Smoothies are great on so many levels. With the right combination of ingredients, they can be a meal replacement, a snack or even a healthy sweet treat when the craving hits. But with the wrong combination, you could possibly be consuming not only an excess of calories, but an excess of sugar. The good news is, the number of healthy options is endless. Just be wary of the fat and sugar traps, and keep in mind that store-bought is never as good as homemade. Mix and match from the categories listed, and you’ll be a smoothie-making pro before you know it!
Low-fat milk, plain yogurt, kefir and almond milk are all suitable protein choices. Nut butters are an excellent protein choice as well, but more than two tablespoons and they become calorie heavy. Before or after a workout, toss in a scoop of your favorite protein powder to fuel your body.
Really any fruit combo is going to give you a delicious, fresh smoothie, but fruit can be high in sugar, even though it’s the natural kind. Best choices are berries and citrus for their fiber contribution. Steer clear of tropical fruits, like bananas, mangos and pineapple.
Adding veggies to your smoothie is a great way to get a serving of greens. Sure, the color may be a little off-putting at first, but after one sip you’ll be converted. Kale, spinach and cucumbers are a big hit, as are avocados, which also add a smooth, creamy texture. But watch your portions with avocados, aiming for less than half.
Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are an easy way to add some flavor and a little dessert-like comfort to your smoothie. Chia and flaxseeds provide some crunch and are a good source of healthy fats. Coconut water can add a refreshing zest and help keep those cravings in check.
If your goal is healthy smoothies, try avoiding these ingredients: fruit drink, canned fruit, flavored yogurt, ice cream, sherbet, sorbet and artificial sweeteners.