What are good things to put in a smoothie?

Smoothies are a delicious and nutritious blended drink made from fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and other ingredients. They are a great way to get a concentrated dose of nutrients, especially vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. With endless combinations of ingredients, there are smoothies for every taste and dietary need.

Fruits

Fruits form the base of most smoothies and provide natural sweetness and lots of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. Some good fruits to use in smoothies include:

  • Bananas – Bananas add creaminess and sweetness to smoothies. They also provide potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber.
  • Berries – Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries add flavor, sweetness, and antioxidants including vitamin C and anthocyanins.
  • Mangoes – Mangoes are sweet and tropical. They provide vitamins A and C.
  • Pineapple – Pineapple gives a tropical flair and supplies vitamin C, manganese, and bromelain which aids digestion.
  • Cherries – Cherries add sweetness and compounds that help reduce inflammation.
  • Pomegranate – Pomegranate arils (seeds) add a refreshingly tart flavor and supply polyphenols which act as antioxidants.
  • Apples – Apples give smoothies sweetness and a bit of tartness. They are a source of fiber, vitamin C, and quercetin which has anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Grapes – Both red and green grapes can add flavor, nutrients, and sweetness to smoothies. Grapes provide vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, and beneficial plant compounds.
  • Kiwi – Kiwi gives smoothies a tropical twist and supplies vitamin C and potassium.
  • Peaches – Peaches have a sweet, juicy flavor. They contain vitamin C and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.

For green smoothies, good fruit choices include green apples, pears, honeydew melon, and pineapple which help cover up the flavor of the leafy greens.

Vegetables

Adding vegetables to smoothies substantially increases the nutritional content. Some healthy veggies to use include:

  • Spinach – Spinach is the base for many green smoothies. It has a mild flavor and supplies iron, folate, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin K, and antioxidants.
  • Kale – Kale is another leafy green that blends well into smoothies. It offers vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, potassium, and beneficial plant compounds.
  • Carrots – Carrots lend a sweetness and bright orange color. They provide vitamin A in the form of beta carotene and vitamin K.
  • Beets – Beets have an earthy flavor and provide nitrates and pigments with antioxidant effects as well as folate and manganese.
  • Sweet potato – Baked and peeled sweet potato can be used to add fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants to smoothies.
  • Avocado – Avocado contributes creaminess and heart-healthy fats along with fiber, folate, vitamin K, and potassium.

Other veggies like bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, and celery can also be successfully blended into smoothies. Just be sure to remove any stems or seeds first.

Dairy and Dairy Alternatives

Adding some dairy or dairy alternatives to smoothies helps create a creamy texture and boosts the protein content. Some options include:

  • Milk – Milk (dairy, soy, almond, etc.) adds protein and calcium to smoothies. For a nutrient boost, choose fortified milk options.
  • Yogurt – Yogurt provides protein and calcium along with probiotics for better gut health. Greek yogurt is especially high in protein.
  • Kefir – This fermented milk drink has a tart flavor and supplies protein, calcium, and probiotics.
  • Cottage cheese – Cottage cheese blends into smoothies seamlessly while adding protein, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12 and riboflavin.
  • Silken tofu – Blended into smoothies, silken tofu adds plant-based protein, calcium, and isoflavones which may lower heart disease and cancer risk.
  • Plant-based milk – Nut milks (almond, cashew, coconut) increase smoothies’ creaminess and nutrition like protein, calcium, and vitamin E depending on the type.

Seeds

Adding a tablespoon or two of seeds boosts the fiber and nutrient content of smoothies. Some great options are:

  • Chia seeds – Chia seeds thicken smoothies when soaked in liquid. They provide omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and antioxidants.
  • Flax seeds – Flax seeds add fiber, protein, thiamine, magnesium, phosphorus, and plant compounds including lignans that have antioxidant effects.
  • Hemp seeds – Hemp seeds supply protein, all essential amino acids, linoleic acid, anti-inflammatory gamma-linolenic acid, iron, and zinc.
  • Pumpkin seeds – Pumpkin seeds give smoothies crunch (if not fully blended) along with protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese and plant sterols that help lower cholesterol.

Nut Butters

Nut butters like peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter lend smoothies a creamy, nutty richness and boost the protein and healthy fat content. Just a tablespoon or two is plenty to add nutrition without overpowering the other flavors. Other nut butters like pistachio butter or walnut butter can also be used.

Protein Powders

Adding a scoop of protein powder significantly bumps up the protein content of smoothies. It also makes smoothies more filling. Some good options are:

  • Whey protein powder – Derived from milk, whey protein provides all essential amino acids. It absorbs quickly so it’s good for post-workout smoothies.
  • Plant protein powder – Protein powders made from peas, rice, hemp, etc. are suitable for vegans and those with dairy allergies. They provide a protein boost along with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Greek yogurt – Using Greek yogurt is an easy way to increase a smoothie’s protein content. It also provides probiotics.

Healthy Fats

Incorporating some healthy fats into smoothies helps keep you full and satisfied for hours after drinking them. Some sources to use include:

  • Avocado – Rich, creamy avocado blends perfectly into smoothies while adding heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber.
  • Nut butter – Nut butters provide smoothies with healthy fats and plant-based protein.
  • Chia seeds – Chia seeds are a great plant-based source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids like ALA.
  • Flax seeds – Like chia seeds, flax seeds also supply omega-3 ALA fats.
  • Coconut – Coconut butter or coconut milk add healthy medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), lauric acid, and fiber to smoothies.

Boosts and Mix-Ins

In addition to fruits, veggies, protein, and fats, other ingredients can be added to smoothies for extra nutrition and flavor. Some nourishing boosts and mix-ins include:

  • Cacao nibs or cocoa powder – These provide antioxidants including flavonoids that are beneficial for heart health.
  • Cinnamon – Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and helps regulate blood sugar.
  • Fresh herbs – Herbs like mint, basil, cilantro, and parsley lend unique flavor. Mint aids digestion while basil has antibacterial compounds.
  • Ginger – Ginger adds a spicy kick and compounds that reduce inflammation and ease nausea.
  • Matcha – Matcha green tea powder boosts smoothies’ antioxidant content and provides natural caffeine.
  • Turmeric – Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in turmeric fight oxidative stress and boost immunity.
  • Wheatgrass – This supplement provides a concentrated dose of nutrients including vitamins A, C, E, and K, iron, magnesium, calcium, amino acids, chlorophyll, and antioxidants.
  • Nutritional yeast – Nutritional yeast strengthens the immune system, adds protein, vitamins, minerals, and savory “cheese-like” flavor.
  • Chlorella – Chlorella is a nutrient-dense green algae that increases smoothies’ protein content and supplies vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega-3s, and fiber.
  • Spirulina – This blue-green algae adds protein, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds like phycocyanin which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Sweeteners

To naturally sweeten smoothies, good options include:

  • Bananas – Ripe bananas lend sweetness, creaminess, and fiber.
  • Dates – Dates blend easily and provide a caramel-like sweetness.
  • Apples – Apples enhance smoothies’ sweetness with fiber and nutrients.
  • Grapes – Grapes contain natural sugar and boost smoothies’ sweet flavor.
  • Dried fruit – Small amounts of raisins, apricots, prunes, etc. add sweetness along with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Stevia – This calorie-free sweetener comes from a natural plant source.
  • Honey – Using just a drizzle adds sweetness along with antioxidants and probiotics from this natural sweetener.
  • Maple syrup – Maple syrup provides minerals like zinc and manganese along with antioxidants.
  • Monk fruit – Monk fruit extract is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar but contains no calories or carbs.

To avoid added sugars, steer clear of ingredients like white sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, and corn syrup.

Liquid Bases

The liquid base is important for achieving the right smoothie consistency. Some healthy options include:

  • Water – Plain water is calorie-free and keeps smoothies from getting too thick.
  • Unsweetened almond milk – Almond milk adds creaminess without any added sugars.
  • Coconut water – Coconut water blends well in smoothies while providing electrolytes.
  • Green tea – Matcha or brewed green tea lend smoothies antioxidants like EGCG.
  • Cold coffee – Coffee gives smoothies a caffeine boost while contributing to a richer texture.
  • Kefir – This fermented milk has a thin, drinkable texture and supplies protein and probiotics.

Ice

Ice helps achieve thick, frosty smoothie texture. Some ice options include:

  • Ice cubes – Regular ice cubes work well in smoothies. For quicker blending, crush them first.
  • Frozen fruit – Using frozen fruits like mangos, berries, or bananas eliminates the need for ice while adding flavor and nutrients.
  • Frozen greens – Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens can be frozen and used in place of ice for green smoothies.

Conclusion

Smoothies are an easy way to increase your daily intake of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and other vital nutrients. The possibilities for ingredient combinations are endless. Tailor smoothies to your own nutritional needs and taste preferences by experimenting with fruits, veggies, greens, dairy or dairy alternatives, seeds, nut butters, protein powders, and other mix-ins. Use primarily whole, fresh ingredients and limit added sugars. With the right balance of produce, protein, fiber, and healthy fats, smoothies can be a nutritious and satisfying meal or snack any time of day.

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