How to make the perfect smoothie

Accredited Dietitian Gemma Cosgriff shares her favourite recipes and tips for putting together a healthy, delicious smoothie.

Who doesn’t love a smoothie? They can make a good on the run breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up, but they can also sometimes be laden with too much sugar, especially if store bought. 

Here are some tips to help your smoothies pack both a nutritional and flavor punch.  

Smoothie versus juicing

Fruit is undeniably at its healthiest in its whole form – chop it up, remove its internal bits and pulverise it into liquid form and you risk losing much of its nutritional value. 

That’s why blending it in a smoothie, where all the fibre is retained in the drink, as opposed to juicing, where much of the fibre ends up in the bin, is a healthier option. 

First base 

Let’s consider some healthy bases for your smoothie.

Do you prefer cow’s milk? If so, keep it to low or reduced fat.

Are soy milk or other non-dairy milks such as almond milk more your style? Make sure it hasn’t been sweetened; sometimes these dairy alternatives can contain added sugar. 

One of the best smoothie bases, both nutritionally and flavour-wise, is plain low-fat yoghurt. It adds a tangy flavour to the smoothie without adding sugar or sweeteners. Yoghurt, milk and soy milks are all high in protein, too. 

Avoid using fruit juice as a base, especially when the smoothie already contains fruit – the sugar load could rocket!
smoothie infographic
How to make the perfect smoothie

Welcome additions

The second step is to consider flavour and nutrition. Add frozen chunks of mango, strawberries, bananas or peaches; they’ll create a wonderfully thick consistency for your smoothie. 

Don’t go overboard with the fruit though. Pulverising fruit can create the impression that there’s not a lot of fruit, but would you normally eat five pieces of fruit in one sitting? 

Green light?

If you have a hankering for a vegie smoothie, jump on board the green train and throw in a handful of spinach or other plant-based ingredients to boost your nutritional intake. 

Why not mix up vegies and fruit? Carrot, apple and orange juice with a hint of ginger, or strawberry, mango, mint and spinach are both great combos; add a spoonful of yoghurt and it’s a taste sensation. 

Welcome additions

Keep the nutritional value of your smoothie high by avoiding ingredients such as honey or other sugar alternatives, instead use only fruit to naturally sweeten the drink. You can include chia seeds, oatmeal, linseed (flaxseed), sunflower seed and almond (LSA) mix, cocoa powder, and spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg.

It’s worth thinking of your smoothie as a meal, as the kilojoules and nutritional benefits can add up to as much as a meal. Keep in mind that if you don’t eat enough vegetables, it can put you at risk of not getting the recommended daily serving of 5 serves, and not broadening the variety of nutrients you consume. And lastly, keep the smoothie portion size relevant for the meal context.
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