Once upon a time, making a smoothie essentially meant whirring some berries, milk and ice in a blender. Not anymore. Nowadays, we’re blending up anything that’ll fit in the Vitamix into nutrition-packed shakes and slushies that are like supplements you can suck down with a straw.
Our friends at The Chalkboard Magazine have been kind enough to share their must-have ingredients – add them together in every combo you can imagine and let us know your own favorites!
13 Must-Have Smoothie Ingredients
1. Clean Protein Powder
Protein powders come in all shapes and sizes – you’ve got to find what works for you. If you’re going with whey protein, be sure it’s coming from grass-fed animals and processed responsibly. Most people find goat protein more easily digestible. We’re huge fans of hemp protein powder which is full of essential fatty acids. And SunWarrior is great for vegans with its full profile of amino acids.
Read our guide to protein powder!
2. Chia Gel
Remember, it’s not just about chia seeds, it’s about creating chia gel: before adding your tiny seeds to your smoothie, stir them in a little liquid. Let them gel up and add that to your smoothie. The real trick with these tiny power-packed suckers is in the soaking process and it only take a few minutes. Learn the fine print on chia here.
3. Reishi Powder
Mushrooms in your smoothie? Absolutely. Reishi mushrooms are incredible for immunity and adaptogenic, meaning they help to bring your body into balance no matter how you’re feeling. A powerful superfood for longevity and a sense of well-being.
Maca provides an instant stamina boost, perfect for everything from that early morning gym trip to fighting chronic fatigue. In addition, maca can help balance stress within the body, aid in reproductive function (it can have a sex-drive boosting effect, watch out!) and increase fertility. You can read more about maca here.
Try our recipe for Hormone-Balancing Hot Chocolate with Maca Powder
Not only does adding half of an avocado to your smoothie provide you with essential fats (and protein) to make your skin glow, feed your brain, and turbo-charge fat burn (yes, you should eat fat to burn fat) – it adds a creaminess to smoothies that makes them seem way more sinful than they actually are.
We love this Detox Smoothie with avocado, cucumber and pineapple
Gelatin is essentially derived from collagen, which is essential to creating and maintaining healthy, supple joints, skin and other connective tissue. Collagen declines as we age, but can be supplemented and yield fantastic results – throw a little of this non-vegan pantry staple of ours into a smoothie and we swear you won’t taste the difference.
Read up on the Health Benefits of Gelatin
7. Coconut Butter
Coconut butter, or manna, is another perfect addition for smoothies. The fats help bind all the greens and powders and the world-class fats in coconut will fill you up and deeply nourish you. Be sure to find coconut butter that is raw and natural, the body processes it best this way and it’s most nutritious in that natural state.
8. Cacao Powder
Even if your protein powder is chocolate flavored, is there ever any harm in adding more chocolate? We don’t think so. Up the anty on your magnesium intake, get a little energy spike, and add depth of flavor with rich cacao powder – no sugar, no fillers, no nothin’ added. It will also help to keep less healthy cravings at bay!
Add probiotics to your smoothie! Probiotic powders are so easy to use and the addition of yacon (a pre-biotic) and mesquite (to balance blood sugar) are bonuses, too. Smoothies are especially easy to digest, but with all these powerful ingredients, we like to make sure our body is absorbing everything.
10. Almond Milk
There’s nothing on the market like Pressed Juicery’s date and vanilla-laced almond milk – rich, organic and cold-pressed. It’s a little thicker than most almond milks – combined with a bit of ice this stuff creates the perfect smoothie texture with a bit of healthy fats, minerals and more protein.
Make your smoothies a vehicle for a good handful of fresh, bright greens. Kale, spinach and romaine are all nutrient-dense choices that won’t mess too much with your flavor profile. They may take up a lot of room in your blender, but, trust us, the cacao, coconut and other flavors will definitely take the lead once everything’s blended.
Mix things up with 4 Spicy Green Smoothies to keep you healthy all winter long
12. Frozen Berries, Cherries and Acai
Deep red and purple berries are power-packed superfoods – as we all know. Keeping a freezer full of them is the perfect way to keep your intake up without a lot of hassle. Use the frozen fruit instead of ice to add flavor and a little chill.
13. Frozen Bananas or Pineapple
Bananas are a smoothie staple for a reason. They’re so rich in vitamins and minerals and help keep us calm. Not a fan of bananas but want a bit more sweetness to your smoothie? Try frozen pineapple instead. Pineapple contains bromelain, a naturally occurring digestive enzyme that doubles as an anti-inflammatory – fitness pros even say that it helps reduce muscle soreness.