how to make the perfect smoothie

I've always had a strange love for drinking my meals instead of eating them. It started in high school, when we had to write down everything we ate for a week for health class. The assignment was to carefully measure portion sizes so we could correctly estimate the calories we were taking in. Naturally, I got tripped up when it came to entering my smoothie concoctions, and for the remainder of the year was known as "Smoothie" by my health teacher.

I've come a long way since then. My high school smoothie recipes usually consisted of sugary fruit juices, frozen fruit, and flavored yogurt. So, basically a sugar bomb. My main priority was sweetness, and sweetness was indeed achieved.

Research has taught me a few things about making a smoothie healthy, filling, and tasty:

+ too much fruit can get very carb-heavy, leading to a sugar crash later. Make sure to include high-quality protein either in the smoothie, or in a small snack along with the smoothie.

+ berries keep the smoothie low-calorie and low glycemic. Although I'm not opposed to a tropical fruit smoothie in the depths of a Florida summer, a berry mix is my go-to frozen fruit.

+ I throw in as many handfuls of spinach as my blender can handle to up my vegetable count for the day. Tasteless and nutritious.

+ Apple juice used to be my liquid base - bad idea! So acidic and sugary! I now stick with water for my liquid base. Almond milk or coconut water would work, too! 

Now that we live in Florida, smoothies are a staple during the summer months for the whole family. I love playing around with different fruits and ratios to achieve the perfect texture and taste. No matter what ingredients I'm using, though, I generally "build" my smoothie the same way every time:

Step 1

 - 8 ounces of water

Step 2

 - one cup mixed frozen fruit

- sometimes I add 1/2 frozen banana or avocado for creaminess

Step 3

 - 2-3 handfuls of spinach

Step 4

 - optional add-ins:

Hydrate electrolyte mix for flavor + vitamin boost, powdered greens to up the nutrition factor, PB2, flax seed, vanilla protein powder, unrefined coconut oil, fiber, and apple cider vinegar.

Step 5

- blend on low for 30 seconds, then on liquify for 30 seconds

Step 6

- serve with a straw and enjoy!

(If I'm sharing with my toddler, and I want to increase the volume, I add 4 oz water during Step 1, and 1/4 cup more berries and a banana during Step 2)

My two-year-old can't get enough of these, and often steals my drink if she finishes hers first. She's a really good eater, so I don't necessarily worry about her getting enough fruits and vegetables, but it never hurts to have a little insurance that tastes like a treat, too!

What are your favorite smoothie ingredients?