Is there anything as versatile, adaptable and convenient as a smoothie? I doubt it. Nor are there many things as universally beloved. Smoothies are scrumptious, indulgent concoctions that tickle the taste buds and, inexplicably, with every sip make you feel just a little bit happier and make the world a little bit friendlier. The smoothie is so much greater than the sum of it’s parts. And just to prove the smoothie can do no wrong, it can actually make you more awesome too.
Smoothie recipes contain a smorgasbord of ingredients, and depending on what you throw in, smoothies can ascend from mere flavorsome delight and sweet-tooth satisfier to the dizzying heights of muscle-building, energizing, health-enhancing superdrink. Why eat just one superfood, when you can combine a load of goodness into one easily digestible drink? Plus, it’s super quick and absurdly easy to prepare, making it weirdly efficient not just nutritionally, but generally. Created in the 1940’s, but perfectly designed for 21st century living.
Smoothie goals. Smoothie recipes can be tailored to suit your own needs. And while the flavors are virtually limitless, don’t just think about taste, but also why you’re making it. Do you want to lose weight or perhaps build muscle? Do you need a pick-me up or extra energy to power through an intense workout? Had a bad day and want to wind down? Or maybe you can’t get to sleep. With a little smoothie science, you can easily make a healthy smoothie that doesn’t just taste good (or look pretty), but actually does something.
Healthy Smoothie Recipes
Just be sure to make your own smoothies. Firstly, it’s a lot cheaper. Secondly, and more importantly, you’ll actually make a better quality smoothie at home, compared to any smoothie you could buy. Your ingredients are fresh or frozen fresh; you’re not adding a ton of sugar to make it taste better or weird stuff to make it look prettier. Bottom-line is, you know what’s in it.
Unfortunately, the raison d’être of smoothies appears to largely have been forgotten, and bought smoothies are less healthy, and more calorific than ever before. So, do yourself a favor and make your own.
How to sweeten. The sweetness of your smoothie heavily depends on the ripeness of the fruit you add. If you find your smoothie recipe needs a little more sweetness, try to avoid sugar (if you must, use brown sugar), and instead add a little honey (preferably Manuka!), cinnamon (sweetens without actually adding calories), xylitol, stevia, figs or dates.
Healthy Smoothie Ingredients
Below are the building blocks of any healthy smoothie. These core ingredients of smoothie recipes don’t just look pretty or taste awesome, but offer significant health & fitness benefits. The most important step to making a healthy smoothie is using great ingredients. So no packaged smoothie mixes! Don’t compromise. Use fresh (or frozen), whole foods, which will make your smoothie healthy and nutritious, and also pack your smoothie full of flavor.
- Yogurt is packed with protein, calcium and tummy friendly probiotics. Go low-fat & Greek. Full fat yogurt is high in calories. Greek yogurt is high in protein & low in carbs. To up the protein content of any smoothie recipe, try adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt or silken tofu.
- Milk is another great source of protein, calcium & other nutrients. Skim milk is a low-calorie option and dairy-free milks such as soy, rice or nuts milks.
- Whey protein is an awesome means of boosting the protein content of a smoothie recipe & also make it more filling. It’s a no-brainer for low-calorie smoothies. And of course, ideal post-workout.
- Fat has got a bad rap. But there are healthy fats that the body needs. Also, fat helps you feel full. Zero-fat foods are not filling. Your body needs fat to absorb important nutrients.
Sources of healthy fats: fish oil, avocado, nuts, flaxseeds, peanut butter & more. Also, choose low-fat milk and yogurt, instead of the nonfat variety.
- Bananas. Rich in potassium, vitamin B6 and other nutrients, bananas are filling, add sweetness, the mild taste means they go with almost everything & it’s rich consistency binds the ingredients in smoothies together.
Don’t like bananas? Learn how to make a smoothie without bananas tasty and smooth!
- Berries are an antioxidant powerhouse, chock full of vitamin C and phytochemicals, conferring a plethora of health benefits. Naturally sweet & available fresh or frozen, they’re a great addition to any smoothie recipe.
- Liquid base. What’s a smoothie if not cold & smooth? Use plain ol’ H2O or freeze fruit juice, green juice, tea, coffee, yogurt or milk. Also, try freezing bananas for extra creaminess.
Tea is a healthy & tasty way to customize a smoothie. Green tea, Rooibos, peppermint, etc. confer different health benefits. Try fresh-brewed tea, tea ice cubes or tea powders.
Smoothie Recipe Tips
And remember when making your own smoothie from scratch – how to make a smoothie in 5 steps:
- Add liquid. Start by adding about 1 cup of liquid to the blender – this is your base. Go for low-fat milk, dairy-free milk, coconut water, plain water, or fruit juice.
- Add fruit or vegetables. Banana makes for an awesome base in almost any smoothie, as it has a mild taste and a creamy consistency. Same goes for avocado. Other fruits and veggies that work really well in smoothies are berries, papaya, mango, pineapple, peaches, and spinach.
- Thicken smoothie to get just the right texture, creaminess and thickness, and to balance the acidity from the fruit. This will also make your smoothie more filling and nutritious. Add nut butter, yogurt, chia seeds or oats for a smoother, tastier smoothie.
- Boost flavour. Sweeten your smoothie by adding some dates or a little honey, maple syrup or agave syrup. Add spices or herbs such as cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and mint to make your smoothie extra special.
- Add super foods. Healthy smoothie add-ins include spirulina, wheatgerm, flaxseed, protein powder, and goji berries.
How to Layer Smoothie Ingredients
To get a super smooth smoothie and avoid lumps of whole fruit or nuts, add the ingredients the “right” way. This will depend on the type of blender you own. If you have a regular blender, add the ingredients as shown above. Liquid first, then the other smoothie ingredients.
If you’re using very hard ingredients like nuts and veggies, add these to the liquid, blend for a minute and then add the fruit and other smoothie ingredients and blend again.
If you own a high-speed blender, place the tough ingredients such as whole nuts into the blender first, followed by greens and nut butters, and then protein powders, oats, spices. Liquid is the final ingredient.
Add Ice Last. Add all the smoothie ingredients in the blender, blend and then check the consistency of the smoothie. If you want it thicker add about a cup of crushed ice and blend again, or if it’s too thick some liquid to make it a little thinner. Repeat, until you’ve the smoothie has the desired consistency.
Fresh is Best. If possible, drink your smoothie as soon as you’ve made it. Its fresh, delicious and will taste perfect. If it sits for 20 minutes of more, it starts to separate and/or thicken. The flavors will also change and it will lose some of its nutritional value. Still, sometimes making ahead is the more practical option – you can store a fresh smoothie for up to a day in the fridge in a sealed glass container.
The smoothie recipe instructions follow the chart.
1. PRE-WORKOUT SMOOTHIE RECIPE
The idea of a pre-workout snack is to make sure you have enough energy and sufficient stamina to give your workout all you’ve got. If you’re hungry, you’ll lack energy and drive, which means you won’t be exercising as hard you could. Some people can get away with exercising on an empty stomach, but if you’re the kind of person who has to eat little and often to avoid feeling faint (or road rage), you’ll definitely do well to have a little something before your workout.
The ideal pre-workout snack should be easy to digest (to avoid an upset stomach during your workout) and rich in carbohydrates. Consume the smoothie at least 30 to 60 minutes before, depending on how much you’ve drunk/ how hungry you are and what’s in it. Remember, you only want to fuel up enough to bring your A-game. A pre-workout smoothie is not an excuse to down a days worth of calories from a smoothie bar. For maximum performance, keep it little and light, like this smoothie recipe.
- ½ cup frozen strawberries/ blueberries/ mixed berries
- ½ banana
- ½ cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup milk (skim/ almond/ soy) – enough to get your preferred consistency
- Ice cubes
2. POST-WORKOUT SMOOTHIE RECIPE
After a strenuous workout your main goal is to hydrate, replenish glycogen stores and jumpstart muscle recovery. A post-workout smoothie recipe should be made of carbohydrates and plenty of protein; it should also be relatively easy on the digestive system and quickly processed by the body.
Just like pre-workout, a post-workout smoothie is not an excuse to down a pint or two of smoothie drink – its purpose is purely functional. Be sure to drink up within 30 minutes to 2 hours after your workout. If you’ve been exercising at moderate to high intensity for longer than 60 minutes, try to re-fuel within 30 minutes.
- 1 dash of cinnamon (helps regulate and keep blood sugar levels steady)
- 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
- 1 medium banana (preferably frozen for extra creaminess)
- 1/3 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 cup ice
To boost nutritional content of this smoothie recipe try adding a handful spinach or kale.
3. MUSCLE BUILDER
Building muscle is not just about strength training, but ensuring you’re meeting your body’s nutritional needs and providing your body with sufficient protein. Research shows that consuming a protein shake post-workout can stimulate protein synthesis and muscle recovery, in other words aid muscle growth.
- 1 scoop chocolate whey protein
- 8 oz. low-fat chocolate milk
- 1 medium banana (frozen)
4. WEIGHT LOSS SMOOTHIE RECIPE
A good weight loss smoothie is packed with nutrients that is super filling, but low in calories, that you can have for breakfast or lunch. In other words, it’s not a snack (i.e. in addition to regular meals), but a meal replacement (instead of meals). To make a meal, a meal replacement smoothie needs to include carbohydrates, protein and a little fat. Fat is important because helps you feel full, as does protein. Check out how to make a weight loss smoothie for more tips.
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 scoop whey protein powder
- ½ medium banana
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- ¾ cup milk (skim/ almond/ soy)
- 3 to 5 ice cubes
This weight loss smoothie recipe uses mixed berries (carbohydrates), which provide energy and are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and are a natural sweetener. Chia seeds are incredibly rich in omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fat), protein antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Chia seeds also contain super high levels of soluble and insoluble fiber, making them uncannily filling and a great addition to low-calorie smoothies.
Filling healthy smoothie ingredients: chia seeds, ground psyllium husks, whey protein, low-fat Greek yogurt.
5. BELLY BUSTER
To make a belly-busting smoothie, add a source of MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) and to aid weight loss add low-fat yogurt. Research shows that MUFAs help target belly fat, and yogurt has been shown to aid weight loss and reduce bloating (read more about foods to lose belly fat).
- 1 Tbsp cold-pressed organic flaxseed oil (MUFA)
- 1 cup frozen unsweetened blueberries
- 3/4 cup milk (skim/ almond/ soy)
- 1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
Sources of MUFA to add to smoothies: flaxseed oil, avocado, nut butter (e.g. peanut butter, cashew butter), dark chocolate chips
6. LOW CARB SMOOTHIE RECIPE
Load up on high quality protein and go for a carbohydrate source packed with nutrients (i.e. fruit or vegetable). To sweeten use a sweetener such as Stevia or Splenda, like in this low carb smoothie recipe.
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 cup frozen, mixed berries
- 1 cup cold water
- ¼ cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1 packet Splenda sugar substitute
7. METABOLISM BOOSTER
This tasty, healthy smoothie is designed to be filling, nutritious and boost metabolism. The base of this smoothie is green tea, which boasts both caffeine and catechins, substances shown to speed up metabolism. This smoothie recipe is also rich in protein, which also has metabolism boosting effects.
- ½ tbsp honey
- 1 cup mango chunks
- ½ cup non-fat vanilla yogurt
- ½ cup brewed green tea, cooled to room temperature
- 1 cup ice (about 6 cubes)
8. PALEO POWER
This paleo friendly smoothie is filling and full of nutritional goodies. Herbal tea makes a great base as it is rich in anti-oxidants and depending on which herbal tea you choose will have specific health benefits (e.g. peppermint for digestive issues, etc).
- 1 scoop egg white protein powder
- 1 tbsp nut butter
- 1 cup frozen berries (mixed or otherwise)
- 1 cup brewed, chilled herbal tea
- ½ cup crushed ice
9. THE INVIGORATOR
This green smoothie recipe will energize and invigorate the senses.
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 tbsp honey (if needed)
- 1 handful of spinach (or other leafy greens)
- 1 apple
- 1 pear
- 1 ½ cups chilled ginger tea*
- Ice cubes
Bring about 2 cups of water to the boil. Grate or slice thinly about 1 inch of ginger root and add to boiling water. Cover saucepan and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain. Cool.
10. BREAKFAST IN ONE
Healthy smoothies are perfect for breakfast on the go. All the goodness of a healthy breakfast in one glass. Quick cook oats and nuts help to slow down the absorption of sugar from the fruit, keeping blood sugar levels steady, and giving you more energy for longer.
Yogurt and milk are rich in protein, which makes this smoothie filling. The fruit are a source of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and carbohydrates, making this smoothie recipe nutritious and energizing.
If you don’t like bananas check out how to make a smoothie without banana.
- ¼ cup quick cook oats (not instant)
- ¼ cup nuts (walnuts, almonds, or pecans)
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 cup frozen fruit (mango, blackcurrants, or strawberries)
- 2 ½ tbsp low-fat yogurt
- 1 cup of milk (skim/ soy/ almond)
11. KOFFEE KICK
Wake up with this delicious blend.
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 frozen banana
- ¾ cup frozen low-fat vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup chilled strong black coffee
12. HANGOVER HERO
This smoothie recipe is a meal in a glass and packed with nutrients to make up a little for last night’s indulgences. Banana provides energy, ginger will help settle the stomach and help with nausea (check out detox water recipes for some more help!). Yogurt helps to soothe the digestive tract. Pomegranate juice super nutritious and contains high levels antioxidants. If you don’t have pomegranate juice to hand, try cranberry or blueberry juice. Alternatively, add a cup of frozen mixed berries. Nut butter is rich in protein and healthy fats, which will help you feel full and provide lasting energy.
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 – 2 teaspoons almond butter
- 1 banana
- ½ cup low-fat yogurt
- ½ cup Pomegranate juice
- Ice cubes
13. SLEEP INDUCER
Is there anything worse than laying in bed trying to sleep, concentrating on trying to sleep, and so not getting to sleep at all? You can’t mentally force yourself to sleep, but you can physiologically. To that end, this smoothie recipe is made up of foods (banana, peanut butter, milk) that contain tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin and sleep-promoting melatonin. This smoothie is also rich in carbs and calcium, which intensify the effect of tryptophan. Cherries contain melatonin and bananas are a great source of potassium and magnesium, which are natural muscle relaxants.
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- ¼ cup pitted cherries
- ½ banana
- 1 cup milk (skim/ almond/ soy)
- Ice cubes
14. THE CHILLAXER
Sit back and chillax. Enough for two – or just one…
- 1 dash nutmeg
- 1 splash vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1⁄4 cup ground almonds
- 2 ripe bananas (preferably frozen for extra creaminess)
- ½ cup vanilla yogurt
- ¼ cup chilled chamomile tea (a calming tea)
- ¼ cup milk (skim/ almond/ soy)
- Ice cubes
15. STOMACH SOOTHER
This all-rounder smoothie recipe will address all manner of digestive woes. Papaya contains the enzyme papain, which has a soothing effect on the stomach and aids protein digestion. Ginger tackles nausea and fights flatulence. The probiotics in yogurt help increase friendly bacteria in your digestive tract, aiding digestion and reducing air. This smoothie is also rich in fiber. Fiber helps move food through the digestive tract, cleaning it out and removing toxins from the body.
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1 tsp sliced ginger
- 1 cup frozen sliced peaches
- 1 cup peeled, seeded, cubed papaya
- 1 medium pear, cubed, skin optional
- 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- 6 ice cubes
16. THE DETOXER
The Detoxer looks just like a regular fruit smoothie, pinky red and smooth. It is in fact loaded with the goodness of beetroot and carrot, which are detox favorites. Beetroot boasts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties and carrots are rich in anti-oxidants. Ginger is anti-inflammatory, while apples and pears are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. Spirulina is a super concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and protein. Also check out detox water recipes.
- 1 tsp spirulina (optional)
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 sweet apple
- 1 ripe pear
- 1 beet*
- 1 carrot*
*Steam carrot and beet until just about tender (approx 10-15 minutes). Cool.
17. SKIN SMOOTHER
Just as weight loss is a combination of diet and exercise, so is great skin a product of good skincare and nutrition. This skin-smoothing smoothie recipe is rich in anti-aging vitamin E, sun-damage-fighting healthy fats, collagen-boosting vitamin C, and wrinkle-reducing oleic acid from wheat germ, flaxseed, berries and avocado.
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup pitted cherries
- ½ cup strawberries
- ¼ avocado
- ½ cup low-fat yogurt
- Ice cubes
18. IMMUNE BOOSTER
Boost your immune system and beat the cold and flu season with this smoothie recipe loaded with beta-carotene and vitamin C from mango, cantaloupe, and pineapple, as well as almonds and almond milk, which are packed with zinc, an immune system booster.
- 1/3 cup ground almonds
- 1 cup chopped cantaloupe
- ½ cup cubed pineapple, fresh or canned
- 1 Banana
- 1 cup peeled, pitted, cubed mango
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- Ice cubes
Never make a bad smoothie again, with this infographic on how to make a smoothie.
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