When you create the perfect healthy smoothie recipe, it can feel like you just unlocked the meaning of life.
Did you know that unsweetened almond milk, half of a frozen banana, a heaping scoop of Greek yogurt, spirulina, a drop of vanilla extract, two drops of peppermint essential oil, and a spoon of stevia tastes exactly like a Shamrock Shake -- but it's actually extremely healthy?
Don't even get us started on Girl Scout cookie inspired healthy smoothies.
There's one problem: Most people can make a smoothie taste good, but they might as well drink a McDonald's shake for breakfast.
Tiny amounts of sugar add up super-fast as you pour and toss them into the blender.
Fortunately, you can design a satisfying and healthy smoothie without even having to count calories.
Just start with a healthy base and keep a few things in mind.
How to Design a Healthy Smoothie Recipe with Superfood Ingredients
Before anything else, create a healthy base recipe.
Green Smoothie Ingredients
For every 100 people who read this article, only five consume enough fiber each day. (1)
Sure, other ingredients on this list may have more fiber, but leafy greens are low in calories and fat yet high in antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients so they're perfect for weight loss and overall health.
Kale, spinach, and collard greens are all accessible and affordable choices.
As a bonus, leafy greens are flavorless when combined with fruits and spices.
Plus, they add an appropriately green hue to your mint-flavored smoothies.
You might think you're avoiding mortal smoothie sins by avoiding table or raw sugar, but fruits can sneak up and bite you.
Pineapple, apple, guava, cherries.
While these all taste great and no doubt have plenty of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and nutrients, they're also loaded with sugar.
Not only do veggies deliver extra nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, but they also help you create an Instagram-worthy result.
Beets, cooked sweet potatoes, and pumpkin puree (not pie filling) are all great options.
Pumpkin puree, oats, pumpkin spice, and frozen Greek yogurt tastes just like a slice of the good stuff with virtually no sugar and plenty of fiber!
For going green, keep celery or cucumbers on-hand for extra fiber and water content to keep you full, hydrated, and aid weight loss efforts.
Every smoothie needs at least a dash of liquid to keep it slurpable.
Even organic cow's milk is loaded with sugar and carbs.
Instead, go with unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened coconut milk, or unsweetened green tea -- all of which have extra health benefits like healthy fats, calcium, and antioxidants.
Good Source of Protein and Healthy Fats
Healthy fats, protein, and fiber from ingredients like peanut butter or almond butter will help you stay satisfied until next mealtime rolls around.
Avocado is also a great choice: It's got a neutral flavor, a shocking 10g of fiber, and more potassium than a banana!
The Best Smoothie Add-Ins for Good Health All Day Long
Use these superfood-status smoothie add-ins to give your recipe an extra boost of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other incredible benefits!
1. Ground Flax Seeds
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for defending against heart disease, reducing your risk of cancer, and supporting brain health.
Unfortunately, the modern American diet severely lacks sources of omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed. (2)
You can easily toss some ground flaxseed into your morning smoothie without even noticing the taste.
2. Leafy Green Powder
Some people live in food deserts where fresh kale and leafy greens aren't always guaranteed.
Others can't go through their spinach fast enough and it ends up going bad.
You can buy an excellent leafy green superfood powder online and get the same (if not more) nutrients, antioxidants, and health benefits.
Make sure the leafy green powder you choose has no strange filler ingredients or added sugar for taste and tests for heavy metal contamination.
3. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are loaded with fiber, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, amino acids, and way more protein than any other seed on this list.
Research shows that hemp seeds can help reduce your risk of heart disease and supply anti-inflammatory properties. (3)
4. Medicinal Mushroom Powders
Medicinal mushrooms like chaga, cordyceps, turkey tail, and lion's mane contain unbelievable levels of antioxidants and special substances called beta-glucans.
Beta-glucans and other compounds in medicinal mushroom powders help regulate the immune system, fight inflammation, defend against cancer, support brain health, and improve physical stamina.
You just need to find the right medicinal mushroom powder to fit your needs!
5. Greek Yogurt
(Unsweetened) Greek yogurt is perfect for adding a little creaminess to your smoothies.
Aside from texture and flavor, you also get plenty of protein and probiotics to support immune and digestive health.
6. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids for heart and central nervous system health.
A spoon of chia seeds in your smoothie will also provide loads of fiber, manganese, and magnesium for nerve health along with a healthy dose of antioxidants.
Chia seeds are especially effective for weight loss because they absorb water and help you feel satiated for longer periods of time.
Studies show that consuming chia seeds as part of a weight-loss plan can help you reduce the amount of food and calories you eat each day. (4)
7. Vegan Protein Powder
Every smoothie needs a little protein boost!
Vegan protein powders made from sources like pea, hemp, or pumpkin all supply plenty of fuel and other incredible nutrients.
We almost forgot to mention that hemp powder is a complete protein!
Yes, it's a plant-based protein powder with all nine essential amino acids you need to build healthy muscles.
8. Coconut Oil
If you have a friend on the keto diet (or you're that friend), you've no doubt heard about the importance of MCTs in coconut oil.
Your body uses MCTs, aka medium-chain triglycerides, as an instant energy source so it's less likely to end up stored as fat, making coconut oil great for weight loss.
9. Maca Root
As smoothie add-ins, maca gives you a healthy dose of vitamin C, fiber, and copper.
Maca may also improve memory and energy levels. (7)
10. Collagen Powder
You'll often hear collagen called the "glue" that holds cells in your body together.
Unfortunately, collagen production deteriorates with age.
11. Spirulina or Chlorella
Spirulina and chlorella are similar with a few unique qualities.
Green and blue-green algae are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
Not only are they packed with iron and protein, but they also supply special antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties which may reduce pain, improve blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, and much more. (10)
Plus, they give your smoothie a nice green color.
12. Cacao Powder
Chocolate lovers need 100% cacao powder for their smoothies.
It's loaded with antioxidants, has virtually no sugar or fat, and makes your smoothies taste like decadent milkshakes!
13. Bee Pollen
Bee pollen can strengthen your immune system, function as an anti-inflammatory, calm the CNS to relieve stress, and supply plenty of free-radical fighting antioxidants. (11)
15. Essential Oils, Extracts, and Spices
Consumption-grade essential oils like peppermint, orange, and cinnamon all deliver plenty of flavor and concentrated phytonutrients.
Organic extracts like vanilla also add flavor boosts and some health benefits when manufactured under the right conditions.
Don't forget spices: turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne are all great for fighting inflammation and making your smoothies taste great without added sugar.
4 Smoothie Add-Ins to Avoid
It's just as critical to avoid sabotaging your healthy smoothie recipe with unhealthy ingredients.
- Hidden sugar from sweetened milk or canned fruits
- Table sugar
- Natural sweeteners that can spike blood sugar levels like honey and agave
- Fruit juice (too much natural sugar)
The Bottom Line
Starting with a healthy smoothie recipe base is the easiest way to make sure your frozen goodness works for you and not against you. Start with low-sugar fruits like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, kiwi, and minimal banana along with plenty of leafy greens or veggies.
From there, you want to mix in some healthy fats and a reliable source of protein to keep your stomach, mind, and body satisfied. Finally, choose some superfood add-ins like mushroom powder, collagen, chia seeds, and more to give your body a boost!