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Healthy how-to: Build a better smoothie

Paoli Hospital July 21, 2014 General Wellness

Smoothies and juices are all the rage right now. An easy way to squeeze in an extra serving or two of fruits and veggies, they have become the go-to choice for a quick breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up. And although your smoothie full of fruits and veggies might seem healthy, you might want to think twice before what you add to the blender.

“Smoothies and blended drinks have the potential to be healthy, but they’re not that way by default,” says Judy Matusky, registered dietitian at Paoli Hospital. “You’ve got to make sure that the ingredients you’re including are actually nutritious and that add-ins like honey, peanut butter, and yogurt aren’t adding excess calories.”

Building a healthy smoothie

Next time you’re ready to whip up a smoothie, Matusky recommends combining the below ingredients for a healthy snack that will keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Pick one or two fruits

Remember, fruits aren’t calorie-free. Although they're a great source of fiber and rich in vitamins and antioxidants, fruits are also high in natural sugars, which will add sweetness to your smoothie but will also add calories, so don’t get carried away. Try one or two of these nutrient-packed fruits:

  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • Apple
  • Kiwi
  • Orange
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberry
  • Blackberry
  • Banana
  • Avocado

For a frozen treat, freeze fresh fruit or use frozen packaged fruit in your smoothie.

Pick your veggies

Don’t let fruit be the only star of your smoothie; adding even a cup of vegetables can add some serious nutritional power. If you’re a little wary of adding something green, start with a different color like ½ cup of shredded carrots.

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber

Pick one base

All smoothies should have a liquid or yogurt base. This will boost the amount of calcium and protein. Try to stay away from full-fat yogurt and milk and look for low-fat or non-dairy options instead.

  • Soy Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Skim Milk
  • Greek or regular plain yogurt

Add in some extras

Extra protein and healthy fat

Nuts and seeds can give your smoothie a boost and complement the sweet flavor of a fruit smoothie. But keep in mind, these additions will also bump up the calories.

  • Chia or sunflower seeds
  • Chopped nuts
  • Peanut butter, almond butter or other nut butter

Extra flavor

There’s nothing wrong with adding a little flavor to your smoothie. Add a teaspoon or tablespoon of sweet (or spicy) condiments to your smoothie to give it a little pizzazz.

  • Vanilla extract
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Cocoa powder

Need a little inspiration? Try our suggestions for low-calorie smoothie options.