I love a good smoothie, especially this time of year.
When it’s hot outside and I don’t feel like eating a big meal, I know that drinking a smoothie is a great way for me to get a healthy dose of protein, fiber and fats while also reaping the nutritional benefits of fruits, veggies and greens.
Even though smoothies can be an amazing part of your diet, the reality is not all smoothies are good for you.
Fruit smoothies, for example, may be a fantastic way to get a bunch of produce into a single meal but when you throw in a mango, a cup of strawberries and a banana, you’ve quickly turned your healthy beverage into a sugar bomb.
That sugar bomb may taste amazing but consuming all of that sugar at one time will eventually leave you feeling fatigued and “hangry.”
I know that feeling all too well which is why I’ve started making my smoothies without fruit.
That’s right….I don’t put any fruit in my smoothies and they still taste amazing.
Because fruits have become synonymous with smoothies, trying to find the right balance when you’re not using fruit can take some planning and also some creativity.
I have found that the key to making a delicious fruit-free smoothie is using different “filler” ingredients in order to mimic the creaminess and sweetness of fruit.
The nice thing about using fillers is that they allow you to mix and match the ingredients to achieve the desired flavor and consistency.
The sky is truly the limit when it comes to filler ingredients. You can use nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables, unsweetened yogurt and whole grains.
I know it sounds crazy to add beans and vegetables to your smoothie but trust me, they will make your smoothie sweet, creamy and delicious.
And the great thing about using vegetables to bulk up your drink is you’ll naturally be getting less sugar. You’ll also be getting more antioxidants, fiber and other vital nutrients.
I have learned through trial and error that making a great smoothie starts with how you layer in the ingredients.
First, you want to start with a liquid base. You can use water, dairy-free milk, tea or coconut water. If you’re using a non-dairy milk as your base, always choose one that is unsweetened. I love Ripple Unsweetened Original plant based milk. It has 8 grams of protein and zero grams of sugar.
Next, add in powders like cacao powder, protein powder, flax meal and spices. Adding powders into the liquid will help them dissolve.
Now you’re ready to add fresh leafy greens like kale, spinach and fresh herbs. Adding greens close to the blade ensures they get thoroughly pureed.
Lastly, add the filler ingredients. Frozen vegetables such as zucchini and cauliflower rice should be the last thing you put in so they will weigh down the mixture for better blending.
When you’ve got everything in, you’re ready to blend!
The recipe below is a template for a basic smoothie without fruit. This is the recipe that I use and I vary the ingredients depending on what’s in my fridge.
If you’re not quite ready to go “fruit-free,” you can certainly add some fruit as long as you make sure you’re not adding tons of it to one shake.
Two bananas can add 30 grams of sugar so it’s best to stick with frozen berries which are a great low sugar option. Or, you can toss in one or two dates and see how you like that.
Whether you decide to go fruit-free or simply cut back on the amount of fruit in your smoothie, let yourself be open to a new taste experience. I think you’re going to love it!
Easy Fruit-Free Smoothie
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk, unsweetened
1/2 medium avocado
1/2 cup frozen zucchini or cauliflower
Handful of spinach
2 tablespoons nut butter
1 scoop unsweetened vanilla protein powder or 2 scoops collagen powder
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup water, if needed
4-6 ice cubes (optional)
cacao nibs, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, hemp seeds
1. Add all of the ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. To serve, pour the smoothie into a glass and top with garnish.