There's no denying that smoothies are one of the easiest and most delicious ways to add a clean boost of nutrition to your diet. This is especially true for picky eaters who may not getting their recommended fruit and veggie servings each day. But when you set out to build the perfect smoothie, it's important to make sure you've got everything on hand and ready-to-go so you don't cancel out the convenience factor. That's why we’ve put together this easy 7-step cheat sheet to help you build a better smoothie.
Step 1: Choose your base.
Your first decision is whether you're going for a creamy or savory smoothie or something more fruity/slushy. If you're going for creamy, a great base is unsweetened almond, coconut or oat milk. If you want to go the fruity/slushy route, try unflavored coconut water. It contains a lot less sugar than juice and you can make it creamy by adding a frozen banana, avocado, protein powder or yogurt. Start with about 8oz of your preferred liquid base.
Step 2: Add whole fruits and/or veggies.
Fresh or frozen fruits and veggies are an ideal addition to your smoothie to boost flavor, nutrients and fiber. Some great options are berries, pineapple, mango, kale, spinach, ginger… just about anything you have on hand works. About 1 cup of fruit and/or veggies is ideal.
Step 3: Fill up with fiber.
Keep yourself feeling full longer by kicking up your fiber factor (especially if you aren't using a lot of whole fruits or veggies) with chia seed, ground flaxseed like Forti-FlaxTM or a tasty seed blend (these are also great vegan sources of Omega-3). A tablespoon or two is ideal.
Step 4: Go for the greens.
Powdered greens are one of the very best additions to smoothies because they pack a HUGE nutritional punch. Barlean's GreensTM formulas are loaded with fruits, veggies, green superfoods, antioxidants, fiber and more. Chocolate flavored greens taste amazing in a milk-based, creamy smoothie (think chocolate milkshake) and fruit flavored greens add a tasty sweetness to any fruity/slushy smoothie. Unflavored organic greens work well in either. Plus, adding powdered greens to a smoothie is a great way to mask the "green taste" for those picky eaters in your life. A scoop (about 2 tablespoons) is perfect.
Step 5: Whatever you do, don't forget the Omega-3s.
Omega-3s are called "essential" fatty acids because we need them to stay healthy but our bodies don't make them on their own - so we must get them in our diets. But not everyone likes or eats enough fatty fish, so Barlean's Seriously Delicious Omega-3 (formerly called Omega Swirl) is the ultimate smoothie enhancer. Whether you choose fish oil, flax oil or a blend, they come in a variety of flavors that add powerful nutrition and incredible taste to any smoothie. Add a spoonful or two based on your desired mgs. of Omega-3.
Step 6: Give your brain a boost with smart fat.
Adding some coconut oil, MCT oil, avocado or any healthy nut butter is a great way to get in those all-important, brain-boosting smart fats. Try a spoonful or two to start. (Go easy with the MCT if you're using it for the first because it can cause some people stomach discomfort. Start small and build up over time for best results.)
Step 7: Pump up the protein.
For a true all-in-one meal replacement, add in a scoop of your favorite protein powder or a half cup of yogurt. Just remember, if you're using vanilla flavored protein or yogurt in a fruity/slush smoothie, it will eliminate that clear, fruit/slushy taste and consistency and make it more like a fruit flavored milkshake.
Don't forget the ice, ice, baby.
If you've already added in a frozen banana, avocado or yogurt, you'll only need three or four ice cubes to get a perfect smoothie consistency. If not, add a cup of ice or more to get your ideal texture. Tip: Frozen bananas are great in smoothies and a perfect solution (along with banana bread!) for bananas that have turned a little too brown for your liking. Just make sure you peel them first and put them in a zippered freezer bag.