I’m trying to be healthier in 2016 and actually stick with it this time. For me, that meant smoothie experiments, and figuring out just how I like them. It was a messy job, but I picked up a few tips that might help you find your perfect smoothie too.
Ice vs. No Ice
I know many people who don’t like putting ice in their smoothies. Sometimes it gives smoothies too much of a slushy vibe, or it really waters things down once the ice starts melting. Occasionally, I’ll throw a couple of cubes in mine to help thicken it up if the consistency is too thin. The best solution for anti-ice smoothie lovers is to freeze your fruit instead. That way you get the frosty thickness without the grit that ice can add. Keep little Ziploc bags of fruit in your freezer for perfect portions.
Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
This stuff is a total game changer. While I am a fan of regular milk and drink it with my breakfast most mornings, almond milk is great for smoothies. It has half the calories of regular milk, so it’s a great option if you need to add a decent amount of liquid to get the right consistency. I also like it because it seems to be thinner than regular milk, which means you don’t have to add as much of it if your smoothie is too thick.
Bananas: The Magical Ingredient
To just come right out and say it, I’m not really a fan of bananas, at least outside of smoothies. But in smoothies? There is just something about them that really adds to the texture and smoothness. I’ve come across several recipes that say, “You can’t even taste the banana!” which I think is a lie in most cases, but that could just be me. But if you like bananas and you like super smooth smoothies, then make sure to pop some banana slices in the freezer the day before you want to get your smoothie on.
Another way to ensure a smoothie gives you enough energy to last until lunch time is to add a little bit of fat. I’m talking about the good kind of fat, like avocados and nut butters. Adding actual nuts to your smoothie is also an option, but the end result might be a bit gritty. Instead you can add a tablespoon or two of almond or cashew butter. It’s the same with chia and flax seeds. Start out with a little, and add more if you need to adjust the texture.
I love adding yogurt to smoothies because it’s just another way to add flavor and texture. I’m a “smooth” smoothie kind of person, and I love the creaminess yogurt lends. Vanilla Greek yogurt is used the most in my kitchen, but there are so many options these days. Some yogurts have way more grams of sugar than others, so be on the lookout for that.
If you’re whipping up a smoothie for breakfast or after a workout, you might consider adding some protein powder to help fill you up. Protein powders come in all kinds of flavors these days, from chocolate and vanilla, to berries and various desserts. Just do your research and check the nutrition info before buying to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting.
Greens and Vegetables
I’m one of those people who has to trick themselves into eating green things, but smoothies are the perfect way to do that! Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens blend up nicely and are hardly noticeable among all the yogurt, berries, powders, and ice. Some other veggies you should try in your smoothies: carrots, cucumbers, and zucchini.
Last but not least, and maybe even most importantly, sweeteners. I’ve come to accept that I just like sweeter things in life, so when it comes to smoothies, stevia is my BFF. A touch of honey or pure maple syrup are commonly used to add a bit of sweetness as well, just pay attention to how much you’re using. Organic honey and maple syrup might be better for you than refined sugar, but they don’t have less calories. Don’t be afraid to add a little sweetness if you know your smoothie is going to be a little off without it!
What is your favorite secret smoothie ingredient? Tweet us at @litdarling!