So when it comes to trying your hand at learning how to make a smoothie at home, you might be thinking its fairly simple, you just need some fruit, maybe some greens and supplements if you want, and a blender, voila!
While in some respects this is indeed true, there are a number of factors to consider when you want to make different types of smoothie recipes.
This is particularly true if you want to get a much more consistent smoothie as you would get in a juice bar or coffeehouse.
How do you make smoothies at home?
There are a number of ways to go about making a smoothie at home, but generally there are a few different important factors are taken to consideration when tackling any type of smoothie project whether it’s something as simple as a fresh fruit smoothie, or something that is a bit more involved like a green smoothie.
These are the three basic factors you need to take into consideration:
- Type of blender
- Frozen or Fresh Ingredients
- Supplements, Sweeteners, and other Additives
What Type of Blender Should You Use?
First let’s tackle what I consider to be the MOST important feature if you are serious about making the very best smoothies, and with the greatest of ease. If you are going to blend anything to a fine consistency, you need to make sure that you are using a high-powered blender that can emulsify the toughest and most fibrous produce, as well as handle frozen ice and produce which can be really tough on a typical consumer blender and wear it out within weeks, months, and even days depending on the blender.
You CAN use blenders beyond the two models/brands that I will reccomend here, but be forewarned that in my experience, and in the case of many others I have helped, not only does the smoothie not come out quite as consistent as it could be (while good enough for some folks, depending on personal preference and taste), but often the blender will break down after a short amount of time and need to be replaced. So my advice try out the cheaper blender if you just want to get your hands wet in making your first of these, but if you’re going to be definitely making them on a regular basis you want to get one of these two models:
- The Blendtec Total Blender
- The Vita-Mix
Vita-Mix Pros and Cons:
- The Vita-mix can replace up to ten different appliances because it can do food processing to some degree.
- It has a BPA free plastic carafe and as many of you may or may not know, BPA is a known carcinogen at the Department of Health has expressed some concern over, needless to say we don’t want this in our smoothies
- It has a powerful motor that can generally chew up anything you throw at it.
- It has been a reliable brand for decades
- Has manual controls for folks who want more precise control over how and when there smoothies blend.
- Can be quite difficult to clean up. While they advertise that all you have to do is pour water in along with some small dish soap and turn it on. Many people have not found this to be the case.
- Has a narrow base with sharp blades which not only can make cleaning extra hazardous and annoying, but it can also make getting the last bit of your smoothie difficult with a silicone spatula or similar tool you might want to use.
- Is not THE most powerful blender currently on the market anymore and as a result tends to make a less consistent smoothie compared to its main competitor the Blendtec “Total Blender”.
- Requires a separate carafe for dry emulsifying and food processing and a separate carafe for liquid or “wet” blending and processing.
- Like the Blendtec, it can be prohibitively expensive for those of you on a budget, both blenders tend to retail for around $400 dollars for the standard models. (I think it is worth the cost, and everyone I know who has used them agrees and won’t go back).
- Some people find the manual controls annoying, and would prefer to simply have a “smoothie” button, or something similar.
- Requires a “Tamper” or basically a “pushing stick” to push down the contents you are blending, this can be messy and a hassle.
Blendtec Total Blender Pros and Cons:
- The Blendtec Total Blender uses an attractive and simple all digital LCD display with numerous default settings that include but are not
limited to ice cream, grinding, smoothies, and XL smoothies to name a few. This makes blending an absolute breeze and is one of my favorite features.
- It also has a manual “pulse” button you can hold down to manually blend anything.
- The carafe on this blender is also BPA free like the Vita-mix.
- All Blendtec carafes of any size can be used both with dry blending and processing as well as liquid and wet too.
- It has the most powerful motor in a consumer blender on the market, and can really pulverize anything you put into it providing you have enough liquid to blend with. Nearly identical Blendtec brand blenders are used at places like Starbucks and juice bars like Robeks and Jamaba Juice.
- These Blenders will give you the most consistent and “smooth” smoothie you can get at home, it is used by the pros after all!
- Both carafes are easy to clean up, with the larger of the two being easier due to a wider base. You can use soap and water to manually clean it or put soap and water in the blenders and pulse it to clean the carafe. This actually works much better in the Blendtec’s case then the Vita-mix’s generally.
- All carafes use strong but not “sharp” two pronged blades that are hand safe when you are looking to scoop out or handle the left over food contents below or around the blades.
- Does not require a “tamper” as the design of the carafe is such where the contents will generally get sucked down into a vortex and blend by itself.
- Square design of carafe makes it allot easier to scrap off left over smoothie so you can get the most out of your smoothie mixture!
- Like the Vita-Mix, the Blendtec can be prohibitively expensive for most folks, even if they do recognize the value of having a blender like this. However, they can be less expensive then the Vita-Mix’s in many cases, and therefor are often the better buy no matter what.
- The carafes can be expensive to replace as the blades and carafe are one whole piece and therefor can cost 90$+ dollars.
- The basic smaller carafe that comes standard is not in my judgement sufficient enough as it tends to be less efficient at blending quickly and evenly compared to its bigger 96 ounce cousin. Therefor if you want the best blending experience, you will need to buy a pricier model that comes with the larger carafe. (it’s very very worth it).
I think it’s fairly clear to see that while I think both blenders will get the job done far better then the cheaper and more common commercially available blenders, that the Blendtec wins hands down as the all time champ. It is easier to clean, makes a far more consistent smoothie every time, is easier to use, and has a much more user friendly carafe. It is the only blender I use and I reccomend everyone put the funds away needed to buy this wondrous machine.
Frozen or Fresh Produce?
If you have a more lower powered blender or simply find the taste of fresh fruit more appealing then going with mostly fresh produce might be the way you want to go. Keep in mind however, that fresh produce will only keep for a short amount of time in the fridge, and this can lead to wasted produce if not used in time.
Fresh produce tends to be easier to blend and often requires less sweeteners to bring out the fruit and juice flavors, often you can get away with using little extra sweetener and juice, as you could just water and still have a sweet tasting smoothie. Also keep in mind you will need to add ice if you want a colder or more ice cream like consistency.
Frozen produce tends to be much harder to blend and may require more liquid to process and multiple smoothie cycles as well. By putting in only a serving or two of produce in at a time, you can get all of the frozen produce properly emulsified. You will likely want to use juice or a blend of juice and water as your base liquid to bring out the sweetness of the fruits (and possible greens/veggies) should you so desire.
The benefits of using frozen fruit is that even when you make a smoothie at home, you can have it with an ice cream or milkshake consistency which many people enjoy. Plus the obvious benefit is that you can store and keep your produce for a long time, which may allow for you to make smoothies on a far more regular basis which is crucial if you are doing this for health. The fact is, it’s simply more convenient then fresh. These smoothies tend to require additional sweeteners though, so be sure to add the appropriate amount relative to your tastes.
What about Supplements, Additives, and Sweeteners?
I will keep this last section pretty short, as there are simply too many of all three things to list and reccomend. But I do have a handful of general and specific recommendations:
- Always use organic green Stevia powder when you make smoothies at home for a natural and healthy 0 calorie sweetener. You can also use agave syrup too but it is not calorie friendly like the Stevia.
- I usually recommend adding flax seed oil to the smoothie so that you can help increase the uptake of fat soluble vitamins with your smoothie, plus omega 3′s are an absolute essential for your overall health.
- I really like the SunWarrior brand of powdered supplements for those of you who wish to use these types of products. I often reccomend using there protean supplement for those of you who struggle to get enough bio available protean, or any at all for that matter. Along with the flax oil, you really start to approach creating a very filling and satisfying meal replacement, in addition to being simply a tasty and healthy treat.
- You can also add Dulce Flakes for additional fiber and nutrients, along with many other valuable supplements I go into elsewhere on the site.
- Always blend your sweeteners and supplements last, after you have sufficiently blended the core produce. This way you are more likely to get your sweeteners and supplements more evenly distributed.