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How to Build a Healthy Smoothie

One of my favorite parts of going through Precision Nutrition’s coaching program has been the inclusion of their recipe builders, chief among them what they call the Super Shake infographic. Essentially, what this is, is a guideline to how to build a nutrition, delicious smoothie. A healthy smoothie is a great option for any meal or snack, especially if you’re crunched on time or don’t have the ability to sit and have your meal at a table.

You may be asking, “why would I make a smoothie at home when I can go to any number of fast food restaurants and pick up a smoothie from them? Or I can be even healthier and just go to a juice bar!” Well, you’re right. You can go to a juice bar or go to a fast food restaurant and get a smoothie. The problem with both is the amount of sugar without redeeming qualities you’re going to find in your food. Do you think McDonald’s cares more about your health, or more about making it taste like dessert so you’ll come back for more? Juice, while full of vitamins and minerals, misses the all-important nutrient fiber. It’s essentially a glass of sugar – maybe good for a post workout refresher – not so good for your overall health.

Plus, this will save you a lot of money, too, as buying the fresh ingredients from the grocery store will always be more affordable than running out to a restaurant every time you’d like a smoothie. Simply follow the steps below, and you’ll be a healthy smoothie making master in no time.

Healthy Smoothie Steps:

1. Pick a Liquid

The liquid you start with not only impacts the taste, but also the texture of your smoothie. For thinner smoothies, use 8 ounces of liquid. For thicker shakes (my preference) use 4 ounces of liquid. You can obviously use anything between those two numbers, as well. Find what works for your texture preference.

Options for liquids:

  • Cow milk
  • Protein fortified milk (such as Fairlife)
  • Almond / Cashew / Nut milk
  • Banana milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Soy milk
  • Water

2. Pick a Protein Source

The most common selection for protein source in a healthy smoothie is protein powder. However, you can also use dairy and even egg whites as a protein source in your smoothie. Remember, dairy and egg whites also increase the amount of liquid in your smoothie.

Options for protein:

  • Whey protein powder
  • Pea protein powder (or other vegan option)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Pasteurized egg whites or whole eggs
  • Protein fortified milk (such as Fairlife)

3. Pick a Vegetable (or two!)

Smoothies are a sneaky way to hide vegetable servings, as well. While many vegetables are delicious, there’s no denying plain, dry spinach isn’t the most exciting option in the world. Toss a handful in your smoothie and you’ll reap all the benefits without even noticing it is there.

Options for vegetables:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Cucumber
  • Roasted beets

4. Pick a Fruit

Fruits provide additional fiber, a host of vitamins and minerals, as well as a welcome sweetness next to the vegetables. Almost any fruit works in a smoothie; however, the more fibrous fruits like apples tend to need a stronger blender to really integrate well.

Fruit options:

  • Banana (use a frozen banana for an ice-cream-like texture)
  • Apples
  • Frozen berries
  • Dates
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Peaches

5. Pick a Healthy Fat

Finally, round out your healthy smoothie with a serving of healthy fats. Nut butters do great here, but using whole nuts provides a nice texture, as well. For a thicker shake, I really like using whole nuts, as it almost makes the entire smoothie taste like your favorite nut butter.

Healthy fat options:

  • Almonds / Peanuts / Mixed Nuts
  • Almond / Peanut / Cashew butter
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Avocado

Healthy Smoothie Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana

Making this healthy smoothie could not be any easier. Simply grab your blender, and add the following ingredients:

  • 6 ounces of your favorite milk (I prefer Fairlife for this recipe)
  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 medium, frozen banana
  • 2 T all natural peanut butter
  • 1 small handful of ice

Blend on high until everything is combined. After you think everything is well mixed, allow the blender to run for at least 60 seconds additionally. This allows the smoothie to get the best texture possible.

Pour into a big glass and enjoy!

 

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