The best way to enjoy a smoothie? Make it yourself.
It’s refreshing, easy to sip on the go, and packed with health-boosting nutrients. Smoothies from grocery stores and quick-service chains often contain ridiculous amounts of sugar and fat—providing “upwards of 600 calories, enough saturated fat to rival a double cheeseburger, and carbohydrate grams in the triple digits—and that’s just for the small size,” according to WebMD. But healthy smoothies with the right mix of ingredients “give you a fantastic nutritional bang for the buck," Wendy Bazilian, RD, author of The SuperFoods Rx Diet, tells Women’s Health magazine.
Use the following tips to whip up the perfect drink to flood your body with nutrition without adding pudge.
Healthy smoothies have plenty of ice.
According to Health magazine, research shows that people who drank dense smoothies felt fuller than those who had a thinner version—even when the calorie counts were the same! The best way to thicken your smoothie without adding calories? Ice.
Healthy smoothies have nonfat dairy.
Calorie-bomb smoothies may use ice cream or full-fat yogurt, but nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese gives your smoothie a healthy dose of filling protein without excess calories.
Healthy smoothies have whole fruit.
Does your go-to smoothie blend fruit juice instead of cut-up fruit? You’re missing out on a crucial opportunity for fiber, which takes longer to digest so you don’t get hunger pangs an hour after eating. Try banana, mixed berries, or apple. Frozen fruit may make your smoothie taste thicker and frostier, according to Bon Appetit, which recommends chunking peaches, plums, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, and apricots, then spreading on a tray and freezing until firm.
Healthy smoothies aren't afraid of veggies.
Unless you’re already on board with green juice, it may seem gross to add veggies to your smoothie. But Mike Roussell, PhD, tells Shape magazine that “spinach and kale are both surprisingly neutral tasting when blended.” Even though they’ll turn your beverage green, they shouldn’t affect the taste too much.
Healthy smoothies contain omega-3s.
A tablespoon of flaxseed meal goes a long way to add both fiber and inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.
Healthy smoothies boast healthy fats.
A little bit of unsaturated fat (half an avocado, or a tablespoon of nut butter) keeps you full, too. The key word is little, or else you’ll turn the smoothie into a diet disaster.
Healthy smoothies taste sweet—without added sugar.
If the smoothie doesn’t taste good, there’s no point in drinking it. But you can achieve that sweet sensation with light coconut milk, coconut water, or water. (Again, fruit juices contain added sugar.) You can also blend in a teaspoon or two of honey, a little vanilla extract, or some unsweetened cocoa powder or cinnamon.