top of page

How To Build Nutritious Smoothies (Do's & Don't!)

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Smoothies can be a nutritious and satisfying way to help you get your five-or-more-a-day. Research has shown benefit in consuming more than the governments recommended five-a-day. If you can, aim for 7 per day - that is 5 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit.

Vegetables and fruit are an excellent source of dietary fibre which can help to maintain a healthy gut. Plus, they provide vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that help to manage inflammation, and support the immune and detoxification systems.

Smoothies can be a great way to start the day and are perfect if you are short on time, as they are quick and simple to make. The ideal healthy smoothie will have a blend of good fats and protein, a helping of vegetables for maximum nutrition and some fruit for sweetness.

This blog post outlines the basics of smoothie making and includes a few combinations to try for yourself. As well as being nutritious for breakfast, smoothies can be useful alongside a small meal, as a snack or pre/post exercise.

Benefits Of Smoothies

  • An easy way to help increase vegetable intake, and in particular to add vegetables to breakfast.

  • Raw foods are generally more enzyme and nutrient-rich, but they are also harder to digest. Blending is a great way to make raw foods more digestible, and helps you absorb more nutrients.

  • Smoothies are high in fibre as they are a blend of the whole vegetable, so they help maintain healthy blood sugar balance more so than juices, which just extract the juice and throw away the pulp.

  • Smoothie ingredients can all be prepared in advance, kept in the fridge and then blended when needed to provide a fast meal or snack.

Potential Drawbacks

  • They can be high in sugar if you pick the balance of ingredients incorrectly. Drinking a large fruit smoothie can lead to blood sugar spikes if there is too much fruit, or if the fruit is not balanced with healthy fats and protein.

  • Commercial smoothies tend to have a base of fruit juice so should be avoided.

Smoothie History

Mediterranean and eastern cultures have been creating pureed beverages, which we now call smoothies for hundreds of years. When the blender was introduced in the 1900s, homes all over the world soon began to enjoy the benefits of this nutritious fruit drink. Smoothies rose to popularity in the 1960s and 1970s when more people became interested in natural health foods.

Building A Nutritious Smoothie

Step 1: Choose Your Base

To begin, you’ll need to have some liquid in your blender. The more liquid you add the runnier your smoothie will be. Some people like it this way, but if you prefer a thicker consistency, use slightly less liquid and create a smoothie bowl, which can be eaten with a spoon. I don’t recommend using dairy milk, soya milk, or fruit juices as the base of smoothies.

Good bases include:

  • Water (filtered if possible)

  • Unsweetened dairy free milk such as hemp, coconut, almond, or hazelnut

  • Almond yoghurt or coconut yoghurt

  • Chilled herbal tea such as green tea, lemon or ginger

  • Juice of one lemon, plus water

Alternatively, you may prefer to use a vegetable with a high water content as your base such as:

  • Cucumber: high in water, cucumbers have a barely-there flavour and contain high levels of nutrients. Try 1/4 - 1/2 of a cucumber per smoothie.

  • Celery: again celery is high in nutrients, making it a great smoothie base. Celery also contributes the protection of the stomach lining and has anti-inflammatory properties. Try 1/2 - 2 celery stalks per smoothie.

Step 2: Add a Little Sweetness

To ensure your smoothie is palatable, as well as nutritious. You may like to add some natural sweetness from fruits, such as mixed berries, banana, zesty fruits.

My favourite natural sweeteners for smoothies include (choose one):

  • Mixed berries. Berries are packed with antioxidants, vitamin K, fibre, and vitamin C, and are also lower in sugar than many other fruits. I use frozen berry mixes with blackcurrants, red currants, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Use 1/4 cup - 1/2 cup per smoothie.

  • Pineapples contains a wealth of nutrients, including bromelain, a protein digesting enzyme that has been found effective in digestive health, pain relief, and inflammation. Pineapples are also a rich source of fibre. However, they are high in sugar, so use in small amounts. Use 1/4 cup per smoothie.

  • Lemons and limes. If your lemon or lime is unwaxed and organic, you may want to add some of the zest to your smoothie. The zest contains even higher levels of nutrients than the juice. Citrus fruits contain good amounts of vitamin C, which supports the immune system.

Step 3: Veggies, Spices and Greens

To make sure you are getting the most out of your smoothie, bulk it out with vegetables or leafy greens. Kale will give your smoothie that rich green colour whilst also packing in heaps of vitamins and minerals. Not only will spices add a punch of flavour, they also come packed with beneficial nutritional properties.

Choose any of the following for added nutrition and flavour:

  • Cruciferous, vegetables, cabbage, broccoli, broccoli sprouts and cauliflower have an incredible ability to mop up toxins from our body. Try to include them in your diet where possible - in your smoothies they can be added raw or steamed lightly. NOTE: If you suffer with low thyroid function, they are best steamed rather than eat raw.

  • Ginger, historically ginger has been used to aid and soothe digestion, as well as relieve the symptoms of nausea. Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds known as gingerols.

  • Herbs and spices. All are high in nutrients, but often very strong in flavour. Start by adding half a teaspoon and adjust to your taste experiment with your favourite flavours and note down the quantity you use so you can replicate it next time.

    • Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants, contains anti-inflammatory properties and is considered supportive of blood sugar control.

    • Nutmeg is commonly associated with pain relief due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Nutmeg is also considered beneficial to digestive health, brain function, and it’s packed with antioxidants.

  • Leafy greens, kale, watercress, rocket, spinach, dandelion, leaves, lettuce, and chard are all rich in folate, vitamin C and magnesium. They are great detoxification supports. Green leafy vegetables are also rich and beta carotene which can be converted into vitamin A, important for immune function.

  • Superfoods: we use this term sparingly, but things like cacao, açai, spirulina, and more have all become known as super foods in the media due to their exceptionally high levels of nutrients, Spirulina, for example, is rich in antioxidants, and has anti-inflammatory, immune supportive and cholesterol reductive properties.

The key to the perfect smoothie is experimenting and practice. You'll find that different flavours and spices compliment each other, whilst others can really clash.


Beetroot Brain Boost

  • 1 small-medium beetroot

  • 1 heaped tbsp cashew butter

  • 100g coconut yogurt

  • 1/2 cup mixed frozen berries

  • 1 tsp acai powder

  • 1 scoop protein powder

  • 250ml filtered water

Anti-Inflammatory Twist

  • 5g fresh turmeric root or 2 tsp ground turmeric

  • 5g fresh root ginger

  • Pinch ground black pepper (helps the turmeric absorb!)

  • 1/4 cup pineapple

  • Juice 1/2 lime

  • 1 handful kale

  • 1/2 avocado

  • 1 tsp broccoli powder

  • 1 scoop protein powder

  • 200ml filtered water

Choc Cherry Combo

  • 1/4 cup frozen pitted cherries (or any frozen berries)

  • 1/2 cup chopped or grated courgettes

  • 1 handful dark leafy green of your choice (e.g. chard, kale, cavolo nero)

  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder (try and get hold of this rather than standard cocoa powder, trust me you’ll notice the difference!)

  • 1 scoop protein powder

  • 1 large tbsp seed or nut butter

  • 250ml dairy free milk of choice

Top Tips

  1. Load your blender as so - liquid, fruit, vegetables and/or leafy greens, powders. This helps prevent the blade from getting damaged or clogged up. Blenders vary however, so please check the manufactures instructions.

  2. If you notice your bananas turning brown, peel and chop them up, put them in a container and freeze. You can use these banana chunks in smoothies - it makes them extra creamy!

  3. Once you've found your favourite recipes, try freezing your vegetables and fruits together in ready-to-use portions.

Next Steps

Hi I'm Molly, I'm a UK-based Nutritional Therapist (DipION, mBANT, CNHC) and Self-Compassion Coach (MSc) serving my community in Harpenden and online. Here in my little online home, you'll discover the benefits of nutritional therapy and complementary therapies for autoimmune disease and chronic illness.

Want to understand more about nutrition for autoimmune diseases? Download my free recipe book and discover 12 Nutritionist-Certified Recipes to Help Alleviate the Symptoms of Autoimmunity & Chronic Illness.

If you’re ready to take the next step, please book a FREE mini consultation

In this appointment, we will discuss your goals, any symptoms that you would like to address and relevant medical history that you think I should know about.

Together, we will decide whether this is the right step for you.


bottom of page