If you want make the best smoothie of all time, take these easy tips and tricks to heart.
Too sweet, too watery, not flavorful enough, too chalky…there are a ton of reasons why your smoothie isn’t living up to your expectations. The good news is, with a few simple tricks, you can make any smoothie taste better.
Whipping up a great smoothie is equal parts art and science. Coming up with interesting flavor combinations is where the creativity comes in, and making sure you don’t overdo it with any one ingredient requires some careful calculation.
If your smoothies are leaving you disappointed, try the following advice:
Don’t Rely on Fruit for Flavor
If you’re piling five types of fruit into your smoothie — stop, put down the banana, and walk away from the blender. Too much fruit can create a confusing flavor profile and lead to a smoothie with way too much sugar.
As a general rule, pick one or two different fruits — such as banana and strawberry, or mango and pineapple — and no more. Then, rely on low-sugar ingredients to pack in extra flavor. One great option is to incorporate any fresh herbs you may have laying around. This means any extra basil, mint, cilantro, and parsley can go right into the blender.
Two other options are ground herbs and flavor extracts. For example, this Less Fruit, Not Gross Smoothie recipe from cookbook author Serena Wolf features ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and vanilla extract for a ton of flavor, without the extra sugar.
Invest in a High-Quality Blender
Like with many things in life, when it comes to blenders, you get what you pay for. A high-performance blender will make sure every ingredient in your smoothies — anything from a giant celery stalk down to the smallest strawberry seed — gets fully broken down. The result? A smoothie that has the same consistency as soft-serve ice cream.
This is particularly important if you’re putting protein powders, greens powders, or fibrous fruits and veggies in your smoothie. A high-performance blender guarantees that you won’t end up with clumps or fibrous material. So, if you’re working with an outdated or overused machine, try upgrading to a MagicBullet, Ninja, or a Vitamix, depending on your budget and specific needs.
Vitamix A2300 Series Ascent Blender, $449.95 from Williams Sonoma
A powerful blender can blitz the filling as well as the batter.
Ditch the Powders
Speaking of powders, it’s easy to get carried away by the huge range of superfood/protein/antioxidant powders and potions out there. After all, each one promises to add a ton of nutrients and health benefits to your smoothie. Unfortunately, these powders can majorly sabotage your smoothie’s taste and texture. Plus, you know what else has awesome nutrients and health benefits? Real food. Next time, instead of adding a protein powder, try adding a scoop of nut butter. Instead of turmeric powder, try adding fresh turmeric root. Instead of an antioxidant beauty powder, try adding berries, which are chock-full of skin-supporting nutrients.
On top of general clumpiness, powders often contain artificial sweeteners. And even “natural” sugar substitutes like stevia and monkfruit have intense flavors that will overpower your smoothie. If you’re using powders, make sure they’re sweetened with real sugar or even better, not sweetened at all. If you want to add protein to your smoothie, without getting a chalky or chemical-like after taste, try adding hydrolyzed collagen powder. Collagen dissolves completely and is totally flavor-less, making it a great addition to any smoothie.
Get Creative with Creaminess
You may be tempted to add milk, ice cream, or yogurt to your smoothie for extra creaminess but the truth is, there are better (and healthier!) ingredients to rely on. For example, fresh avocado can create a ton of creaminess and texture. A little goes a long way, so just scoop ¼ of a medium or large avocado to your smoothie and see what a world of difference it makes.
Another option is hemp seeds, which healthy cookbook author Liz Moody relies on for creaminess in her smoothies. When combined with water, hemp seeds blend into a super creamy hemp seed milk. Try whipping up Moody’s Minty Pineapple Smoothie recipe, which incorporates hemp seeds and avocado for creaminess and also fresh mint and cayenne for tons of flavor.
Put Down the Ice!
This might be the most common smoothie-making mistake out there. Ice might seem like the most obvious way to cool down your smoothie but ice also turns into water, leaving you with a final product that inevitably tastes watery and weak. Instead, use frozen fruit as the cold component for your smoothie. If you’re trying to make a low-sugar smoothie, you can substitute some of the frozen fruit for frozen cauliflower or frozen greens. This will leave you with a smoothie that tastes like the one you get from a smoothie bar, without the dent in your wallet.
Top It Off
Just like any meal, a sprinkle of sea salt, a bit of lemon zest, a mint leaf, or a dash of cinnamon or ginger can really bring your smoothie to a new level. This last special touch will add a little bit of flavor, texture, and make your smoothie feel like an experience instead of just a quick meal substitute.
There are a lot of great reasons to make your smoothies at home; it’s more sustainable, more convenient, and less expensive. And hopefully, now that you know these tips, it’ll be more delicious, too!
Header image courtesy of Brenda Godinez / Unsplash