Reader’s Request: Making a Meal Outta Your Smoothie

Hey everyone! How are ya? Hope you’re having a splendid morning 🙂

I get a lot of emails asking for basic tips on how to put smoothies together. I totally feel ya- there are so many ingredients and combos out there, and as a newbie, it can feel intimidating. It’s also easy to throw stuff willy nilly into the blender and *hope* it comes out tasty 😉


Here are some steps to making the perfect smoothie:

*Note: It’s always better to have *real* food as smoothies digest extremely quickly, but these tips should help with satiety when you’re on a time crunch or craving something cold to eat in the summer months.

1) Pick Your Liquid


This is going to be the basis for the smoothie. You can roll with milk of choice (for a creamy, more milkshake-like smoothie); almond milk is my fave), fruit juice, coffee, tea or water. Add 1-2 cups.

2) Add Your Protein

sun warrior

Sun Warrior = My protein lovahhh

Vega is #2 🙂

Including protein powder is going to pump up the nutrient value of the smoothie and help repair lean muscle. Always include protein if your smoothie is 30-60 minutes after a strength training workout. For tips on finding your perfect protein powder, click here. Add 1/2 – 1 serving.

3) Choose Your Fruit


(bahaha, I had to do it. Please don’t be offended of the flasher banana)

This is one of the most fun parts of the art of smoothie making. Add in whichever fruits you have on hand- I usually wash and chop mine, freeze on a baking sheet, then transfer to a Ziploc baggie to keep in the freezer. Add 1-2 servings (1/2 C to 1 C). *Bonus: organic fruits are much less expensive when you buy them frozen.

4) Pick a fat, any [healthy] fat

almond butter

Healthy fat is so important for nutrient absorption as well as brain function, reproductive health, immune and nervous systems. Nut butter is a great choice, or almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flax, hemp seeds or coconut oil. Add 1/2 – 1 servings (a tablespoon of fat usually works well for me)


5) Greens


Greens are fun to add to smoothies, especially since it’s a quick way to get in a veggie serving and extra nutrients. Word to the wise: kale in smoothies tastes like death. To me, at least 😉 I’d roll with spinach or chard, especially if you’re a newbie.

6) Starch


Adding starch, such as a banana or some oatmeal will give the smoothie a thicker texture and will make it more filling due to the increase in fiber and carbs for energy.

7) Texture


For a thicker smoothie, add 1/4 avocado or 1 serving of lowfat yogurt. If you choose to add these, you can opt out of #4, since you’ll be increasing the fat content with the avocado or yogurt. You can also add cacao nibs, chocolate chips, coconut or granola for a little extra crunch.

8) Flavor

Flavor it up!

– A pinch of sea salt will bring out the sweetness in the fruit

– 1/2 t vanilla will make the smoothie more aromatic and deepen the flavor

– Feel free to add seasonings (cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne), superfoods (maca, mesquite, cacao, spirulina) or fresh herbs (lavender, mint, basil)

-For extra sweetness, add in some Stevia, maple syrup, honey or a medjool date

9) Presentation

Garnish using an ingredient that’s in the smoothie, and slurp up with a Glass Dharma straw 😀

More tips:

Use frozen fruit instead of ice. Ice waters down the smoothie and frozen fruit brings it down to the perfect temperature without sacrificing flavor

-While blending, blend at the “low-medium” speed (on the Vita-mixalicious, level 4) until all of the ingredients are fully chopped and combined (about 2 minutes). After this point, increase the speed all the way to high and blend for an additional minute. If you try to go to high speed right away, all of the fruit will migrate to the bottom and get stuck. If things aren’t blending smoothly, add a little more liquid.

-The cool thing about enjoying smoothies as meals is that you can customize them to fit your nutritional needs. I often suggest an extra smoothie to clients who are looking to gain weight. It provides extra calories, without actually having to *eat* them- you just make the smoothie in the AM, leave it in the fridge and make sure it’s gone by the end of the day (in addition to the regular eats). If you’re not looking to gain weight, smoothies are a great choice for a quick and nutritious meal.

-For some awesome smoothie combos, check out Show Me Your Smoothie 😀

Today’s smoothie:

Chocolate Cayenne Smoothie


-1 C cold chocolate almond milk

-1/2 C water

-1/4 avocado (or 1/2 banana)

-1 scoop vanilla Sun Warrior

-1 T raw cacao powder

-1/2 T cacao nibs + extra for garnish

-1/2 t vanilla

-1/4 t cayenne (to taste)

-pinch of sea salt

-Stevia, to taste

Blend in the Vitamix and enjoy 😀

© 2010 The Fitnessista


Well friends, I’m off to the dentist to get a tiny cavity filled. The dentist looks like my dad, so I hope he does a good job and is gentle to my chompers 😉 Wish me luck!

My dentist reward: shopping and juice afterwards 😀



Something to talk about: What’s your all-time favorite smoothie combo? Are there any smoothie-making tips that I missed?

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  1. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on June 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    This was so helpful! My smoothies barely ever fill me up, even just as a snack! 😛 I can’t wait to try out this “formula” for the perfect smoothie!

  2. Melissa on June 22, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Oh, another thing I just remembered: I’ve been making my own almond milk for the smoothies. I’m not sure if it’s worth drinking on its own but it’s perfect for my smoothie needs. It’s probably cheaper per cup than what I was buying and I don’t have to worry about running out. It needs some preparation, though:

    I use raw almonds, about 7.5 per cup of desired milk. I soak the almonds overnight in the refrigerator, in just enough water to cover. The next day I rinse them off, throw them into my blender with one cup cold water and blend until it’s all very pulverized. One can strain the mixture at this point but I don’t because I like the texture and want the fiber. I do this before I add any vegetables or fruit, et cetera.

    Try it! It’s fun!

    • Fitnessista on June 22, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      i love making homemade almond milk- i do it every week 🙂

      • Melissa on June 22, 2010 at 9:23 pm

        Do you strain it? Put in other stuff, like agave?

  3. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine on June 22, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I loved this post!! So full of great tips- not surprising, since your creations always look amazing!! I’m craving a smoothie now 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  4. Olga on June 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    How many calories are in your smoothie recipe?

    • Fitnessista on June 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm

      hmm about 400 i’d guess?

  5. Melissa on June 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    A green smoothie I made recently:

    *almond milk (I made my own by blending 7.5 soaked-overnight raw almonds with 1 cup water but store-bought almond milk is fine)

    * 2 ounces kale

    * 1 ounce watercress

    * a few sprigs worth of mint leaves (just the leaves, not the sprigs themselves)

    * 1.5 T lime juice (the yield of half a lime)

    * 2 ounces blueberries

    * 1/2 ounce blackberries

    * 1 serving Tera’s Whey Blueberry Flavor
    oz-organic-blueberry.html ]

    * 1 T raw Cacao Powder

    * Sweetener to taste. I use Splenda (!!!)

    It was delicious!

    Nutritional Analysis — it packs quite a punch!:

    243 Calories
    6 grams Fat
    24 grams Carbohydrates
    25 grams Protein
    5 grams Cholesterol
    9 grams Iron
    426 grams Potassium
    19 grams Calcium
    6 grams Fiber
    102 grams Vitamin C

  6. Dana in KC on June 22, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    My current favorite is strawberry, green tea. I use vanilla protein powder,strawberries, brewed green tea from the fridge,ice and some yogurt. It reminds me of green tea ice cream.

  7. Brynne on June 22, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    GREAT post Gina! Love the banana flasher hahahahaha!

  8. Melissa S. on June 22, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    great smoothie post gina! i loved it, since i’m always trying to up my smoothies to last me through long field work mornings!

  9. Jackie (Peaces of Earth) on June 23, 2010 at 1:11 am

    You are spot on with your formula!! My favorite combo is, of course, chocolate/PB/banana. Will never get old!

  10. Lauren @ BIOCHEMISTA on June 23, 2010 at 1:41 am

    HI GINA,

    Thank you for posting this!!! I especially appreciated that you mentioned how important it is to include a source of fat to promote the absorption of fat soluble vitamins coupled to many ‘fat cautious’ people. I think this is super important for all smoothies (non-meal ones and regular smoothies alike). With all of the new vitamin and green powders available now, it’s a great reminder for people to add just a little bit. I usually add a tbsp of flax seed oil but almond butter is also a great idea.

    Thanks 🙂

  11. smoothie recipe on June 23, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Wow, that chocolate cayenne smoothie looks really amazing! Who would refuse such a delicious and healthy drink? I’m glad my kids are now loving smoothies,too! They love fruity smoothies, and I’m really happy about it. I’m particularly fond of veggie smoothies but I’m not rushing my kids into it. Although they have tried pumpkin and carrot smoothies already, 🙂

  12. sharon on June 23, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    i recently tried avocado in my smoothie and i LOVE it! 🙂 could i use ‘spirulina’ for the ‘greens’ part? I don’t always have fresh greens around so would green powders be a good replacement?

    • Fitnessista on June 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm

      yes, it’s a great replacement!

  13. Emily on May 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I can’t get enough smoothies in the summer! Love the idea of adding salt to the fruit, thanks.

    Here’s my current fav flavor, it tastes like a raspberry truffle :

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