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Not All Smoothies Created Equal: 12 Tips for Making a Healthy Smoothie

You don't need a recipe to make a healthy smoothie.
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Growing up in an era where blenders were used for either milkshakes or frozen margaritas (depending on your age and time of day), I didn't feel bad when my twenty year old blender finally conked out on me. After all, milkshakes got me bloated and margaritas got me loaded. I didn't miss my blender at all until I, like many others, discovered smoothies--the newest version of healthy eating.

If you do a Google search on "smoothie", there are over 17 million results--that's a whole lot of information about fruits and veggies in a blender! Authors have written best selling smoothie cookbooks promising weight loss, increased energy and better overall health. Raw foodies are feeling vindicated. Parents think they've found a magic way to get their kids to eat vegetables. And most everyone agrees smoothies are the easiest meal to make. America has gotten crazy over smoothies. But like any craze, beware of overdoing it. Not all smoothies are created equal.

I finally did invest in a new blender. (Vitamix is definitely not your mother's blender!) Then I started making smoothies using mainly fruit and fruit juices, yogurt and a teaspoon of store bought green powder. Naturally, they were delish! It was like having a dessert for breakfast. Little did I know, I was really having dessert for breakfast because of the high amount of sugar and dairy I was using. As I learned more, experimented more and tasted more, I realized the great thing about smoothies is you can control the ingredients. Also, the bad thing about smoothies is you can control the ingredients. If your smoothie consists of high fat dairy, all fruit and added sugar, you may as well just have a candy bar!

You don't need a recipe to make a healthy smoothie. You just need common sense and an awareness of your body and how certain foods make you feel. For example, I know most dairy gives me a stomachache, so I no longer use dairy or anything with whey protein in my smoothie. I also know that the American diet (mine included at times), needs more fiber and veggies, and therefore, I incorporate a high percentage of those into my smoothies. Lastly, everyone needs variety in their diet so I only make smoothies 3-5 mornings a week for breakfast, and I always vary the ingredients.

Here are 12 tips for making a healthy smoothie. Pick and choose which work for you and your body. Don't use every ingredient listed below in every smoothie; they're only suggestions. Just be sure you have a combination of fruit, veggies and fiber.

1. Use a high-powered blender.
2. Use water or coconut water as a base instead of fruit juice. (Also add ice if you want it frosty.)
3. Use 2/3 greens (spinach, kale, cucumber, arugula, etc) and 1/3 fruit (frozen berries work great).
4. Add seeds for protein and fiber (hemp, chia, flax).
5. Add herbs and spices (mint, cayenne pepper, ginger).
6. If you want a creamy smoothie, use unsweetened almond milk or almond butter instead of dairy.
7. If you like dairy, use low fat or nonfat plain unsweetened yogurt.
8. Add a scoop of store bought green powder. (Be sure to read the ingredients.)
9. Add a couple of pitted dates for sweetness.
10. Add several nuts for crunchiness.
11. Add a teaspoon of Maca for energy.
12. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime for tanginess.

Blend and enjoy!