You’ve seen books, blogs, and an endless array of smoothie recipes touting their health benefits and good-for-you results. But what do they really taste like? Is it even possible to combine fruit AND vegetables and come away with a smile on your face?

It’s normal to be skeptical when venturing into the land of blendified health, but you’ll eventually find a way to balance all the knowledge AND the ingredients. Here’s how:

  1. Pick a flavor that excites you. Sounds simple enough, but you need a guiding theme when you begin because you can easily mix up goopy concoctions that have no business being gulped let alone sipped. Chocolate’s a good choice when you’re just starting out because it contains “protein, calcium, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, sulfur, flavonoids, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids.” Not bad for something that tastes good and improves your mood.
  2. Find a companion flavor. Think of your main smoothie ingredients as the friends you hang with often. They’re comfortable around one another and somehow each brings out the best in the other. Keeping with the chocolate theme, try mixing blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries with it. The recipe below includes blueberries because they’re high in vitamin C and K and are known to fight inflammation.
  3. Choose the level of sweetness you want. In the beginning, think of sweetness as your key to the smoothie kingdom. You can use water, coconut milk, almond milk, or any other liquid beverage that tickles your fancy. For the recipe below, I recommend almond milk for both texture and flavor. You can also use coconut or cashew milk.
  4. Tread lightly with strong tasting greens. Here’s where things can get tricky. A lot of green smoothies call for kale, but what if you’re not a fan…or you’ve never tried it before? Do you really want to waste all those other great ingredients by picking someone else’s greens? Didn’t think so. One of the most blendable greens, and by “blendable” we mean indistinguishable when mixed, is spinach. You’ll get vitamin K and potentially lower your blood pressure without the bitterness.
  5. Go thick, go thin, go wild. Finally, you need to decide what type of texture you want. If you want to have a thicker smoothie, you can add almond butter, bananas, oats, or even avocado. They all blend into the mix and create a milk shake texture. But if you’re a gulper, then you want to go thin. This can be achieved by adding more liquid once everything is blended.

Honestly, there’s no right or wrong here. You’re answering to your taste buds, so let your imagination guide you. And in case you’re running low on recipe ideas, here’s one to get you started.

Healthy Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

2 cups fresh spinach (about 2 handfuls)

1/4 cup blueberries, frozen

1 banana

1–2 tablespoons almond butter

1–2 tablespoons oats

1 tablespoon cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)

1–2 cups light vanilla almond milk

Place all ingredients and some ice into a high-speed blender, NutriBullet, or Vitamix and blend until smooth. Thicken or thin to desired consistency.

Cheers to your health!

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