So lately I have been playing around with my smoothies/shakes, and I’ve had quite a bit of fun! I’ve been experimenting with how to get the thickest, most voluminous shakes, because I don’t know about you, but watery shakes just don’t fly with me. The thin and drippy consistency is for juice, not for a smoothie/shake.
Since I’ve been pretty excited about the smoothies I’ve been making, I thought I would do a quick Smoothie 101 post and give you guys some of my tips. Keep in mind, each of these methods will add some thickness to your smoothie, but if you combine several of them, it will be even better.
The first tip is one I started playing with after seeing Kath do it. Adding 1/4-1/2 cup of rolled oats to your smoothie/shake gives it so much thickness, not to mention a wonderful “doughy” (as Kath describes it) texture. I don’t know how to explain it, but it almost makes it more like cake batter. It is really cool, but the health benefits are awesome, too! Adding oats will up the fiber of your shake, not to mention help lower cholesterol. It will also likely keep you fuller longer, since shakes are usually made up of fruits, which are simple sugars. Oats are complex carbohydrates and take longer to digest, thus keeping you fuller longer!
Chia Seeds –
The first place I saw chia seeds added to a smoothie was on Ashley’s blog, in her Orange Coconut Creamsicle smoothie. Blending in just a tablespoon of chia seeds to your smoothie makes it much creamier. Also, once again, the fat from chia seeds will keep you fuller longer, and the health benefits of chia seeds are amazing. Chia seeds are one of nature’s highest plant-based sources of complete protein; they help regulate blood pressure; they increase your energy; and they are loaded with vitamins and minerals! Chia seeds are truly a super food.
Frozen Fruit –
This one and the next one are kind of no-brainers, but I thought I would mention them anyway. I always prefer to use frozen fruit over fresh fruit, because it gives the smoothie bulk and coldness!
Frozen Banana –
Behold, the beloved frozen banana. We all know of the banana’s amazing ice cream-making abilities when frozen. When added to a smoothie (with some of the liquid omitted), a frozen banana can change a boring, limp smoothie into a thick, creamy, sweet smoothie. Almost every smoothie/shake I make has at least part of a frozen banana. Note: It must be frozen!
Frozen Almond Milk Cubes –
This is one I have REALLY started to love! Regular old ice is just fine, but sometimes it dilutes the shake too much and makes it too icy. I’m not a fan of icy shakes, and using almond milk cubes solves that problem. I almost always use almond milk cubes now. The almond milk cubes give it a more ice cream-like consistency, without hardly any added calories/fat. You can also freeze coconut milk or any other kind of milk. All you have to do is pour almond milk in an ice cube tray and freeze it overnight. In the morning, throw them into your smoothie and blend. This also works with juice or any other liquid you would normally put in!
Coconut Cream –
When you put just a tablespoon or two of coconut cream in your smoothie, you’ll be surprised at how much richer it is! It is quite high in fat, but the fat is a good kind. It maybe saturated, but it is made up of mostly short- and medium-chain fats. These kinds of fat are quickly utilized by the body for energy instead of stored as fat. As long as you keep moderation in mind, coconut cream makes a great addition to any smoothie/shake.
Frozen Avocado –
This one might seem a little weird, and it is, but it’s great! Once again, the fat from the avocado thickens it up and makes it creamy. I would suggest being careful with this one though, because too much frozen avocado lends an earthy flavor to the shake. It’s a little funky when you go overboard, so be very sparing with this one. :)
Less Milk –
That’s supposed to be a subtraction sign by the milk (or other liquid). A lot of recipes call for one whole cup of liquid, but I almost NEVER use a whole cup. It’s usually 1/2 cup, and 2/3 cup is the absolute max. If I add more than that, it’s just too watery for me. Try reducing the liquid in your next smoothie and see what a difference it makes. :) Note: sometimes reducing the liquid will reduce the overall volume of your smoothie, thus decreasing satiety (for me at least). Make sure that if you reduce the liquid, you add other things to it that will fluff it up and make it bigger.
Yogurt/Soy Yogurt –
Plain (or flavored!) greek/soy yogurt makes a great addition to any smoothie/shake. It adds a slight tang, as well as thickness and creaminess. It also ups the protein by quite a bit, which will increase the length of time that it will keep you full. That’s always a good thing. :)
Other Frozen Ingredients –
Another good tip is to freeze any other ingredients you may be using! If you’re making a pumpkin shake, then freeze the pumpkin the night before. If it’s a carrot cake smoothie, freeze the carrots. It requires a bit of thinking ahead, but it’s worth it! It’s a great way to add volume and coldness without using ice, which waters it down. You can also freeze the aforementioned yogurt/soy yogurt.
Silken Tofu –
Mori-Nu Silken Tofu is the only kind of tofu I will put in a smoothie! It’s also the only kind I will use in a dessert. The aseptic container, which is found on the shelf, tastes so much better in things like these. In my opinion, the refrigerated kind in water is for cooking savory things, and the boxed, silken tofu is for desserts. I usually add about 1/3 of a block to my smoothie, and I also reduce the liquid by 1/4 – 1/2 cup. Just play with it and see what you like. Adding tofu to a smoothie is great, because it gives it more protein! It also makes it thicker, spoonable and more mousse-like.
Xanthan/Guar Gums –
There’s a lot of controversy over whether or not xanthan/guar gums are “good” or not. You only use about 1/4/ – 1/2 tsp at a time, but neither of them are entirely natural, so you can decide for yourself. If you choose to use them, the gums will add incredible volume and creaminess to your shake. Guar makes things creamy, (which is why you can sometimes find it as an ingredient in coconut milk/ice cream) and xanthan makes things thick. Deb @ SmoothieGirlEatsToo wrote a great post about the gums.
Well I guess that about sums it up! Like I said, all of these tips come from my own experience, but feel free to give it a shot and tell me your opinion! Use any one (or multiple) of the thickeners listed above, and see if it helps!
For some awesome smoothie recipes, visit these ladies…
- Angela @ Oh She Glows (scroll down to get to Smoothies)
- Kath’s Dough Boy Smoothies
- Ashley’s Smoothies (scroll down to get to Smoothies)
- And you have GOT to check out Kathy’s page of absolutely incredible smoothies/shakes! She has got it down.
Question of the Day: What are your favorite smoothie-making tips? What can you not live without in your smoothies? What about your favorite recipe?
Thanks for reading!
P.S. The winner of the Miessence Giveaway is comment number #32, Liz @ IHeartVegetables! Congratulations, Liz! Send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward it onto Jessica. Thanks to everyone who entered!