Anatomy of a Smoothie aka Smoothie Making 101: Learn the Basics and Design Your Own Delicious and Healthy Creation

by Dr. Patricia

Throughout the past three decades of counseling thousands of patients on various aspects of nutrition,  it has become very clear that for many people a healthy breakfast or a quick meal seems to be a challenge. People are seeking sustained energy and blood sugar stability–not the highs and low that can come from the sugar and caffeine cycle.

An option for breakfast or a time when you don’t have the time or interest in sitting down to a proper meal can be enjoying a nutrient-dense smoothie.

I have savored many smoothies over the years, and I like experimenting in the kitchen. I am often asked for some of my favorite recipes.

There are many recipes and great ideas in many books and websites. I have attempted to write a few recipes myself, and then I realized what was stopping me:  I don’t follow recipes!  🙂  My approach is most likely informed by my Italian ancestry. I find recipes helpful as a starting point;  however  I often find myself “doctoring” them up. I actually love and have benefited so much from smoothies, so I want to share virtual recipe-free approach.

If you know the basic “anatomy” of a smoothie, you can enjoy the creativity of making smoothies your way. They can be a little different each time. Sometimes I am surprised at what I find in my kitchen that I end up putting in the smoothie. I often find that I can use some of the fruits and vegetables that might spoil otherwise.

The Basics:

The essentials of a smoothie consist of protein (powder), fat, and fruit and/or vegetables, and liquid.

Protein Powder:

When making a smoothie, it is important to choose a good protein powder. I am often researching and reading labels, and I often find a lot of sugar and other additives in many protein powders. I personally use protein powders that have very few ingredients–often one ingredient, the actual protein source.  I generally use collagen that is grass-fed, or if you want to go vegan pea, pumpkin, or hemp protein or some good options.

Healthy Fat:  You can add a tablespoon of nut butter (such as cashew, brazil, filbert, almonds) or unsweetened coconut flakes; another option is a third to a half of an avocado or a teaspoon of MCT oil.

Greens:  Ideally have fresh greens handy, and add a handful of greens such as dandelion greens, spinach, chard, arugula, endive, If you don’t have fresh greens handy, a scoop of an organic greens powder can be an option.

Fruit: Low glycemic fruit and/or a small amount of fruit can add a nice flavor, however don’t overdo it! Many patients who don’t think they are eating sugar describe their smoothies to me, and I find that they are loaded with sugar–as  they sometimes are loaded with fruit! Try limiting fruit to a handful of berries or sliced mango; you could also use acai (unsweetened).

Liquid: Options include: organic unsweetened “milks” such as coconut milk,  hemp milk, organic nut milk-  I usually use half non-dairy “milk” and half water,


More veggies: in addition to the above, I often add half a cucumber, several stalks of celery, or a chopped carrot

Herbs:  pick one: basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro etc.  – a pinch up to a handful; a great way of adding concentrated nutrient, often with antimicrobial, immune supportive properties.  Cilantro is known for its assistance to the body’s heavy metal detoxification processes.

Spices:   In the fall and winter I notice I want to warm up my smoothies, so I tend to sprinkle some spices such as, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and/or ginger. Other options throughout the year include turmeric, cardamom, allspice, anise, or any of your favorites.

“Superfoods”:  I usually pick one for each smoothie : hemp seeds, bee pollen, kefir, chia seeds, cacao, mushroom powders – i.e. reishi, chaga, – usually a teaspoon up to a tablespoon of each depending on the superfood potency


Avoid sweeteners: I recommend setting an intention to dissolve the desire for that sweet taste – my basic advice is have the smoothie as less sweet as possible while still enjoyable–and keep reducing sweetness to “retrain” your tastebuds. I remember years ago when my smoothies were loaded with fruit, and now they are not very sweet. They are loaded with vegetables and nutrient-dense foods, and my energy is much more vital and stable.

Blender: I use a VitaMix, but most high-performance blenders do the magic.

Room temperature vs. Cold:  Room temperature recommended except on very hot days; Following Chinese Medicine principles, cold foods are not recommended as they can weaken the digestive systems and aspects of the immune system.

I’d love to know about your adventures creating your own smoothies. Take a picture and show me on Instagram @drpatriciafitz  🙂

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