Whether you love them as a nourishing breakfast option or a light, on-the-go snack, smoothies are a great way to pack a ton of nutrients and flavours into your day just by throwing a few ingredients into your blender and hitting a button.
But if you’re bored with your go-to smoothie recipe and you’re looking for new ways to shake up your favourite smoothie, there are a ton of nutritious and delicious options you likely never even thought of.
From new ways to get in your daily servings of veggies to spices that add a ton of flavour, these will provide plenty of inspiration for your next grocery run. An added bonus: You probably already have many of these in your kitchen, ready to be added to your blender ASAP.
Avocado provides tons of creaminess without added sugar.
If you already pack your smoothie with tons of fruit, consider adding everyone’s favourite Instagram-friendly fruit, avocado. Sure, it tastes (and looks) great on toast, but it’s also an unexpected but good smoothie option similar to a banana but without tons of sugar, and it’s all thanks to those heart-healthy fats.
Julie Harrington, the culinary nutrition consultant of RDelicious Kitchen, told The List, “The healthy fat paired with nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables, help fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) be better absorbed. Plus, it makes smoothies really creamy – almost like a milkshake consistency.”
Iced, brewed herbal tea can add nutrients.
You might think of herbal tea as its own beverage, but you can step up your smoothie’s flavour game by adding already brewed tea into it. You can pick the flavour of your choice, and be sure to brew it before storing in the fridge (you can use it hot as well if you prefer a warm smoothie) or by freezing it in ice cube trays and using them in lieu of or in addition to frozen fruit and plain ice.
Freshly brewed coffee or cold brew also works for a caffeine boost.
If you want an added dose of caffeine to start your day, you can also add the coffee of your choice to your smoothie.Cold brew makes a perfect add-in, as well as brewed hot coffee that has been stored in the fridge. For a good right-now option, add a teaspoon of regular (or decaf) instant coffee.
Try coconut, sesame, and/or olive oil.
Similar to avocado, plenty of popular oils like sesame, coconut, and olive oil are chock full of heart-healthy fats, which help stabilise blood sugar and keep you feeling full longer. Plus, they give an unexpected silkiness to a smoothie, and you only need to add a tablespoon or two for the nutritional benefits.
Swap yogurt for kefir for added digestive benefits.
If you already add yogurt to your smoothies, try swapping for kefir, a yogurt-like substance that comes in vegan and dairy options alike. Kefir is made from similar bacteria as yogurt while being a bit thinner and milkier, so it’s perfect for a smoothie.
Kefir has a tangy, sour flavour but little sweetness, and it’s a natural probiotic, which means it helps minimise “bad” bacteria that can build up in your gut, making it an excellent choice for your digestive health and overall immune system.
Soak seeds overnight for a huge nutrient boost.
Eating seeds like chia, flax, and sesame seeds on their own might not seem so appealing, but when soaked overnight and added to a morning smoothie, they pack a powerful nutritional punch.
Chia seeds are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and help you feel satiated for longer. Flax seeds have plenty of omega-3s as well as fibre and protein, and sesame seeds are rich in important minerals like copper, magnesium, and zinc. Just be sure that you’re working with a high-powered blender or pre-ground seeds before adding these in.
Spice up your smoothie with cinnamon, cardamom, or cayenne.
You already add spices to your meals for flavour, so why not your smoothie, too? Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and turmeric add a serious boost of flavour without added sugars or calories, giving tons of nutrients to your blended beverage. If your smoothie skews sweet, go for cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom, but if you’re opting for a mostly veggie-based smoothie, try turmeric or cayenne pepper for a bit of a kick.
“As a rule of thumb, the spice you choose should complement the other flavours in your drink, and you definitely want to use a light hand,” according to Chefworks. “Cinnamon works well with apples, and cayenne can work nicely with mangos or even chocolate. Use your imagination; if you like the combos in a cooked dish, you’ll probably like it in a smoothie as well.”
Think outside the box when it comes to veggies.
Speaking of vegetables, if you’re bored with adding dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, there are plenty of unexpected – but equally delicious – veggie options you can throw in.
From frozen cauliflower, which gives a creamy consistency with a mild enough flavour (and lots of antioxidants, B-vitamins, potassium, and fibre) to cucumber, which provides vitamins C, B5, and K, the produce section likely holds plenty of choices you never even considered in a smoothie.
Other great picks include celery, cabbage, bell peppers, and zucchini, which can be added in cooked or raw, depending on what you prefer. Tons of vitamins and added water content make them a healthy smoothie addition.
Don’t forget about steamed, boiled, or roasted beets and sweet potatoes.
Beets get a bad rep in the veggie world, but they’re actually a perfect option when blended into a smoothie. Both beets and sweet potatoes will give your smoothie a vibrant red hue, but that’s not all: beets provide antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory, which can help with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and even dementia.
Sweet potato is the secret ingredient your smoothies are missing, because they’re loaded in important nutrients like vitamins A and C, fibre, potassium, and iron, and you can add them grated raw or steamed, boiled, or roasted for the right amount of natural sweetness. The opportunities are endless.
Pumpkin makes a perfect add-in all year long.
In recent years, we’ve seen the meteoric rise in popularity of pumpkin spiceeverything, but you shouldn’t forget about pumpkin as soon as the last autumn leaves fall, because it’s a killer source of vitamins A and C, potassium and fibre.
Its creamy consistency and mild flavour (plus that gorgeous orange hue) make canned pumpkin a perfect smoothie mixer long after those pumpkin spice lattes disappear from your Instagram feed.
Add citrus peels and skins to your high-powered blender or food processor.
If you already add citrus fruits like lemon and lime or other fruits like apples to your smoothie, you might have never thought of adding the peel, rind, or skin in, too. But if you’re working with a high-powered blender or food processor, you might want to think twice before tossing them in the trash.
Dietitian Michelle Loy of Go Wellness told TheList that the peels add “a burst of flavour to the smoothie,” adding, “they’re chock-full of fibre and vitamin C. Plus, the peel packs in potent phytochemicals like flavonoids, carotenoids, and limonene.”
Just be sure to thoroughly wash them beforehand, and if your blender can’t support them, add a bit of the zest instead.
Cooked chickpeas or lentils and beans add loads of protein.
You might not think of adding legumes like lentils or chickpeas or navy beans to your smoothie, but you should. They are a perfect source of protein and fibre for all your meals, and when added to a smoothie, give a nice boost of flavour and texture. Just be sure to cook them beforehand – uncooked legumes or beans could damage your blender, according to Chefworks.
Pasteurised egg whites are an unexpected way to add protein.
If you want more muscle-building protein but don’t like the chalky taste of many protein powders out there, try pasteurised egg whites, says dietitian Mandy Enright, who told The List, “The egg whites not only create a great creamy, frothy texture but also add a boost of protein … Make sure to use pasteurised egg whites to keep your smoothie safe.”
Don’t add raw, unpasteurized egg whites, which can up your risk of foodborne illness if consumed uncooked.
Try cottage cheese in lieu of Greek yogurt.
Greek yogurt has long been a favourite base among smoothie lovers because of its rich, creamy texture and high protein content. But if you’re looking for something new that is equally tangy, opt for a scoop of cottage cheese.
“Sure, you can reach for the protein powder, but that’s often expensive and can give your drink a gritty taste,” Melinda Johnson, MS, RDN wrote in US News. “Cottage cheese contains 15 grams of protein in half a cup, and it adds a creamy texture that you can’t get from plain yogurt, milk, or soy milk.”
And cottage cheese isn’t the only cheese to try.
Dietitian Lindsey Janeiro loves adding ricotta cheese to her smoothies, telling The List that “just like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, ricotta cheese packs a punch of protein (14 grams in a half cup) but with a [milder] taste.” Opt for low-fat or full-fat instead of fat-free cheeses so you’ll stay satisfied longer.
Add a dose of whole grains like quinoa, cooked oats, and millet.
By now you know the nutritional benefits of whole grains are plentiful, but if you’ve never added them to your blended beverage, you’re missing out.
Adding a scoop or two of whole grains like quinoa, oats, and millet add fibre, complex carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals like iron, selenium, and magnesium to the mix, helping you to feel fuller longer – crucial for those hectic, busy days. Just be sure you’re adding cooked grains or soak overnight before adding them in.
“Leftover cooked grains bulk up a smoothie with extra protein and fibre,” according to the Whole Foods blog. “Try a generous spoonful of brown rice, quinoa or oats. The neutral flavours pair with most combos and give your mixture oomph.
Matcha tea powder is the mix-in you shouldn’t skip.
Aside from the heart-healthy antioxidants in most herbal teas, you might want to step it up by adding matcha tea powder with your morning smoothie.
Dietitian Christy Brissette, president of 80 Twenty Nutrition loves it, telling The List that aside from being vegan-friendly, matcha has “ten times the antioxidants of other green tea,” which are great for heart health and are even known to help with cancer prevention.
Blend nuts instead of nut butter to nix added sugars and preservatives.
Nut butters, like peanut, cashew, and almond butter, get a bad rep because plenty of grocery store options contain hidden added sugars and hydrogenated oils. You’re better off choosing natural peanut butter or other nut butters, which will only contain one ingredient on the nutritional label.
Even better? Blend up whole nuts, like cashews, walnuts, and peanuts, which provide plenty of protein, unsaturated fat, fibre, and vitamins, without added sugar, fats, and oils. You can soak them for a few minutes before blending to help soften them, too. Or just toss a few on top of your smoothie for a surprising crunch and texture.
Dried fruits add just enough sweetness.
Sometimes we all need a bit of sugar to get us through a long day, and dried fruit makes a great healthy option. According to ChefWorks, adding dried fruit like dates, raisins, and cherries give antioxidants and flavour to your smoothie.
Just as with nuts and grains, you can soak them for a few minutes prior to blending, and be sure to pick ones with no added sugar, as they will be sweet enough that you won’t need to put in honey or the sweetener of your choice.
Top your smoothie with your favourite cereal for added crunch.
Scoop a handful of your favourite cereal on top of your smoothie for a hit of added crunch and sweetness, depending on the flavour profile you’re working with. It will pair well with the creaminess and makes for the perfect finishing touch.
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