10 Surprising Add-Ins to Step Up Your Smoothie Game
Your smoothie ingredients don't have to be the same old list of produce items each week. Read on to find out how to revamp your blended breakfast with beans, cheese and other unexpected foods.
Piled with berries, spinach, yogurt—you name it—smoothies are one of the most delicious and nutritious breakfast options. (For more ideas check out these healthy breakfast recipes.) But with some creativity and open-mindedness, you can make your morning sipper that much tastier and healthier with these adventurous mix-ins and toppings.
Want to find the best blender for your smoothies? Our Test Kitchen compared the most popular brands to find the very best.
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Citrus Peels or Zest
The flesh of your favorite citrus fruits isn’t the only thing worth including in your smoothie. The peels provide fiber and vitamin C, in addition to a burst of freshness. Zest the exterior of the fruit and throw it on top of the smoothie, or incorporate into the drink during blending. And if you have a heavy-duty blender that can handle the entire rind or skin, go for it!
Ditch honey and other sweeteners because dried fruits, such as dates, raisins and dried cherries, can do the trick. These wonders are a healthy source of sugar that can keep you energized for hours. They also add antioxidants and a bit of flavor.
Pro tip: Soak the fruits before blending to ensure a smoother finished product.
Emphasis on the cooked! Cooked legumes can contribute protein, fiber and texture to your liquified breakfast. Uncooked legumes, on the other hand, will damage your appliances. Try sprinkling the peas or beans with spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg beforehand for another layer of flavor.
The possibilities here are endless. Crush up your favorite cereal and use them as a garnish for your finished beverage. Pick and choose the cereal based on your flavor profiles. For example, nutty smoothies go great with chocolate-flavored cereal, and fruity smoothies pair well with honey-flavored or glazed cereals.
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Coconut oil does it all. It’s been known to lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, kill bacteria and improve brain function. And because it’s full of healthy fats, it keeps you feelin’ full into the afternoon. Plus, it makes the smoothie extra silky. If you’re not into the recent coconut craze, sesame oil or olive oil can be used in its place.
It’s a dinnertime fave, so why not enjoy it in the morning, too? Our go-to ancient grain is chock full of fiber and protein and, because of this, makes your morning beverage that much more nutritious. If you’re not a fan of quinoa, opt for cooked oats, millet or other grains.
Don’t worry—we’re not talking cheddar. Soft cheeses, such as ricotta cheese and cottage cheese, pack protein in your drink without altering the flavor or texture too much. And don’t be afraid of fat. Full-fat or reduced-fat varieties will keep you full much longer than the fat-free versions will.
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Tea isn’t strictly for sipping on its own. Brew up a batch of your favorite-flavored tea and let it chill in the refrigerator over before adding it to your smoothie for a boost of nutrients and flavors. Or, freeze the beverage in ice trays and use the cubes in place of ice or other frozen ingredients.
If you think about it, this one’s not so out there. People plop a dollop of nut butter into their smoothies all the time. However, using freshly blended peanuts, cashews and almonds offer the same creaminess and flavor without all the unnecessary sugars and oils. Like your smoothies on the crunchy side? Finely dice the nuts rather than blending them and sprinkle them over top as a garnish.
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Raw Cacao Nibs
Chocolate lovers, rejoice! Cacao is chocolate in its purest form, meaning it still contains some of that much-loved flavor, but it’s also much healthier than its processed counterpart. These nifty niblets can add antioxidants, fiber, magnesium and potassium. Plus, it acts as a mood booster due to its effect on the brain’s neurotransmitters. And who couldn’t use a little of that in the morning?