#29: Anatomy of a Smoothie

Ah, the perfect smoothie...the right blend of creaminess, sweetness and energy that feels great when it hits your lips! People of all ages love a good smoothie and you don’t have to be Bobby Flay in order to craft your own culinary masterpiece. All you need is a blender and you’re good to go. Right? Wrong.

Here we give you the perfect formula for creating tasty, healthy smoothies in your kitchen and point out the pitfalls that lead to common smoothie mishaps.

The Sugar Bomb

The worst and most common smoothie offender is the sugar bomb. While it’s hard to hate on sweet combinations of strawberries, bananas and mangoes, just go to any juice bar and you’ll notice that these types of shakes typically have north of 30 grams of sugar (more than 40 grams of carbs) for a 20 oz beverage! These drinks will take you down just as quickly as they juice you up, leaving you sluggish and searching for a snack in no time.

T + W Solution

The best way to avoid a sugar bomb is to go easy on the fruit and make sure you add healthy fats like peanut butter or avocado. Adding the fat will slow your body’s absorption of the sugar which will help you stay energized over a longer period of time. It will also make the smoothie taste good and add a thicker consistency.  If you are buying from a smoothie bar, be sure the smoothie you choose contains nuts, coconut or avocado. If it doesn’t add it in!

This is the nutrition info for a popular smoothie chain in NYC. Notice the high quantities of sugar and carbohydrates. Most of the smoothies have little to no fat which is a sure way to stay on the blood sugar roller coaster. Opt for the ones with more fat to help balance energy levels

This is the nutrition info for a popular smoothie chain in NYC. Notice the high quantities of sugar and carbohydrates. Most of the smoothies have little to no fat which is a sure way to stay on the blood sugar roller coaster. Opt for the ones with more fat to help balance energy levels

Watery Woes and the Thick Brick

How many times have you gotten a smoothie and it’s thin and watery? You take a sip, pull too quick and now it’s all over your face! This usually happens when you skimp on the fat and go overboard on the liquid. From a nutrition standpoint, a smoothie with this consistency will likely be missing enough fiber and fat to keep you satisfied and nourished.

On the other side of the spectrum is the smoothie that is so thick you can’t even get it out of the straw! You take a sip, pull with all the breath in your lungs and you feel like you just swallowed heavy quicksand. This usually means you added too much fruit.

T + W Solution

The best (and most nutritious) way to thicken up a smoothie is to add half an avocado. You can get the same effect by using half a frozen banana but you are going to want to pay close attention to the amount of fruit you are packing in there. More on that below!

You can also turn a really thick smoothie into a smoothie bowl. Just pour in a bowl instead of a cup, sprinkle with your favorite toppings like chia seeds, shredded coconut or flax powder and eat with a spoon! You can also add a touch more almond milk or whatever liquid you are using.

T + W Guide to Making Perfect Smoothies

We never want you to have a sugar bomb, watery woe or thick brick. To make sure that never happens, follow our fool-proof method for concocting perfect smoothies with balanced macronutrient profiles – carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

As a general rule of thumb, our guidelines for the perfect smoothie are:  

  • 1 Cup of liquid
  • ½ Cup of frozen fruit
  • ½ Cup frozen or fresh spinach/kale/collards/chard
  • 1-2 scoops of protein powder
  • 1 Tbsp fat (like peanut butter or coconut butter)

Notice that we sneak in some greens with every smoothie we make. We say “sneak” because you get all the antioxidant benefits of the dark, green leafy veggies while the flavor is completely masked by the rest of the ingredients.

We always add a good quality protein powder to our smoothies because proteins are the building blocks of our body. It’s especially important when you’re working out because it will aid in both building and repairing muscle. Our approach to protein powders is the simpler and more natural, the better. We like Tera’s Whey because it’s sourced from grass-fed cows, is gluten free and has no GMOs. Nutiva also makes a great hemp-based protein for all you vegetarians out there. For more info on what separates a good protein powder from a bad one, here’s a great article by the FoodBabe.

Remember, we are all unique. Think about it this way: LeBron James, who puts up 30 points and 10 rebounds a game will definitely need more carbs (read: fruit) than your cousin Sarah who’s sitting at a computer all day long. Adjust the amount of carbohydrates you add based on your body type and level of activity. Most of us will do better with more protein and fat and a little less fruit! Remember to have FUN! The possibilities are endless for just how tasty, nutritious and delicious your mornings could be!

Now we want to hear from YOU! Leave a comment below or head over to our Facebook or Instagram page and share your favorite smoothies with the rest of the T+W community.