Smooth, creamy and bursting with nutrition, healthy smoothies are easy to make for breakfast, plus they are customizable for your nutritional and taste preference. Whirl ingredients together in a high-speed blender and enjoy. But there are so many considerations and options! Let me walk you through them in this guide to making healthy smoothies.
As a follow on to my homemade almond milk post, here is my recipe for healthy smoothies. We drink these almost every morning for breakfast. I’m not one for big, heavy breakfasts and have found that if I stick with drinking smoothies I feel good and my energy is high throughout the morning.
Tip #1: Choose the Right Milk
My basic recipe starts with easy, homemade almond milk (recipe here). You can also use boxed or refrigerated almond milk, coconut, rice, oat, or hemp milk. Be sure to read labels and get unsweetened, unflavored plain versions to avoid added sugars and unwelcome additives like carrageenan.
You can make your own coconut milk using organic canned coconut milk. It tastes terrific, is always in the pantry and you can use it half and half with water or vary the blend to your dietary need.
Tip #2: Pick the Right Protein
There are an overwhelming number of protein powder options on the market, from whey (cow and goat milk) and egg white, to excellent plant-based, collagen, and vegan options based on brown rice and pea protein.
When choosing a protein supplement powder, read labels for added or hidden sugar, additives, and high sodium. Read this for help on choosing a protein powder and non-powder options options.
If you are looking to stretch your grocery budget and protein powders seem expensive, try using half a serving and boosting with plant-based ingredients such as shelled hemp seeds and chia seeds.
Tip #3: Get Enough Protein
The minimum for a woman is 46 grams and for men it is 56 grams as a minimum. Another way to figure your need is by multiplying your weight in pounds by .36 (or .8 grams per kilo).
If you are active or have special health needs like pregnancy, athletic training or sports, or your over 70, you will need more. Current studies show that the needs for optimal health are higher. I aim for half my body weight per day which is more than the minimum.
Tip #4: Choose Healthy Fruit
Frozen frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are terrific low-sugar berry choices for healthy protein smoothies. Use about a half cup. A little banana makes a smoothie creamy and is a good source of potassium.
Choose a greenish banana as they are lower in sugar, or use just a half. Mango is good too (especially with coconut milk), but overall, watch how much sugar, even natural sugar, you add to your smoothies.
Another fruit that adds healthy fat, creaminess and fiber is avocado. Yep, it's actually a fruit. Use up to a half of a small one, and watch the overall balance of your smoothie.
Tip #5: Add Fiber
Because the American diet is low in fiber and getting the recommended 25-35 grams per day is a challenge, I add a scoop of powdered fiber. It's like insurance. We use organic acacia fiber. It disappears into the smoothie and you’ll never know it’s there, plus it is a prebiotic. Prebiotic support a healthy gut microbiome.
Another great adds on is ground flaxseed. For the best nutrition, grind 2 tablespoons fresh then add to your smoothie. Use a small coffee/spice grinder.
Tip #6: Sweetening Options
To sweeten your smoothies, add a few drops of flavored liquid stevia, a little honey, maple syrup or a chopped date. The stevia drops are made by Sweet Leaf and come in more than a dozen flavors. Find them at many markets and online.
Another great option is monk fruit or a monk-fruit based (keto) simple syrup. Try the maple flavor or plain.
Tip #7: Use Power Add-ons
Just the few ingredients I’ve listed make a healthy and satisfying smoothie. If you want to take your smoothie one step further, try adding superfood supplements for extra nutritional power. Here is a list of possible power add-ons:
- Acai Powder: The small, dark purple Amazonian berry (ah-SIGH-ee) that provides exceptional amounts of antioxidants, omega fats, protein and fiber, plus it’s an immunity and energy booster. We now use frozen acai packets. Trader Joes has them at the best price.
- Omega 3 Fish Oil: We use an high potency brand with a light lemon taste. It disappears into your smoothie and you’ll never know its there (some taste terrible). Store it in the freezer.
- Raw organic cacao powder: A top source of antioxidants, magnesium, iron along with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, even protein and fiber!
- Chis Seeds: Chia is a great source of healthy omega fats, protein, antioxidants and dietary fiber. It has a neutral flavor and because it absorbs water, it thickens liquids.
- Maca Powder: Maca is an adaptogen, a natural substance that works with your body to help manage stress and energy balance. This ancient Peruvian superfood was highly prized by Incan warriors to increase stamina and combat fatigue. For more on adaptogens, read here.
- Pomegranate Powder: Not only is the fruit nutritious and delicious, you can add the powder to your smoothies. It's immune-boosting, full of antioxidants, and great for heart health.
- Pure MCT oil: Healthy fat and great brain fuel, buy either a MCT blend or go with all C8 oil. It has zero coconut flavor and just 1 tablespoon will do it.
These extras may seem pricey, but we believe they are worth investing in because of the nutritional boost provided. If you are looking for a super way to start your day, try healthy protein smoothies. They work for a quick power lunch or post-workout too.
A basic healthy smoothie recipe
Basic Healthy Smoothie
- 10 ounces unsweetened almond, oat, or other milk
- 1-2 scoops protein powder of choice
- ½ small greenish banana
- ½ cup frozen berries or mango
- 1 teaspoon acacia fiber
- 1 tablespoon MCT or coconut oil optional
- 6 drops flavored liquid stevia, honey or maple syrup optional
- Blend together at high speed in a blender and enjoy right away. If it’s too thick, add a little more milk or water.