Smoothies are one of the greatest inventions ever made for athletes, students, and professionals on the go. Smoothies are a great way to pack all your nutritional needs into a quick drinkable meal, from fruits and veggies to grains and protein. You might rock the protein-mix smoothie in the morning to get going without stopping for breakfast. Or you might enjoy a fruit smoothie for that boost of sugar and diverse nutrients.
Indulging in a homemade smoothie every once in a while can be a production. But if you’re drinking smoothies every day as part of your routine, it helps to have more than a few hacks to speed up the process and diversify your smoothie benefits.
Today, we’re here to bring you a collection of smoothie hacks developed by daily smoothie gurus ranging from pro athletes to CEOs to super-moms. Here’s how to up your smoothie game and make daily smoothies easier than ever before.
1. Always Add a Liquid First
Having trouble blending the bottom of your smoothie? Always pour a little bit of liquid or, at the thickest, yogurt around the blades before adding your first chunked or dry ingredients. The liquid lubricates the blades and helps swish-around the larger ingredients, so they fall into the blades to be blended. Blenders rely on the swirling whirlpool of liquid-dynamics to work correctly, so always start your smoothies with a splash of liquid over the blades. Pour in maybe 1/3 of your total liquid into the pitcher to start with and add the rest as you go along.
2. Skip the Ice, Use Frozen Fruits or Juice-Cubes
Tired of ice cubes or watery smoothies? Many people like icy smoothies that melt into very hydrating watery slushes over time. But if you’ve been looking for a way to get freezing cold smoothies without the ice, frozen fruit is your answer.
Buy bags of frozen berries or buy fresh seasonal fruit and freeze it yourself. Frozen fruit contains water crystals but packs that flavorful and nutrient-rich punch of actual fruit instead of water-ice. This is a great way to improve the flavor of your smoothies while still getting them deliciously cold. You can also freeze fruit juice in an ice tray for non-diluting ice ingredients.
For a creamy cold smoothie, freeze fresh bananas (at your favorite ripeness) by slicing them and then storing the slices in tubes of Press’n’Seal. Cut at angles that don’t stick together for best results. Then pop one banana tube per creamy smoothy for an ice-cold non-watered-down delight.
3. Heat Your Winter Shakes
You can also take your smoothies in the other direction. In the winter when what you really want is a warm breakfast, without the weight or hassle of a food-meal, try making a hot protein smoothie instead of drinking hot coffee.
Protein powder for meal-shakes goes fantastically into smoothies. As do other supplemental powders that tend to go into protein shakes. In cold smoothies, it mixes well with milk, yogurt, and creamy banana smoothies. But in the winter, it mixes fantastically with hot cocoa powder instead.
Try making your protein-shakes with hot milk (water, almond milk, etc.) and hot cocoa powder or even combine with your morning coffee for a warm mocha breakfast with that protein boost you need.
4. Thicken and Thin to Taste
One of the greatest challenges of the DIY smoothie chef is getting the thickness right. Not enough liquid and you’re eating your smoothie with a spoon. Too much, and it’s practically juice or chocolate milk (depending on your recipe). Each of us has a preference, and sometimes the flavor will determine the best thickness.
The trick isn’t adding water; it’s knowing the right liquids to use for flavor and thickness balance. Vanilla almond milk, for example, is a better thinner than plain water or milk for flavor. While orange or apple juice are great to thin a fruit smoothie that’s a little too thick.
Thickening is a little more delicate. Try an extra scoop of protein powder or a few extra pieces of frozen banana for creamy thickness. Chia seeds, yogurt, cottage cheese, silken tofu, and avocado are also good thickening agents depending on your taste and recipe.
5. Hide Your Daily Greens in Smoothies
Many of us have trouble getting the right amount of dark-green and other colorful vegetables in our diet. You can only eat so many salads or pile so many leaves on a sandwich, but you can drink a nearly infinite number of smoothies. Blending a few pieces of vegetables into your smoothies can be a life-saving way to eat, say, kale or sweet potato, if they’re not your jam.
In the right mixes, vegetable flavors completely disappear when blended with other fruits and tasty ingredients. You can fuel your body with those essential trace nutrients found in veggies without eating a plate of greens by sneaking them into your smoothies.
6. Add Ground Grains for Complex Carbs
You can also add ingredients that wouldn’t normally occur to someone making mainly protein or fruit smoothies. Crushed or cooked oats and other cereal grains add a little oomph to a smoothie’s consistency and are a great way to fuel up on complex carbs for the day. Complex carbs digest more slowly and whole grains, along with seeds and some nuts, provide the fiber that will keep your body healthily processing all those smoothie nutrients.
If you tend to skip the oatmeal and whole-wheat toast for a morning smoothie, a few grains in that smoothie can give your energy lasting power.
7. Make Recipies for Your Necessities
Smoothies are also great for things that you have to eat that maybe other people don’t. If you need to take powder supplements or a liquid medicine for a medical condition, try mixing it into your morning smoothie instead. Many people have conditions that require a specific balance of nutrients or things to avoid that can be hard to put together in normal food. There may be things you dislike the flavor of, have a hard time remembering to take, or dislike consuming with food.
But you can use smoothie technology to make a recipe that hides the flavor and ensures that your medical necessities become a delicious part of your daily routine.
8. Make-Ahead Batches of Favorite Smoothies
Get ahead of the game on smoothies when you’re pressed for time by making a large batch of smoothies with your favorite recipe and enjoy them throughout the week. Depending on the size of your blender and your ideal smoothie portion, you could make enough smoothies for the whole work-week without worrying about stopping for breakfast on your way out the door.
There are a few different ways to do make-ahead smoothies. Some pros swear by the smoothie-cube theory, where you freeze your smoothies into ice cubes and re-blend quickly. Some refrigerate and shake before drinking. Some refrigerate and re-blend. Let your preference be your guide.
9. Freeze Leftover Smoothie Mix into Pops
Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to make the perfectly portioned smoothie on the first try. Maybe you’ve got a go-to recipe that’s precisely measured and it all pours neatly into your favorite cup. But for most experimental recipes and the average DIY smoothie chef, there’s always a little left-over at the end. No problem.
Get yourself an ice tray and turn the extra into smoothie-pops. Stick a toothpick or popsicle stick into each cube as it freezes or even get an ice-pop mold just for the purpose. Or you can freeze the cubes and blend them into your next similar-recipe smoothie for a cold flavor burst.
Here at Meuller Sports Medicine, we know how important a quick nutritious meal can be. Smoothies have been helping athletes and busy professionals get that necessary energy boost and maintain a healthy balance of nutrition for as long as there have been blenders. For more expert insights on health, athletics, and injury recovery, visit our other blogs!
*Please consult with a medical professional if you have any medical issues that may be affected by the suggested activities.