How to make quick and easy smoothies
My last post about the best greens for smoothies brought up a lot of questions from readers about how to make quick and easy smoothies! Which parts of the kale are used? What about the strawberry stems? Should the spinach be organic?
It’s hard to imagine that blending organic fruits and vegetables could be so easy, delicious, and satisfying.
The thing to remember is that blending smoothies is not an exact science. The ingredients change, the flavors are delicately balanced and the amounts of liquid vary.
We always try (most of the time) to consume plant-strong power foods, but if your schedule is anything like mine, those vending machines and junk food aisles at the grocer can get very tempting.
What’s the answer? Blend up a quick and easy smoothie! They can be nutritious enough to qualify as a meal replacement. Here’s how:
Pick your greens
A healthy smoothie contains a balanced mix of protein, fiber, and vitamins. To start, you’ll need a couple of handfuls of greens. Preferably dark green. And organic.
If you’ve been at this awhile, you probably have your favorites, but if you’re a smoothie newbie, my suggestion would be to go with some of the milder greens, like organic baby spinach or organic collard greens.
Those 2 lovelies provide ample amounts of vitamins and nutrients, and will blend up mostly without much of that “green” taste with the other ingredients.
Once you get used to the flavor, you can substitute kale or beet greens, a bit darker and heartier on the palate.
Wash the veggies and cut off the stems. Spinach usually comes in a bunch and so you can just cut off the stems, or you can buy it already triple-washed in the bag, without the stems.
Whatever works is fine. The collard greens are usually in a big bunch as well. Just cut off the stems and separate the leaves from the stems by cutting or pulling the leaf off the stem.
Honestly, the stems on collard greens are pretty mild and will probably blend pretty well, depending on the strength of your blender.
Now, pick your fruits
Low sugar fruits are best because they won’t spike your blood sugar. I recently wrote a post about sugar, which explains this in more detail, but for smoothies, it’s best to select 2 servings of fruit with low sugar, or a low glycemic index. My favorites for smoothies: strawberries, blackberries, and wild blueberries.
I urge you to buy organic fruits, especially the strawberries and wild blueberries, as they are on the Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables with the most amount of pesticides and herbicides. Read more about that here.
Back to the fruit — a serving is usually considered about a half cup, or a handful. Frozen is best, as they make the smoothie creamier.
Bananas aren’t usually classified as “low sugar” but they are great for smoothies, especially frozen, and give the smoothie a rich and creamy base, loaded with magnesium and potassium!
If you want to freeze them, wait until they start to turn brown, then slice them up without the skin, and place each grouping of banana slices into baggies, so that they are ready to just drop into the blender. You may have to break them apart so they don’t go into the blender in one lumpy lump!
You’ll need protein powder
I can’t live without protein powder. It is one of the easiest and quickest ways to add healthy protein to your smoothie, and I recommend starting with a plant-based protein, like pea or hemp, either unflavored or vanilla. Pea protein is very easy to digest, and blends very well into most smoothies. Plus, most plant-strong protein powders are very low in fat and calories.
Vega One is my favorite, hands down. It is an organic powerhouse of 20 grams of plant-based protein, 4 grams of fiber, 500 mgs of Omega 3, and probiotics. It is available in this large container, or as individual packets in lots of flavors.
Here is the nutritional breakdown:
You can see that this protein powder packs a punch, and each serving is gluten-free vegan certified, no added sugar, no artificial colors or preservatives.
One last thing: Vega One comes in Plain Unsweetened, which is a great neutral base. I recommend French Vanilla, Berry or any of the other flavors. They all work well with fresh greens and fruit.
An alternative to protein powder is a tablespoon of almond butter, or a half cup of Greek yogurt, unflavored or vanilla, or 2 tablespoons of ground flax or hemp seed. These options aren’t as low in fat and calories as Vega One, but they are very filling.
What about water?
I always use water in my smoothies. I like the fact that I’m not adding additional calories or sugar to the smoothie, and water doesn’t change the taste of all the ingredients I carefully selected!
If you’re new to the smoothie game, you can opt for something with a bit more sweetness, like coconut water, almond milk, oat milk or a couple of ounces of fruit juice (watch the sugar content) mixed with equal amounts of water.
Speaking of water, you’ll have to adjust the amounts, depending on the size of your blender and amounts of the other items.
As a general rule, I keep the liquid to about 8 ounces, which seems to be a nice balance. If you like your smoothie thinner or thicker, adjust accordingly.
Put it all together
Now that you have all the ingredients ready to go, you’ll want to blend them all into a scrumptious smoothie. Take a look at the infographic below which explains the step-by-step process of blending into smoothie perfection!