Sure, we all know how to make a smoothie: Fire up the blender and add some kitchen favorites, right? Wrong. In fact, lack of strategy can result in smoothies that are low in nutrients, high in sugar, and weird in texture.
That's why we asked celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, author of The Body Reset Diet, and Candice Kumai, former host of Lifetime's Cook Yourself Thin and author of Clean Green Drinks, about the biggest dos and don'ts of smoothie chef-ing. Here's how to make a smoothie that's seriously worth slurping.
1. Include protein, fiber, and healthy fat.
"Every smoothie should have what I call the 'holy trinity of satiety'—protein, fiber, and healthy fat," Pasternak says. Try a protein powder or nonfat Greek yogurt for a powerful punch of protein, add in plenty of fruits and veggies for fiber, and seeds, nuts, or avocado for a healthy dose of unsaturated fats.
2. Get a good blender.
"The most common mistake people make is using a blender with no power," Pasternak says. "The majority of household blenders can't get frozen fruits smooth, or chop through seeds, so you get a smoothie that's not very smooth." Sound less than appetizing? Kumai recommends selecting a blender that comes with a "tamper," a stick that you can use to push floating foods down into the blender's blades and is designed to break up air pockets and create a thicker blend.
3. Add your liquids first.
If you do, your smoothie will blend more easily, according to Pasternak. However, if you've followed the last tip and fired up a quality blender, the order in which you add ingredients won't make a huge difference, Kumai says.
4. Use frozen fruit.
"I like frozen fruit for smoothies for a few reasons—it's more economical, because you can buy in bulk without worrying about it rotting; you can buy out-of-season ingredients; and it provides a delicious, refreshing icy texture to the smoothie," Pasternak says. Bonus: Since frozen fruit is picked and sealed at its nutritional peak, it contains more vitamins and antioxidants than its "fresh" counterparts, according to research from the University of Chester in England.
5. Pick your milk wisely.
Pasternak prefers using hormone-free nonfat dairy milk in his smoothies. But if you're lactose intolerant, almond and soymilk can also work great. Kumai recommends opting for unsweetened blends.
6. Skip the sugar.
The fruits in your blender contain enough sugars—you don't need to pour in spoonfuls of sugar or honey, Kumai says. If your smoothie isn't sweet enough for your tastes, add some more fiber-packed fruit.