If you've been drinking smoothies for a long time at your local juice bar, but have no idea how to make them at home, that's about to change. Unlike green juices, smoothies can be made very quickly and are mess-free. They are also cheaper, more filling and usually sweeter, hence much more appealing to a wider, and younger, audience.
Step 1: Pick a base When making smoothies, you need a liquid base that will make the blending process easier and give your smoothie a drinkable texture. Good bases for smoothies include all kinds of non-dairy milk, such as almond, cashew, rice or hemp. Coconut milk or water are two other great options that will add creaminess and that luscious coconut taste that will make your smoothie resemble a piña colada. Other good choices: OJ, apple juice, any other fruit juice, apple cider or even green tea.
Step 2: Choose your fruit You can use most fruits in your smoothies, just make sure they are ripe enough (hence sweet enough) or the result may lack flavor. Tropical fruits such as mangoes, pineapple and watermelon are popular choices, as are berries and bananas. The kind of fruits you use and the way in which you combine them is really up to you, and what you have available. I recommend you use mostly seasonal fruits which will not only make your smoothie tastier, but also cheaper and healthier. Some people like to use frozen fruits to give their drinks a thicker texture, but I recommend you only do this on very hot summer days, and never right before or after a meal, as cold drinks compromise digestion.
Step 3: Find the right sweetener If you use sweet fruits to make your smoothie, such as a ripe banana or mango, you may not need to use any added sweetener at all. This may also be the case for those of you who don't have a sweet tooth. Most people, however, are used to more intense flavors, and will need added sweetness to make their smoothies enjoyable. If this is you, you should still be mindful of the amount of sweeteners you use, as fruits already have a high sugar content, and you don't want to spike your blood sugar levels through the roof. Always go for bananas or dates first (they will also add creaminess to your smoothie), and if you need more, use natural sweeteners in small amounts such as local raw honey, or grade B maple syrup. Stevia is also one of the best sweetening options, as it doesn't raise your blood sugar levels.
Step 4: Don't be shy with the superfoods If you're making smoothies at home to improve your family's health, you might as well take it all the way and use as many superfoods as you can. Superfoods are recognized as such because they contain massive amounts of certain nutrients that aren't usually found in such high doses in any other food. Chlorella, for example, has forty times more chlorophyll than the already powerful wheatgrass juice. Spirulina is another chlorophyll-rich powder you can use. If you want energy, add maca powder. Want to relax? Then give your smoothie a chocolate taste by adding cacao powder or cacao nibs. To get your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, use ground or whole flaxseed or chia. If you want to prevent or improve a cold, boost your immune system by adding pollen or camu powder to your drink. The list of options is huge!
Step 5: Give your smoothie a personality If you're looking for energy (this would be the case if you work out a lot, or if all you have for breakfast is a smoothie and you need it to sustain you throughout the morning, for example), then you may consider adding more filling and energizing ingredients to your basic smoothie. Peanut butter, almond butter, oatmeal, cooked quinoa or pumpkin seeds are a few options you may want to experiment with. If you want a detoxifying drink that will cleanse you from the inside out and will leave you feeling light and nourished, consider adding a few green vegetables to your basic smoothie, such as spinach, kale or lettuce.
Step 6: Bring out your playful side One of the coolest things about smoothies is that a typically thick texture (although you can make them as thick or as watery as you want) allows you to put all kinds of decorative ingredients on top of it, making them super attractive and fun to drink. Berries, chopped fruit, nuts, seeds, grated coconut and goji berries are a few examples of what you can use to get your smoothie art on.