Smart Smoothies: Feed Your Body the Healthy Way

Now that the weather is warmer, many people are looking for quick, refreshing ways to get in the nutrients they need. Smoothies are a natural choice, but there are specific ways to make them to ensure you’ll get the most benefits.

“The benefits of smoothies are endless,” said Leslie Spruill, University of Alabama nutrition intern. “Most can be made in less than five minutes. They’re great for on-the-go, and, when prepared with good nutrition in mind, they can be full of vitamins, minerals and fiber.”

Huggins recommends choosing or preparing a smoothie with a goal of incorporating as many good groups as possible – fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and low-fat dairy, with a small amount of healthy fat.

And beware the potential pitfalls.    

UA Nutrition Student and future registered dietitian nutritionist Leslie Spruill’s “Pink Power Smoothie” is a refreshing, balanced drink that offers balanced nutrition.

“Smoothies bought from an eatery often have added sugars, which increase empty calories. This gives the beverage more calories, but it’s lacking in good nutrition,” adds Cindy Huggins, registered dietitian nutritionist.

Per the USDA Choose My Plate website, fruit juice, sugar of any kind, syrup, honey, and dairy desserts such as ice cream are each considered an added sugar. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans reduced the

amount of added sugars to less than 10 percent of daily calories. For example, a person who consumes a 2000 calorie diet would need to limit added sugars to less than 200 calories.

Spruill designed a great summer smoothie that she said is long on nutrition and flavor.  

“Summer is here, and this smoothie makes a perfect tropical treat,” she said. “Not only is it beautiful and tasty, but it is also packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.”

When making a nutrient-rich smoothie, aim to choose an ingredient from each of the following groups:

Greens: (½ to 2 cups) spinach, kale, chard, mixed baby greens

Liquid: (1 cup) low-fat milk, water, unsweetened almond milk / coconut milk, coconut water, 100% fruit juice (No sugar added)

Fresh Fruit: (up to 1 cup) banana, pineapple, berries, orange (peeled)

Frozen Fruit: (up to 1 cup) strawberries, blueberries, mixed berries, peaches, cherries, mango, pineapple, ice

Protein / Fat: ½ cup Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon nut butter or heart healthy oil, ½ cup cottage cheese, 1 scoop protein powder, 2 tablespoons avocado

Grains: ¼ cup Rolled Oats

Boosters: (Optional) ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon chia Seeds or flax seeds, up to 1 tablespoon honey

Pink Power Smoothie

Serving Size: 1 cup

Makes 2 servings


1/3 cup Frozen Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)

1/3 cup Frozen Peaches

1/3 cup Frozen Pineapple

1/2 Banana

3/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk

1/4 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 Tbsp. Avocado


Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Note:  This recipe was developed for a fruity snack option, to make it a meal replacement choose a ¼ cup protein source to add in.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 95 kcal

Total Fat: 3.5 g

Total Carbohydrate: 17 g 

Sugars: 11 g

Dietary Fiber: 3 g

Protein: 1.5 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sodium: 10 mg 



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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.



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