10 Surprising Foods You Can Put In Your Smoothies


Smoothies are a popular drink for many reasons: They’re easy to prepare, healthy and nutritious, and you can drink them on the go. Made with fruit, yogurt, and juices, they’re a delicious way to get a quick boost of energy and nutrition before you head out the door for a long day. Since they’re often sweet and creamy, kids usually like them, which make them perfect for getting them something healthy when they may otherwise eat only chicken nuggets.

The problem with smoothies is that they can become boring. You can only drink the same strawberry banana smoothie for breakfast so many days in a row before you finally have to stop at the drive thru for a break. Luckily, there are ways to make new and interesting combinations using foods you may have never thought to put in a drink. Next time you’re looking for inspiration, try one of the following healthy additions for a drink you won’t forget!

1. Nuts

You’ve probably added peanut butter to your banana smoothie, but have you ever thought of adding pecans, walnuts, or cashews? Nuts give a healthy dose of protein and fiber, and they can add creaminess if you’re trying to give up dairy or soy. If you have a high-powered blender, you can simply add them in with your other ingredients and they’ll blend up nicely. If not, just soak the nuts in the liquid your using for a few minutes to soften them up. You can blend most seeds as well; so don’t leave out sunflower, flax, or pumpkin seeds. Also, try alternative nut butters like almond or cashew.

2. Dried Spices

A pinch of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, or even a pinch of something spicy like cayenne can take your smoothie to another flavor dimension. As a rule of thumb, the spice you choose should compliment the other flavors in your drink, and you definitely want to use a light hand. Cinnamon works well with apples, and cayenne can work nicely with mangos or even chocolate. Use your imagination; if you like the combos in a cooked dish, you’ll probably like it in a smoothie as well.

Only use powdered spices in your smoothies, as whole will likely be hard to blend and may overpower the other ingredients in your beverage.

3. Vegetables

The thought of putting vegetables in a smoothie may make you pause, but in truth, you won’t be able to taste most of them. Spinach is an easy one to start with because it’s so mild, but it’s also super nutritious. Simply add a handful of baby spinach leaves to your berry smoothie and you’ll get a nutritious boost without having to eat something you may not like. This works well with most leafy greens, but you can also add things like cooked sweet potatoes and squash, cucumbers, cabbage, and even broccoli. If you’re going to add strongly flavored veggies like broccoli, try using frozen; studies have shown that our taste buds are less sensitive to the flavors of frozen foods.

4. Skins

For most produce, the skin is the most nutritious part of the plant, so don’t peel it and throw it out. Leave the skins on your apples, pears, and kiwi. You may have to blend for a few seconds longer, but you’re saving time by not having to peel your fruit.

If you have a powerful blender, you can even blend the skins of mangos, avocados, and even lemons to turn your smoothie into an extra nutritious snack.

5. Dried Fruit

Dried fruit like dates, raisins, and cherries add antioxidants and flavor to your smoothies. Simply soak them for a few minutes to ease blending for something sweet and delicious. If health is a major concern, buy dried fruits with no added sugar, and use them sparingly; a little goes a long way. One or two dates can add significant sweetness to your drink while also adding fiber and nutrients that honey or other sweeteners don’t provide.

6. Beans

Beans add creaminess, fiber, and protein to your smoothie and if you use the right ones, you’ll never even know they’re in there. Choose cooked white beans, or chickpeas and make sure they are rinsed and drained really well. You don’t need to add a lot; about a quarter cup is enough for two smoothies without it becoming pasty.

Don’t be tempted to use dried beans, even in a powerful blender. You’ll end up with a lot of rock like particles that won’t taste good. Not only that, they very well could damage your blades.

7.  Grains

Oats, quinoa, or even more exotic grains like millet can be added to a smoothie to add protein, fiber, and creaminess. If you have a high-powered blender, you can add them raw, otherwise, add cooked grains like leftover oats from your breakfast. Try a variety; you’ll be surprised at the different flavors and textures various grains will add.

8. Cottage Cheese

Want to add creaminess to your smoothie without adding milk or yogurt? Try cottage cheese. It’s creamy when blended, high in protein and low in fat. It makes a great substitute when you’re out of your regular smoothie ingredients as well.

A half-cup of cottage cheese provides plenty of protein to help keep you feeling full. When paired with fruit, you’ve got a high fiber, high protein smoothie.

9. Tea

Tea makes a perfect addition to smoothies, especially if you don’t always like to drink it. Green tea in particular is great for smoothies, as it adds a subtle flavor and a whole host of antioxidants. If you’re going to add tea to your smoothies, simply brew it and store it in the fridge, or freeze it in ice cube trays and use those instead of frozen fruit or ice. Skip bottled or sweetened teas and go for fresh brewed for no calories and plenty of health benefits.

10. Fresh Herbs

Instead of throwing away fresh herbs you don’t know what to with after last night’s dinner, try throwing them in a smoothie for an added flavor treat. Rosemary pairs well with oranges, while basil makes strawberries and blueberries a flavorful summer affair. Think about the fruits and vegetables you see with fresh herbs in your favorite recipes for inspiration on how to use them up. Not only do they add a lot of flavor, but also many are loaded with antioxidants and detoxifying properties that help speed along weight loss and prevent disease. You can use dried herbs for a similar effect, but fresh are usually best.

Once you start experimenting with interesting and unusual ingredients, you’ll see that your morning smoothie has never been more fun or more nutritious.


Don’t limit yourself to these ingredients; if something will blend, it can probably be added to your smoothie to make it a unique drink. Just beware of ingredients that are high in sugar or processed foods; these are not only unhealthy but they can turn your “healthy” smoothie into nothing more than a run of the mill dessert like milkshake.

By adding different ingredients everyday, you’re maximizing the health benefits you get from plant foods, and keeping boredom at bay.

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