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5 Tips for Making (and Ordering) Low-Sugar Smoothies

December 27, 2018

Smoothies aren’t going anywhere. When something is this convenient and so good for packing in nutrition on-the-go, it sticks around in the recipe arsenal. If you’re not paying close attention, it’s easy to go overboard on sweet ingredients—even healthy ones, like whole fruit—and end up with a sugar bomb that can leave you not feeling so great. Here are some key ways to sip your way to delicious smoothie heaven without overdoing the sweet stuff.

Use these ideas to DIY your own, or to make everyone envious of your concoction at your local smoothie place.

Imagine a world beyond bananas.

So many smoothie recipes start with bananas. We love bananas—but they aren’t the only game in town. Frozen cauliflower florets lend creaminess, as does avocado. Try canned pumpkin or butternut squash for sweetness. And if you’re into zoodles, freeze the cores from spiralizing zucchini and toss them into your blender.

Get creative about your greens.

Add a generous handful of spinach or kale—but also try beet greens, romaine or butter lettuce, and celery. Cucumber is also a good addition—it’s hydrating and it lends a touch of sweetness (it is related to melons, after all). And fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, cilantro or mint, offer lots of flavor and also an added nutrient boost.

Choose fruit strategically.

Berries (including kiwi) are the lowest in sugar, so they’re a great choice. Green apples and citrus fruits also make a nice twist. Use more sugary fruits, like pineapple, mango or grapes, sparingly. Acai, usually sold frozen, is often sweetened because on its own it’s very tart. But it is available unsweetened, so if you see it, grab some for your freezer. Combine it with a little mango, guava or pineapple for a good balance of sugar levels and flavor.

Pour in the flavor.

After you’ve filled your blender with good stuff, you don’t want to blow it by pouring in sugary juice or another super-sweet liquid. Instead, add flavor minus the sugar. Iced unsweetened herbal teas can really bump up the flavor; we love hibiscus-berry, but try experimenting with peach, raspberry, vanilla, mint or any other flavor you like. Kefir, plain yogurt, almond or coconut milk, or even just a splash of plain water all work well, too.

Mix in added goodness.

Bump up the satisfaction factor in your smoothie with some protein. Back away from the sugar- and additive-filled protein powders and opt for unsweetened nut butter, a seed butter like tahini, plain collagen peptides, or hemp or chia seeds. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice lend sweetness without sugar. And if you didn’t know it—cacao powder makes your smoothie feel like a treat.

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