7 Ways to Upgrade Your Smoothies and Shakes
You can’t beat the “meal in a cup” convenience of a smoothie or shake. A smoothie or a shake also provides built-in portion control, which can be so helpful. However, whether it’s Instagram-ready or a basic powder-water combo, your beverage should do more than just fill you up on the way out the door. So check out these seven smoothie upgrades—and become a shake master in the process.
- Powders—start smart. Choose your powder wisely, as it’s the foundation of your shake. Expect more from a powder than just a pleasing flavor, texture, and adequate protein. It should also deliver the essential vitamins and minerals—in the most bioavailable forms that your body needs—without the artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and GMOs it can do without. Of course, many individuals may also desire a gluten- and dairy-free formulation. Look for products from a GMP-certified manufacturer. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification is your assurance of product quality and your best strategy for reducing exposure to contamination, heavy metals, or inactive ingredients.
- Liquids—keep ’em cold. For best taste, always mix your powder with a chilled liquid. Add ice!
- Variety is the spice of life. Change it up! Luckily, base powders come in a wide variety of flavors. Likewise, experiment with dairy or dairy alternative beverages for different tastes and textures. Make a change now and then to avoid “flavor fatigue.”
- Get creative and enhance nutrition with add-ins!
- Increase fiber and satiety by adding fruit to your shake. Berries (ideally organic) in particular will give an antioxidant boost. If you don’t regularly eat much fruit, this is an easy way to get a serving of fruit each day. For convenience and cost savings, use frozen fruit. Add it to a blender with or instead of ice.
- Bring on the nonstarchy vegetables, especially greens, such as kale or spinach or even fresh herbs! If you want your drink to have more volume, fiber-rich nonstarchy vegetables will fill you up with few added calories. Try adding as much as two cups of vegetables. Bonus: It’s a great way to clean out your crisper and reduce food waste!
- Nuts and seeds. Add a serving of seeds to your shake for extra flavor and texture. Almonds, almond butter, and walnuts, as well as unsweetened, shredded coconut all work very well. Chia seeds and ground flaxseed act like natural thickeners and add fiber as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
- Herbs, spices, & more. Try some of these combinations or even try mixing powder flavors.
- Chocolate-flavored shake powders: carob, cacao, powdered cinnamon, or fresh mint
- Vanilla-flavored shake powders: vanilla extract, cilantro, cardamom, cinnamon, or nutmeg
- Fruit-flavored shake powders: fresh lemon or lime juice or fresh grated ginger
- Shaker, blender, or high-speed blender? Bottom line: Use whichever is most convenient for you. Here’s a run-down of the pros and cons.
- Shaker cups = convenience. However, if you want to add fruits or vegetables, a blender is a must.
- High-speed blenders. Vitamix, Blend-Tecs, Ninjas, etc., can process just about any fruits, vegetables, or other add-ins into a relatively smooth shake. But you’ll pay a price premium for their powerful motors.
- Standard blenders. Any kitchen blender will work just fine. However, a produce-dense shake may end up a little chunkier, more like a “chewie” than a smoothie. While that might not be ideal for Instagram, it’s great for your digestive system! Chewing stimulates a cascade of digestive processes, such as the secretion of digestive enzymes and bicarbonate into the lumen of the small intestines.
- Go easy on the blending. For best texture, blend fruits, vegetables, ice, or other add-ins, with the liquid first. Then, add the powder and briefly blend again for no more than 20-30 seconds.
- Don’t delay. For the freshest taste and texture, enjoy drinks made with preservative-free powders within 20 minutes of preparation.
What’s your favorite shake combination? Share a picture or description!