The sweet, creaminess of a smoothie is proof that healthy eating doesn't mean deprivation. With the right combination of ingredients, you can pack a laundry list of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients into a drink that tastes like a decadent indulgence. Blend milk, fruit, vegetables and other ingredients, and pour your smoothie into a chilled glass for a sweet treat.
Prepare your ingredients. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables under cold, running water to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Put fragile fruit, such as blueberries and raspberries, in a colander and spray them gently with cold water. Remove the peels, pits and seeds from peaches, apricots, mangoes and other large fruits.
Pour a base liquid into the blender. Low-fat milk is one calcium-rich option, but soy and almond milk are also good choices. You'll need about one cup of milk for every serving of smoothie.
Add protein. Made correctly, healthy smoothies make a filling snack or meal. Cottage cheese and Greek-style yogurt are both high in protein, but choose low-fat or skim varieties to limit saturated fat. Another option is peanut butter which has 4 grams of protein per tablespoon.
Blend in a cup of produce. For a thick smoothie, use a 1:1 ratio of fruits and vegetables to liquid. Traditional smoothie fruits include antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries and other sweet fruits such as peaches, bananas and mango. If you're feeling daring, add a dark leafy green. Spinach and kale are both excellent sources of folate and vitamin C. Avocado will make your smoothie extra creamy and add heart-healthy dietary fiber.
Add your own special ingredient. Smoothies are incredibly versatile beverages which will accommodate some unusual, healthy extras you might not otherwise eat. Each time you whip up a drink, add a little of something new. For instance, you might include a tablespoon of flaxseed -- an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids -- or a scoop of fiber-rich oatmeal.
Fruit may be enough to sweeten your smoothie, but if you'd like a little more sugar, add a drizzle of honey or agave nectar. One hundred percent fruit juice is another option.
To give your smoothie a slushy consistency, freeze the fruit first or blend in a handful of crushed ice.
Avoid unpasteurized fruit juices which may contain salmonella or E.coli bacteria.