Smoothies 101

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Written by: Nicole Nuccio, Dietetic Intern

With the hot weather and the busyness of summer approaching, it can be difficult to find a quick, refreshing way to fuel our bodies with nutrients. Drinking smoothies can be a great way to cool off on these hot summer days while keeping our bodies nourished. Smoothies can be a convenient and nutritious option for a tasty breakfast, snack or even a dessert.

When creating a smoothie, focus on adding healthy ingredients like vegetables, fruits, protein, and dairy. Use MyPlate, the USDA’s nutrition guideline as a guide for serving sizes. Although adding supplements may be a tempting way to quickly boost nutrients, they are not the same as whole foods such as fruits and vegetables. Whole foods are complex and contain various antioxidants and phytochemicals that in supplement form do not always demonstrate the same health benefits. Here are some quick simple tips to create a nutritious and delicious smoothie:

  • 1-2 cups vegetable greens (e.g., spinach or kale).
  • 1-2 cups of fresh or frozen fruit (e.g., banana, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or mango).
  • 2 tablespoons-1/4 cup of protein (e.g., plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nut butter, or nuts).
  • 8-16 fl. oz of liquid (e.g., water, milk, soy milk, almond milk, tea, or 100% juice).
  • Want more flavor? Try adding 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder, cinnamon, turmeric, or ginger.

Spinach and kale may turn your smoothie green, but once they’re mixed with fruit, you’ll hardly be able to taste them. When making a smoothie you can add a variety of fruit to help naturally sweeten it without increasing the added sugar. When picking fruits for your smoothie you can use fresh or frozen fruit. If you choose frozen fruit you will be able to skip the ice. If you choose fresh fruit make sure to add in a few ice cubes to get a frozen consistency.

When making a smoothie at home, you have control over what ingredients you use. It is important to be aware that not all smoothies are nutritious. For example, fresh fruit may not be used and additional sweeteners may be added. Therefore, it is recommended to make your smoothie at home so you can make it exactly what you want, you know exactly what the ingredients are and can feel good about your nutritious treat! Have fun and cool off by experimenting with various flavors of smoothies this summer!

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension of Lee County’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on food safety, wellness, and nutrition please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Alyssa Anderson, MS, RDN, LDN, at 919-775-5624.