Here at Vega, we sure love our smoothies. We love to talk about them, swap recipes, compare notes, get creative with nutritional add-ins and even document them with photos and blog posts. Perhaps obsessed would be a more appropriate word for our feelings about smoothies and everything they stand for. Yet in all this smoothie chat, we may have gotten ahead of ourselves—it’s time to go back to basics. Smoothiology class is now in session.
What is a smoothie?
(Or more importantly, what isn’t?)
Starting with the basics, a smoothie can have many definitions. Skipping past this one: “a person who has a winningly polished manner”—a smoothie is defined by dictionary.com as “a thick beverage of fruit pureed in blender with ice and milk, yogurt, or juice.” Because this common definition is pretty generic, it’s easy to see how smoothies often get equated with their dessert-like cousin, the milkshake. Let’s make an important distinction: milkshake and smoothie are not synonyms. For starters, a milkshake usually requires the addition of ice cream.
Even if you’ve skipped the milkshake, smoothies can still be deceptive. Smoothie stations and juice bars are popping up everywhere, but given the unclear definition noted above, buyers should beware. Many smoothies you’ll find at chain smoothie stores don’t have any real fruit at all—they can have a lot of sugar, a dash of food coloring, and a few artificial flavors to try to resemble something like a strawberry. Even the smoothies that do contain some actual fruit often are also mixed in with juice, sherbet, frozen yogurt, or another high-calorie or high-sugar beverage, leaving no room for the nutrients we were seeking in the first place.
Smoothies. They’re a nutrition thing.
Now that we’ve clarified what isn’t a smoothie, we can move on to defining the smoothie on our terms—and how to make a good one.
We can confidently put our stake in the sand and say that what distinguishes a smoothie from other blended drinks is the concept of nutritional value, rather than the form resulting from the tools used to make them. When we say smoothie, we typically mean a thick, nutrient dense beverage that also happens to taste delicious.
What makes a good smoothie?
Of course taste preferences vary, but for starters, it’s fair to abandon the assumption that smoothies have to be sweet—they can be savory, spicy or earthy, too! Smoothies also don’t need to be limited to fruit because many veggies work just as well.
Step 1: Meet the blender: Your new BFF
Yes, this is an optional step 1. You can just shake-and-go with Vega One™, Vega® Essentials, or Vega® Protein & Greens, water and a shaker cup, but if you have the time, a smoothie can be the way to go. While many of us are spoiled by too-expensive-to-mention blenders, even your average blender will do just fine. You may want to christen it with a name, since you two will be getting pretty friendly as the days go on.
Step 2: Pick your temp
The temperature you make your smoothie is also a personal preference, but we tend to like them pretty chill ourselves. If you like yours on the colder side, too and you’re using frozen fruit, you likely won’t need to add ice. And in winter months when fresh fruit (especially berries) are sparse, frozen fruit is a great option. If you’re using fresh produce, then a few ice cubes will help create that thick, smoothie consistency.
Step 3: Not so basic bases
Your choice of liquid is also open to creative interpretation. Water works just fine, as does a bit of rice or nut milk, or coconut water. Juice is also a popular (though potentially sugar-adding) choice of liquid. If you’re using fresh veggies—yes, you can throw some greens in with your fruit—you may need less liquid. As a general rule, whatever liquid you choose should be added in small amounts until you get your desired consistency.
Step 4: Bring in a boost
Step 5: Seek creative inspiration
We hereby give you permission to get a little crazy and experiment in the kitchen. Jalapeño, cilantro, mango—why not? If you’re feeling like a novice, head to the Vega Recipe Center for recipe inspiration.
Step 6: Sip and relax.
Now that you’ve added your chosen ingredients, blend for about a minute, and voila! Icy cold nutrition to go.
How do YOU make a smoothie?