As a person who made a living* making smoothies for high-level athletes for the past 3 years, I am confident in my smoothie/shake-making abilities. When they think of smoothies and shakes, most people probably think of:
A. a bodybuilding gym bro chugging water and protein powder in a shaker bottle
B. a health-obsessed yoga guru sipping on a green juice in her Instagram story
While we might be bombarded with these images on social media, there are actually shakes for all kinds of health goals - weight loss, weight gain, muscle gain, maintenance, etc. The key to a perfectly balanced smoothie or shake is to add ingredients that give you either macronutrients (protein, fat, carb) or vitamins and minerals and other good-for-you things.
Step 1: The Frozen
Frozen fruit is perfect for a refreshing healthy fruit smoothie. You might be tempted to add fresh fruit, but stick with frozen for the perfect consistency. The water content in fresh fruit may make your shake too liquidy - you'll add ice, blend, a little more ice, and soon you'll have enough smoothie servings for 10 of your closest friends. It's a situation I know well.
Ice, on the other hand, is a great first step on the way to making a protein-packed chocolate, peanut butter, or vanilla shake.
You’ll get better at estimating how much you need for a single serving with practice, but in general, eyeballing about a cup and a half of frozen stuff works well.
Step 2: The Liquid
100% fruit juice is a sweet addition to frozen fruit. Plus, it helps cover up the less sweet flavors of other healthy ingredients (think: spinach, flax, oats). If weight loss is a goal for you, try using half juice and half water in your smoothies to cut down on calories.
If you're blending up a chocolatey, nut buttery, satisfying shake, you also have great liquid options. Chocolate milk helps the body recover after a hard workout, so it has a delicious place in a post-workout shake! If you are looking to bulk up or gain weight, you can even add a ready-to-drink shake from the store as your liquid to add extra calories and protein.
For both fruity and chocolatey/vanilla-y/peanut buttery type smoothies, milk is also a welcome addition. We all have our preferred milk of choice, whether it be skim cow's milk, almond milk, soy milk, even cashew milk! Milk is a neutral liquid that gives some creaminess and a hint of protein too.
Step 3: The Add-Ins
There are endless ingredients you can add to boost the flavor and nutritional density of a shake. Here are some examples of add-ins:
- spinach, mixed greens, etc.
- chia seeds, flax seeds
- nut butters
- powdered peanut butter (PB2, for example)
- protein powder
- Greek yogurt
Bonus: Delicious Combos
- frozen mango + orange peach mango juice + vanilla protein powder
- frozen mixed berries + spinach + vanilla protein powder + Greek yogurt + almond milk + chia
- frozen strawberries + peanut butter + almond milk (try this!!!)
- frozen bananas + peanut butter + almond milk + vanilla protein powder
There are infinite more yummy shake combos to try. Be creative, try new foods, and don’t forget the frozen, the liquid and the add-ins before you press blend!
*did not make a living off of smoothies