Photo by: dailyfood


Being the mother of four small children can be challenging when it comes to preparing healthy food that they will enjoy. That’s why I’m thrilled when I find something healthy that the entire family loves that I can easily make myself. Enter smoothies.

Smoothies are a huge hit in our household. They are extremely flexible, allowing you to throw in a number of different ingredients. And they are a great way to incorporate more nutrients into your meals.

Smoothies don’t take long to prepare and the only piece of equipment you need is a good blender. After you take care of that, the combinations are limitless and can include the following:

Smoothie staples: the usual suspects

JuiceOrange juice is the main staple in our house, though smoothies taste great with any number of juices. Apple, pomegranate, carrot, pineapple or juice blends can all be used with great success.

Creaminess – It’s nice to add something creamy that will complement your other ingredients. I only put a small amount of juice in smoothies to avoid a bunch of empty calories. That makes something creamy essential so that there’s enough liquid.
In my house, that used to be vanilla yogurt or strawberry kefir, but then I discovered that my body doesn’t like dairy very much. Smoothies are great in that regard because you can easily substitute one component with something else, like almond, coconut or another non-dairy milk.


Fruit – Most people like to throw some fresh fruit into their smoothies. Bananas are really popular in our house as I buy them ripe at a huge discount. Use ripe fruit that’s in season to add a delicious, inexpensive burst of flavor.

Berries – This is where I differ from a lot of people I know. I really don’t like adding ice to my smoothies. Probably because I’ve had one-too-many smoothies that weren’t blended all the way. You too? Don’t worry – you don’t have to use ice. You can use frozen berries instead.
They are usually small enough that they blend easily and add some delicious flavor to your drink. Berries are a must in our smoothies because they change the color from a green my kids won’t touch to a delicious purple that they can’t get enough of.

Sweetener – This is totally optional and I have only done it once or twice. If you’re using fruit that isn’t very sweet or you just like a sweet smoothie, you can always add in a little bit of honey or maple syrup to get the taste where you like it. (Find natural unrefined sweeteners here.)

Smoothie extras: not-so-common ingredients

Smoothies are a great way to increase the nutrients in your diet. I love that they mask flavors that my children would normally not like. That’s why I use smoothies to get more veggies into our diet. Yes, veggies.

Leafy greens – Spinach, kale, lettuce. All of these can be added into your smoothie to boost the vitamins and minerals available. If there are any picky eaters in your household (yourself included) start off with a small amount and throw in some berries. This masks the flavor and color of the greens. Usually trying it once is enough to convert the most skeptical eaters.

Other veggies – Greens aren’t the only veggie you can to a smoothie. Carrots are wonderful for their nutrients and sweetness. Broccoli and cucumber also blend well into a smoothie.

Protein powder – This is common for those who want to add a boost of protein to their smoothie. Protein takes longer to burn than carbs, helping you to sustain your energy level longer. There are different powders available – like whey and hemp. Just be sure to add a small amount. Too much can cause a strange, chalky aftertaste.

Nut butters – These are another excellent source of protein and more and more people are telling me about their smoothie recipes that call for peanut or almond butter. I haven’t experimented with these much but have heard they go well with vanilla yogurt and bananas.

Now, how about a recipe to give you an idea of the quantities to use? This is the recipe I use most frequently for breakfast smoothies. I use the markings on my blender to measure and have a six-cup blender.

Adjust the recipe if yours is smaller. Otherwise it will explode onto your counter. Don’t ask me how I know…

Fruit Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 carrots, rinsed and diced. Leave the tops on.
  • 2 bananas, peeled and diced
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 1 handful frozen strawberries
  • 1 handful mixed berries

Put the orange juice, almond milk, carrots, bananas and spinach in the blender and blend them well. This makes more room for the berries and is easier on your blender. Add the berries and blend well. Serve and enjoy.

What are your favorite smoothie ingredients and recipes?


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Comments

  1. says

    That sounds like quite the beefy smoothie. Usually when I make mine in the morning for breakfast, I use some milk, frozen berries, some protein powder, honey, and sometimes some bananas.
    THey turn out great and they are easy to make. Always fresh because I only make enough for 1 morning.

    • says

      It’s definitely filling. And they’re definitely best when made fresh. On the rare days when my kids don’t drink any, I’ll put the rest in the fridge in a mason jar. It still tastes good but not as good as when I first made it.

      I’ve never tried it with straight milk before. What kinds of berries do you usually use?

  2. says

    Betsy and I make ours with Kale, berries (whatever’s on hand,) peanut butter, and oatmeal. They’re raw and are very substantial, filling, and healthy.

    • Shari says

      Do you use a recipe, or just throw stuff in your smoothie? I am trying to go more raw, and convince my children to step outside their food “box.” This would be great, I’m just unfamiliar with using those ingredients. Educate me, please. :)

      • says

        Well, first I strongly recommend getting a Vitamix. Betsy and I have tried a bunch of different cheaper blenders until we finally sprung for one and have never looked back, we love it! Then – for enough smoothie for 2 people – mix 4 stalks of kale with 1 1/2 cup frozen berries (if not frozen just put in a few ice cubes,) 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 Tbsp flax seeds, 1 banana, 1/4 cup whole rolled oats, and 3/4 cup water. Blend and enjoy!

        • Shari says

          I’ll admit it. I was skeptical about how this was going to taste. As much as I want to like kale, I just don’t. I always pick it out of my salads. I bit the bullet and tried it in the smoothie recipe you posted, and whoa. That is a great smoothie!! Can’t taste the kale AT ALL. I am pumped!! Onward and upward on my raw journey!! Thanks for a great beginning step!! :)

      • says

        This morning we had a bunch of random stuff from a Hawaiian party last night so we threw it all in – some fresh strawberries, grilled pineapple, banana, orange juice, flax seed, and some fresh blackberries. We basically use whatever we have and just keep making up new stuff, and the only thing we’ve found that we stay away from using is swiss chard, it makes our smoothies taste like dirt. :)

        • Liz says

          I have to 2nd the chard making green smoothies taste like dirt! They looked so fresh and colorful so I grabbed a bunch on a shopping trip last night – but no go… Maybe I should have left the stalks out? A whole apple, banana, some frozen wild blueberries and coconut water are barely mitigating the pungent earth notes as I try to get this baby down.

  3. Maria says

    Veggies in a smoothie? I really have to try this! My one son who is almost 12 won’t eat meat or much veggies. This could be a real life saver, and I really mean that! He has a hard time swallowing certain things like meat and many veggies. Thank you for such a great idea.

    • says

      We’re happy to help Maria. Let us know how it works out. Don’t forget to try carrots, they add a lot of sweetness. Other good veggies to try are kale, spinach, or any green leafy veggie. You can also try using pumpkin, celery, and any number of other veggies. Don’t use all these veggies together but hide them in there… you always want to sweeten it up w/some fruit. If you mess up just throw in an extra banana, peanut butter, maple syrup, or more of any other sweet fruit or fruit juice.

  4. says

    Let me just add that when making smoothies you just have to be creative. Don’t be afraid to test, try, test again, and try again until you come up with recipes you like, then write them down.

  5. janice says

    My husband and I are retired, so trying to live healthy and have a little time to do so. We have smoothies at least once a week for breakfast and found our grandchildren love them too. They think it is a treat, like ice cream in the morning!

    We always start with bananna and ice. Then another fruit or two and yogurt. I often toss in a tablespoon or two of hemp powder, but usually forget. I like the idea of greens and will try that next time.

    Janice

  6. says

    I absolutely love smoothies – and they are a strong staple at our house as well… we always have one for breakfast, and then they can fill in for another meal replacement if I get too busy later in the day becausethere are endless options of making them taste different each time. One of our favorites is a plain green smoothie with just a couple bananas, 2 handfuls of baby spinach, and enough water to blend it. Even my toddler used to drink it for breakfast!
    I also love freezing bananas and throwing them into a smoothie you want to be extra creamy – you do need a good blender (like the Vitamix) for that though.

  7. says

    I just found your site last night & subbed right away! It’s awesome! :)

    I love my vitamix & always add flax seeds & chia seeds to my smoothies as well. They add healthy fats & lots of vitamins, minerals, etc… to your smoothies as well! :)

  8. Doddie says

    I use milk, banana, oatmeal, sunflower, or pumkin seeds (you have to powder them first) flaxseed, raisins. Whatever I have. I will use vanilla yogurt in place of milk sometimes but the plain would be better.

    I sometimes juice 2 apples, some carrots and celery stalks. This is one of my morning favorites !

  9. says

    Have used frozen fruits in our smoothies for a while now, even better now you can buy frozen fruit in the supermarket. The only problem we have is to much frozen fruit in the morning can cause the dreaded “ice cream” head, so I usually get the fruit out the freezer the night before. We also add some pro-biotic yoghurt in as well.

    • says

      Smoothies are such a great way to get pro-biotics and other goodies into your diet. I just started adding chia seeds to mine. I put in my juice and the chia seed and let them absorb the liquid. Then I added everything else and blended it up. I like getting the benefits of the chia without the texture, which I’m not a fan of.

  10. says

    I have 3 of my own kids plus my niece living with me, who are all very active and athletic. We use smoothies regularly to add nutrition to our diets. I use a base of unsweetened almond milk, a handful of whatever berries I have in the fridge/freezer, a banana, and a big handful of baby spinach leaves and ripped kale leaves. Blend and waa-laa!! I don’t buy orange juice as it’s too much unnecessary sugar and also I believe as the pasturization process kills most of the nutrition anway. I’d rather just have the orange!! :) My youngest son is 6 and has been off the nebulizer for over a year now (which he’s been on since he was 2) since I’ve been serving the green smoothies, as greens work tremendously well on healing our respiratory system. I’m a Health Coach and am so thankful to have found your site. I love the idea of empowering my clients as well as my own family and friends to not only improve their diets and lifestyles, but to go a step further and create their own healthy and inexpensive. Thanks very much!! :)

  11. BlogShag says

    I know that many say that a blender is all you need for making juice recipes, but a quality juice extractor is a good thing to have (The ones that cost around $200 or more). Yes, I know, they’re expensive, but the expensive ones last a long time before they need replacement. Don’t waste your money on the cheap ones. When it comes to juice extractors, you get what you pay for.

    Juice extractors allow for more flexibility when it comes to textures that you may or may not want in your smoothie. For instance, you may not want all the fiber that’s contained in carrots, just some of it. Juice extractors allow a person to control this.’

    Juice extractors also make the nicest shreddings of vegetable items for soups.

    I’ve been juicing for years, and I’m thoroughly convinced, it’s why I rarely get colds and have stayed out of the hospital.

  12. SannyPan says

    We’re big on frozen fruit, which makes the smoothy cold and creamy. My freezer looks like the options at a frozen yogurt store – containers of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, honeydew, pineapple, etc. Can’t eat a whole fresh pineapple? Chop it and freeze it. Getting lots of overripe bananas on sale? (as was previously mentioned) Slice them on a cookie sheet, freeze, then scrape into a container. Even things like leftover canned fruits can be frozen for later use. With 2 teenagers who rarely have time in the morning to make a proper breakfast before school, smoothies are our family’s staple.

  13. says

    One of the great benefits of natural food smoothies is that it is a great way to eat raw fruits and vegetables. When you can’t quite stomach those raw ingredients whole, add them to a flavorful smoothie and down go all those whole food nutrients. :)

    • BlogShag says

      If only more people knew that they can’t even taste the vegetables, when they do what you suggest. It took me a long time to discover this too. But I guess that’s what life is about -constant learning

  14. BlogShag says

    I have to add my two cents here. They suggest adding maple syrup or honey– Nope.

    For a healthy alternative, have a juice extractor handy and juice an apple or two, add some of the pulp to your liking for thickening and fiber if you want. Fresh squeezed apple juice with bits of the skin and bits of pulp is a much healthier alternative than syrup for sweetening, so are the frozen berries as suggested. But the apple juice will give a neutral sweetening effect, whereas berries are yummy but also distinctively tart.

    Also, if you must use honey or maple syrup, they didn’t mention another alternative — raw agave nectar, which I find is much easier to use than honey, which can become sticky and crystallized in storage. Raw agave nectar is much more flavorful in my opinion.

  15. kim says

    Don’t forget about wonderful avocados. They are a nice replacement as a thickener. Use in place of bananas, yogurt or anything else that thickens.Great nutrients. Yum!

  16. LB says

    Need a fantastic blender? We purchased BlendTec blender and it is fantastic! You can get it at Bed Bath and Beyond and use your coupons! You don’t have to buy a Vitamix! A BlendTec is about $200 less expensive. You can check out You Tube for some comparison videos. BlendTec is the square shaped blender you see used professionally at smoothie shops.

  17. Vera says

    Hi nina! I hate the taste of plain carrot juice so i dont think the recepie including carrots will fit me very well . Do you think i can just skip the carrots or do you think I should replace them? If so what should I replace them with?btw; Thank you for the tips on a great breakfast!