Recipes: The Perfect Smoothie
Cary, NC — The perfect smoothie is flavorful, slightly-sweet and, well, very smooth. I’ll share the basic formula I use to make a great one at home.
The Perfect Smoothie
A smoothie, when made well, is a treat that almost anyone likes. I enjoy them all year-round but find myself reaching for the blender much more often as the weather gets warmer.
Making smoothies yourself is a lot more economical and is, usually, healthier than buying them out. The only problem? The art of making a good smoothie at home can be hit-or-miss.
Some common complaints? An icy texture (or, on the other end, a “foamy” texture), a bland, sour taste or–and this is the worst–“I just can’t get it to blend without burning out the motor.”
Here’s the order, and relative amounts, of ingredients I use to make one serving.
The Basic Formula
- Add fruit first. For one smoothie, use approximately 1-1 1/2 cups of fruit.
- Then add liquid (1-2 cups).
- Add crushed ice and extra ingredients to your preference (if you use all or mostly frozen fruit, don’t add ice!) and then blend.
- Sweeten if necessary.
Now, Pick Your Ingredients
Here’s where you can get creative. Under each kind of ingredient, I’ve listed some tips, tricks and favorites that I’ve collected over the years.
Step 1: Fruit
I like to use at least two different kinds of fruits (but three or more are even better). Whether you use fresh, frozen or a combination of the two is up to you.
If you’re a smoothie-drinker, you should never toss spoiled fruit. If you notice that unused fruit is about to go bad, prepare it (peel and slice bananas, cap and half strawberries, etc.) and freeze the pieces in an air-tight container. You can use them for smoothies later on.
Use whatever you like; whatever is in season. You can’t really go wrong. My favorites are:
- Bananas (the easiest way to naturally sweeten your smoothie)
- Blueberries (they blend easily and are full of antioxidants)
- Strawberries (because who doesn’t love strawberries?)
- Pineapple (again, a delicious sweetener)
Step 2: Liquid or Base
The secret to a smoothie that blends smoothly and easily? A good blender and, even more importantly, lots of liquid. My go-to is any fruit juice (though I try to avoid tangy liquid like orange juice), but you can also use milk (I like almond milk), iced green tea or coconut water. Depending on what kind of smoothie you’re making, you can even use iced coffee.
Which should you pick? If you want a classic fruity, flavorful, sweet smoothie, I like apple juice, pineapple juice or V8 fruit juice. If you want something with less calories, try the others (green tea, milk, coconut water, etc.). Just don’t add so much that you dilute the flavor.
Step 3: Ice & Extras
As long as you use tasty fruit and enough base to make your smoothie blend easily, feel free to add extras to your smoothie. Greek yogurt, fresh spinach leaves and chia seeds are just some ingredients you can add to boost your smoothie’s nutritional content without changing its flavor.
I add crushed ice as I blend, because the amount really depends on what kind of fruit you used (fresh or frozen) and how much liquid you added. Start with a handful and go from there.
You can always add more, but adding too much will give you that unwanted icy texture.
Didn’t Turn Out Right?
Too foamy? Add more ice.
Not sweet? Add agave nectar, honey, sugar or maple syrup to taste.
Isn’t blending? Make sure there’s liquid at the bottom of your blender. If there isn’t, stop the blender and add more or “poke” the ingredients around with a spoon to evenly distribute them.
Story by Jessica Patrick. Lead photo by I Believe I Can Fry.
That sounds like a tasty smoothie, but your readers should understand that a smoothie like this should be treated like candy, not a nutritional enhancement to a diet. Fruit + fruit juice is nearly pure sugar. Even a leafy green + fruit juice doesn’t usually justify the caloric hit for most people (perhaps if the alternative was soda or plain juice, but otherwise not). It’s much healthier to use a water or milk (we also prefer almond, but coconut & soy are fine, too, as is coconut water), a little bit of fruit (preferably frozen so you can replace the need for ice cubes that dilute it further) and several servings of whole vegetables (carrots, beets, spinach/kale/collards, etc).
PB2 powdered peanut butter is an excellent extra ingredient. Adds protein without a ton of extra calories, and doesn’t stick to the side of the blender like regular peanut butter.