How To Make Perfect Smoothies: a complete guide
Very often people ask me about my renowned smoothies: how do I make them, what blender do I use, where do I get ideas from, how do I find the time… And it isn’t just people who follow me, but also friends and family. Questions like these and many more actually have simple answers. But I thought, instead of many little posts here and there, recipes, and tips, I would compile them and make One Big How-To-Make-Smoothies Guide for you. Think of it as a smoothie bible of sorts.
But first, a confession. I am no smoothie expert. I think I just look like one because I take good pictures, and let’s face it, smoothies are all the rage and people go crazy for a glass filled with something colourful and a funky straw. The idea of a smoothie, supposedly the most perfect and delicious way to be healthy, appeals to most. If this is what you’re expecting, I’m sorry to say you’ll be sadly disappointed. I am not going to promise you can loose 5kg in a week by drinking smoothies, because I do not believe in this nor do I believe in diets (in fact I’ve been on a two year long reconciliation with my body and the way I look, which in turn has healed my relationship with food).
I am here to tell you how you can make smoothies without a professional expensive juicer, without spending money on unnecessary books, and without making a huge mess of your kitchen.
I make an average of one smoothie every two days, and I keep my kitchen fairly clean and mess-free. I am also here to tell you the personal reason why I make smoothies.
I’m not some organic, ultra-healthy fitness goddess who goes to the gym regularly and downs 3 smoothies per day, eats rice with a tin of tuna for protein and hikes for 8 hours on the weekends for fun. If this is who you are, and it makes you happy, then that is absolutely marvelous and I’m happy for you! But if you think you’ll find a fitness buddy in me… I’ll be forced to admit that the only serious exercise I do is yoga once a week, because it is available to me during working hours in the building literally across from my office. That’s my level of laziness! Going to the gym is a struggle for me. Moving my butt off the couch and going ANYWHERE to work out is not something that motivates me. I would describe myself as of an average weight and height, and I do my best to keep my nutrition varied. That said, there are some things that are very important for me.
I keep myself as active and hydrated as life allows me. I drink plenty of water (minimum 2l per day, often more) and as I work in an office, I force myself to walk the furthest possible to get more water. I also keep a small refillable bottle so I’ll have to get up regularly. I eat vegetables in almost every meal I have (I motivate myself by choosing the veggies I like best, such as courgettes or green beans) and I try my best at eating fruit. This is the main reason I make smoothies: otherwise, I simply don’t eat fruit.
So there you have it, the real reason behind the fact is that I find it hard to eat a piece of fruit. I have tried many different ways to coax myself, and I should theoretically have everything in my favour, as I work in an office within walking distance to supermarkets with fresh fruit available throughout the day. But it just doesn’t happen. I can make an exception every now and again, but the truth is that for whatever reason I end up not eating my daily dose of fruit. This changes slightly in the summer when it’s very hot, but living in Berlin makes coming across nice summer fruits difficult. So mostly, I blend the fruits into a drinkable consistency and that’s how I manage it.
Next I will share with you the basic, simple, foolproof three-step formula for smoothie making:
- a blender
- Peel and chop the fruit.
- Purée in the blender with very little water, to make sure there are no lumps.
- Add more water and blend to make it of a drinkable consistency.
That’s the most basic, easiest way to make a smoothie. Yes, this is what it all comes down to. No need for a fancy machine that will cost a lot and take up half of your kitchen’s surface space. No need for exotic fruits to make your smoothies taste great. A banana and some strawberries, for instance, would be enough to begin with.
Here’s what I always have available in my kitchen, and restock often:
FRUIT: bananas, mixed berries, apple slices, mango chunks
VEGETABLES: spinach, cucumber
NUTS: cashews, walnuts, peanut butter (organic and without added sugar)
DRIED FRUIT: dates, goji berries, cranberries, raisins, coconut flakes
SEEDS: chia, flaxseeds
OTHERS: ginger (peeled and sliced, frozen), ground cinnammon, honey, maca powder, matcha powder, cocoa powder
Some valuable tips: check the frozen section for peeled and chopped fruit. Many supermarkets nowadays sell bags of “smoothie” mixes. Just read the label to make sure it doesn’t contain additives, added sugar, etc. I do this with mixed berries, strawberries, raspberries and mango chunks.
Important note on frozen fruit: if you have a powerful blender, then this should be no issue. However, if you have anything below 500W it would be safest to defrost the fruit several hours in advance, to avoid any damage to the motor. Click here to see my product review of the blender I use.
Cut down dramatically on your preparation time! Buy fresh produce in big quantities, then peel, chop and distribute into reusable bags to freeze. That way, when you’re ready to make your smoothie, you don’t have to worry about all that, and it can take you as little as three minutes! I do this with bananas, apple slices, spinach, kiwis and ginger. This is how I can have a smoothie for breakfast even if I’m in a rush.
Dairy products on smoothies: yes or no? This is a big game changer. I love dairy and I also really like vegetable milks, and for that reason I will not have a debate on which is better. My only advice on this is: use it only if you will drink it straight after. If you’re pre-making something that will be consumed in several hours or even the day after, dairy and/or vegetable milks might ruin it for you (they change colour and/or taste).
Smoothie drink or smoothie bowl? I personally don’t do smoothie bowls, because the drinkable consistency eaten with a spoon puts me off. I mostly do chia smoothie puddings, because it gives it a dessert-like consistency which I enjoy. I like to make my smoothies quite liquid, and drink them with a straw.
Sweeteners. Some don’t mind if their smoothies have added sugar, but I do. This is one of the reasons I make food from scratch, knowing exactly what goes into my stomach. This is why I add the following ingredients whenever I want my smoothies to be extra sweet:
- dates. I use 3 per smoothie/person. You can soak them in water for a few hours or overnight to make them easier to blend.
- goji berries
What makes a smoothie green? Vegetables, duh! Now, I often add some vegetables to my smoothies, but this isn’t my main goal as I’m a big fan of eating veggies in my regular meals. So many times, my smoothies will not be “green” because I’ve got my vegetable needs covered. This is obviously a personal preference. But (and this is a Big But) I will say one thing in favour of adding spinach: it blends in with the other flavours and you won’t even be able to taste it! If you throw in no more than a handful, which already increases your intake of green leaves, I promise you it will not affect the flavour of your smoothie (it might affect the colour though).
Inspiration on what ingredients to combine to make smoothies can come from anything. I find inspiration on other recipes: carrot cake smoothie, apple pie smoothie, mojito style smoothie… The list is endless! I advocate for the less is more motto here, the more ingredients you mix, the less it will taste like anything at all. For the best results I keep it to a maximum of 5-6 ingredients, including nuts, dried fruits and seeds.