How to Make Your Own Smoothies: A Basic Formula and Some Healthy Recipes

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It’s been an incredibly stressful year for me so far, mostly because my migraine seems to have become chronic. Not only is the pain debilitating, but its brain-fog wreaks havoc with my professional life, making it virtually impossible to write, which causes me even more depression and anxiety than the migraine itself does. My migraine is accompanied by nausea, and if you don’t eat regularly when you have migraine, you could trigger more attacks. To stay hydrated and eat in a healthy way with migraine, I’ve been depending more on smoothies. I’ve made my own smoothies for years, but to avoid boredom, I keep inventing new variations. I start with a basic formula for smoothies, adding different fruits or other ingredients every time I make one. It’s easy to make your own smoothies once you have the basic formula, and I encourage you to experiment to see which flavors you like best. I’m still experimenting with savory smoothies, but I’ve mastered some of the sweeter ones, and have been having them daily. Here’s how to make them yourself.

Basic Smoothie Recipe
1 C cold liquid
¼-½ C low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
1-2 C frozen fruit, divided into at least two types: one tart, one sweeter

For the liquids, you can use milk, soy milk, almond milk, water, iced green or white tea, iced rooibos tea, iced black tea, etc. The milks add some texture, but I don’t detect much of a flavor change. I most often use water or (low-caffeine) iced tea, if only because I like the fruit flavor to shine and because I don’t drink milk. I use organic green, white, or rooibos iced tea if it’s later in the day, so that I won’t be kept awake by the caffeine. If you want to use kefir for the liquid, reduce the yogurt to ¼ cup or the smoothie will be too sour.

Although all of these smoothie recipes also work with fresh fruit and are very good, they won’t be thick with fresh fruit, even if it’s cold. A few ice cubes will thicken a fresh-fruit drink slightly: too many will water the flavor down. That’s why I prefer frozen fruit to ice cubes. Be sure to use fruit you have sliced/diced and frozen yourself, or purchase frozen fruit that has no added sugar or sulfites.

I always add frozen bananas to my smoothies, not only for their high magnesium content, but because they add a fine lower note to any other frozen fruits, keeping the smoothie from becoming too sweet. The more frozen fruit you add, the more like ice cream the smoothie will be. I’ve been known to make them so thick, they’re more like frozen yogurt or soft-serve ice cream and have to be eaten with a spoon.

Optional Ingredients,
for Migraine

The following optional ingredients are those I’ve learned to add for migraine. The crystalized ginger reduces nausea and vomiting, although I admit that I’m very fond of ginger, especially the sweet-hot taste of the crystallized version. All the other optional ingredients contain high magnesium, which ostensibly helps prevent migraine. Though any magnesium deficit would be difficult to address by diet alone, i.e., without supplements, there’s no harm in your eating these ingredients whether or not you have migraine since high-magnesium foods also help with other health issues, such as insomnia or leg cramps.

Optional Ingredients

½ C frozen banana
½ C uncooked, old-fashioned oatmeal
½ fresh, unfrozen avocado (adds smoothness and gives a silky texture: no noticeable taste)
3-5 large slices crystalized ginger (or 2 large slices fresh ginger or ⅛ t ground organic ginger)

If you choose to add the uncooked, old-fashioned oatmeal to any smoothie, reduce the fruit by ½ cup. You can always add a bit more fruit in after you’ve blended it the first time.

To Make the Smoothie

Put your choice of liquid and yogurt into blender. If you are using the avocado, oatmeal, or ginger, it works best to add these now. Blend until smooth.

Add frozen fruit. Blend again, using “pulsing” smoothie feature or “pulsing” manually, turning blender off every 15-30 seconds to stir the ingredients with a silicone spatula to prevent frozen fruit from jamming the blades. Blend until smooth. If too thick, add a bit more liquid. If too thin, add a bit more frozen fruit.

Makes approximately 3 C smoothie, which is one very large serving, with a few sips left over; or 2 medium servings, or 3 small.

You should drink the smoothie immediately after blending. If you cannot drink the entire thing and store it in the refrigerator, the drink will thin and separate: you may have to add more frozen bananas and blend again before drinking. All of these smoothies freeze well (in plastic containers) overnight, can be thawed for an hour or two in the refrigerator, and eaten the next day.

Spiced Mango Smoothie

Smoothie Recipes

Spiced Mango Smoothie
1 C water, iced tea, or soy milk
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 ½ C frozen, diced mango
½ C frozen, sliced bananas
5-7 large slices crystalized ginger )or 2-3 large slices fresh ginger or ⅛-¼ t ground organic ginger
½ t (Vietnamese) cinnamon
⅛ t organic, ground, ancho chile powder

Mango-Peach Smoothie
1 C water, iced tea, or soy milk
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 C frozen, diced mango
1 C frozen, sliced peaches
5-7 slices crystallized ginger or 2 large slices fresh ginger or ⅛ t ground organic ginger)

Ginger-Peach Smoothie

Ginger-Peach Smoothie
1 C water, iced tea, or soy milk
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 ½ C frozen, sliced peaches
½ C frozen, sliced bananas
7-10 slices crystallized ginger (or 3 large slices fresh ginger or ¼ t ground organic ginger)

Orange-Mango Smoothie
1 C orange juice
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 ½ C frozen, diced mango
½ C frozen, sliced bananas
5-7 large slices crystallized ginger (or 2-3 large slices fresh ginger or ⅛-¼ t ground organic ginger)

Orange-Peach Smoothie
1 C orange juice
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 ½ C frozen sliced peaches
½ C frozen sliced bananas

Pineapple-Orange Smoothie
1 C orange juice
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 ½ C frozen sliced pineapple
½ C frozen sliced bananas

Tropical Island Smoothie
1 C orange juice
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
¾ C frozen, diced mango
¾ C frozen, diced pineapple
½ C frozen, sliced bananas

Blueberry Smoothie

Blueberry Smoothie
1 C water, iced tea, or soy milk
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 ½ C frozen blueberries
½ C frozen banana slices

Pink Blueberry Smoothie
1 C water, iced tea, or soy milk
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 C frozen blueberries
1 C frozen strawberries or raspberries, or ½ C each strawberries and raspberries

Black-and-Blue Berry Smoothie
1 C water, iced tea, or soy milk
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
¾ C frozen blueberries
¾ C frozen blackberries
½ C frozen banana slices

Peach-Lime Smoothie
1 C limeade
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
½ fresh avocado
1 ½ C frozen sliced peaches
½ C frozen sliced bananas

Peach-Lemonade Smoothie
1 C lemonade
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 ½ C frozen sliced peaches
½ C frozen sliced bananas

Mango-Lemonade Smoothie
1 C lemonade
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 ½ C frozen, diced mango
½ C frozen sliced bananas

Lemonade Iced Tea Smoothie
½ C lemonade
½ C iced tea
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 C frozen, sliced bananas

Lemon-Lime Smoothie
½ C limeade
½ C lemonade
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 ½ C frozen, sliced bananas

Peanut Butter Smoothie

Peanut Butter Smoothie
1 C water, iced tea, or soy milk
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
½ C frozen, sliced bananas
1 C smooth peanut butter

Coffee Smoothie
1 C cold, unsweetened coffee
¼ C milk, soy milk, or almond milk
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
½ fresh avocado (optional, but provides silky texture)
2 C frozen, sliced bananas
1 t espresso powder

Mocha Coffee Smoothie
1 C cold, unsweetened coffee
¼ C milk, soy milk, or almond milk
½ C low-fat, low sugar, plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
½ fresh avocado (optional, but provides silky texture)
2 C frozen, sliced bananas
1 T malted milk powder, dissolved in hot water before adding to liquids
1 t espresso powder
1 t cocoa

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