I’ve been drinking smoothies for breakfast for almost a year now. That means you can bet your butt my kitchen hosts an arsenal of basic smoothie ingredients.
Basic smoothie ingredients help you make energizing, tasty and satisfying smoothies quickly. With a handful of my basic smoothie ingredients, you can have a different smoothie every day of the week.
Some of my basic smoothie ingredients I use every day. I use other smoothie ingredients on a weekly basis, but not daily. And others I use only when they’re in season. Combined, the three types of basic smoothie ingredients balance convenience and variety.
The best healthy smoothie ingredients aren’t always expensive. Usually the best ingredients are locally grown and properly ripened.
Everyday Basic Ingredients for Smoothies
Bananas are a basic smoothie ingredient because they’re cheap, versatile and universal. Whether you live in Madrid, Brisbane or San Francisco, you can always find bananas at a decent price. Most basic smoothies start off with bananas.
If you can, get Del Monte or Chiquita bananas over Dole bananas. Del Monte and Chiquita bananas ripen and taste better than their Dole counterparts.
If you don’t live in the US, the best bananas you can get are from Dominican Republic. They’re the best bananas I’ve ever tasted.
Unfortunatley, Dominican Republic bananas aren’t available those living in the USA. The US lacks a friendly trade relationship with Dominican Republic.
Ripeness is a factor that influences quality and taste. Yellow and green bananas don’t make sweet smoothies.
Ripe bananas are spotty. At least wait until dark speckles sprinkle the outside of your bananas. Ideally, wait until the spots are large, prominent and dark.
Legumes are essential to my satisfying morning smoothies. They add the fullness, creaminess and pack fiber into every recipe. They’re also a great source of many minerals.
Smoothies with legumes (beans, chickpeas and split peas) are best with quality legumes. Hard, under cooked beans result in grainy smoothies. Different types of legumes create different flavors. And over-salted legumes make smoothies far too salty.
I soak, sprout and cook my own legumes from scratch. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to ensure my beans are the proper consistency for smoothies.
If you cook your own beans, I recommend soaking them before cooking them. It significantly reduces the cooking time and increases nutrient absorption. Sprouting is even better
The best way to cook legumes for smoothies is to batch cook them in a pressure cooker. White and black beans (soaked and sprouted) take 2 minutes at full pressure to cook with a slow release. Cooking the same beans the stovetop would take at least an hour if not mo.
Soft legumes are best for smoothies. If you cook them yourself, it’s best to overcook them so they’re quick to blend.
If you don’t cook your own legumes, look for canned ones that aren’t salted.
A few notes about split peas: for 2 cups of cooked split peas, I soak ½ cup of dry split peas in in 1 cup of water.
When I’m ready to cook them in my pressure cooker, I add another cup of water. Thus, ½ cup dry split peas results in 2 cups of cooked split peas.
Also, I only soak split peas, never sprout them.
Turmeric & Black Pepper
As a health junkie, I squeeze as much nutrition into my food as I can. That’s why I add a dash of turmeric and black pepper to every smoothie.
Turmeric and black pepper aren’t necessary to delicious smoothies. That’s why they’re not in the ingredients for every smoothie. But if you want to add a punch of color and nutrition to your smoothie, I recommend it. A touch of each won’t affect the taste.
Plus, the turmeric transforms dull banana smoothies into vibrantly-colored smoothies. Who doesn’t want a colorful breakfast?
Weekly Basic Smoothie Ingredients
I get it. Berries are expensive. Though I must admit they make for excellent smoothies. And they’re packed with nutrition.
I love blueberries because they add rich color and tons of nutrients. I typically eat them twice a week.
Because blueberries are expensive, I use frozen blueberries instead of fresh. My brand of choice is Signature Kitchens from Safeway. They’re the best price and don’t have any sugar added. They’re also whole, which makes them less messy.
If you don’t have blueberries, other options are strawberries, blackberries or raspberries.
Cinnamon is a basic smoothie ingredient for me because it’s a spice everybody has and enjoys. If you’re bored with your smoothies, just add cinnamon. Cinnamon pairs well with most (if not all) of the ingredients on this list.
And if possible, stock your spice cabinet with true cinnamon, a.k.a. Ceylon cinnamon.
The cinnamon on most supermarket shelves is Cassia/Chinese cinnamon. That means you need to specifically seek out Ceylon cinnamon.
You can buy true cinnamon at most bulk stores, on Amazon or even from specialty spice sellers. I admit, it’s more expensive than the cinnamon sold for cheap at grocery stores. But it’s worth the price.
You’ll notice a difference once you taste it. Ceylon cinnamon isn’t as bitter by itself. It usually tastes fresher than Cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon still tastes earthy, but it loses much of its dirty undertones.
A second reason to buy Ceylon over Cassia? You can’t overdose on it. If you eat as much cinnamon as I do, you have the chance of eating more than a tablespoon throughout the whole day. Eating more than that can be problematic for your health.
Dates are nature’s candy, and that’s why I use them as a natural, whole-food sweeter to sweeten my smoothies.
I’m used to three types of dates: medjool, zahidi and deglet noor dates. By themselves, they all have distinct flavors. In smoothies, they’re flavors are less important.
Like blueberries, dates can be expensive. Sometimes you can get them for cheap from your local farmer’s market, grocery store or ethic store.
There’s nothing wrong with buying dry dates. It only makes them more difficult to blend. I solve this problem by soaking my dates in water before using them.
Soaking dates is easy. Add the dates to a glass jar and cover in plenty of water. Soak the dates for at least 24 hours. Pit and use in any recipe you like.
I usually soak a big jar of dates and store the extra the fridge. That way I always have dates ready to use in recipes.
Occasional & Seasonal Basic Smoothie Ingredients
Maca is one of those weird superfoods you’ve heard about here and there. It’s easier to find than ever before.
I haven’t tried all the different types of maca, I’ve only tried the red maca from The Maca Team. I’m very happy with my experience with them and the quality of maca they deliver.
Though maca is another expensive ingredient, it adds a subtle bitter caramel flavor. I uses it every once in awhile to flavor my smoothies and other foods. You only need to use a little to get a big punch of flavor, so buying maca can be worth it.
One of my favorite aspects of summer is the abundance of ripe mangoes in sunny California. We get so many because we’re close to Mexico, a country that grows a lot of mangoes. Sometimes I forgo bananas and replace them this seasonal fruit.
Quality mangoes can be hard to get in some parts of the US as they’re grown in warm climates close to the equator. Those living farther north will find mangoes difficult to find and often expensive.
Sourcing mangoes is easier for those living close to or in Latin American or Asian countries. They’ll also be better quality as mangoes don’t ship well. I can find boxes of ripe mangoes at my local fruit store during the warm summer months in San Francisco.
Summer is the time for melons, not only mangoes. I was hesitant about adding melons to smoothies first. Once you try, you’ll be addicted like I am.
They key to using melons in smoothies is to make sure they’re juicy and sweet. That way, they act like a water substitute so you have to minimal to no liquid to your blender.
Make sure your melons are juicy by buying melons that smell sweet and are heavy for their size. Avoid light melons. The melon season is in the height of summer in the US. June through August is the peak melon season in the northern hemisphere.
If there is one new ingredient you try, I hope it’s melons. They’re one of the best ingredients for a smoothie.
Mild Curry Powder
The first time I used curry powder in a sweet dish was when I made curried oats with cashews. After that day, my perspective of curry powder totally changed. I now use curry powder as a seasoning for dishes like bean burgers, curries and smoothies.
You can find curry powder almost anywhere .Amazon, Instacart and even your favorite grocery store stock it. My store of choice is my local international store down the street.
My international store stocks a brand called The Shah’s Deer. It’s a brand of curry powder that is mild, flavorful and salt-free. If you can find this brand, it’s the one I recommend buying.
If you can’t, make sure your curry powder is both salt-free and mild. Moderate spice is okay in a smoothie, but too much can overpower the smoothie.
Peanut butter is another basic smoothie ingredient you already have in your kitchen. I love adding peanut butter when I want to make my smoothie even more satisfying.
I’ve bought many brands of peanut butter over the years. The brand I most regularly buy is Open Nature, a store brand from Safeway.
If there aren’t any Safeways near you, I also like peanut butter from my local bulk store and a brand called Adam’s.
The most important aspect to look for in peanut butter is purity. Avoid peanuts with added oil and sugar. Ideally, your peanut butter contains one ingredient: peanuts. That’s what’s in the peanut butter from bulk stores, but most jarred peanut butters have a little bit of salt. Look for peanut butters with fewer milligrams of sodium than calories.
Another option is to make your own peanut butter with a food processor. Target sells a 16-ounce container of unsalted, roasted and shelled peanuts for $2.50-$3. Make your own by blending in a food processor.
Like melons, pineapple can act like a liquid in some smoothie recipes to a lesser degree. For the juiciest and sweetest pineapple, make sure you’re cutting up ripe fruit.
Again, like melons, seek out fruits that smell sweet and pineapple-y. They should also be heavy for their size.
See how I use these basic smoothie ingredients in action in my latest recipe book, Sweet Fiber Smoothie Book. It’s a unique smoothie guide to smoothies that provide energy, fiber and protein to your day.
Or, why not share this post with your smoothie-obsessed friends?