by Julie Morris, Navitas Naturals Executive Chef
October 30, 2012
Answer: You’re in luck: there are a multitude of ways to create a thicker smoothie. To decide which technique is for you, I suggest determining the nutritional benefit that best aligns with your health goals, then choosing from the abundance of foods within that option:
Vitamins & Minerals – If you’re looking to meet (or even go above and beyond) your 5-a-day, using frozen fruits and vegetables is a go-to way to thicken a smoothie. Because adding an extra frozen banana or a cup of frozen strawberries is so effective at creating frosty masterpieces, this is a choice technique at commercial smoothie shops.
Healthy Fats – Nuts, seeds, and nut butters turn a watery blend into a thick blend fast by upping the “creamy” factor. Try adding a spoonful of almond butter or a handful of raw cashews … while it won’t be enough to save very thin smoothies, it can add a delicious thickness to smoothies that just need “a little extra oomph.”
Fiber – Perhaps the most effective way to thicken smoothies is using flax and chia seeds. These superfoods contain a large amount of mucilage, meaning they’ll swell up substantially, becoming slightly gelatinous when soaked in liquid, and causing smoothies to thicken dramatically (usually a tablespoon or two of either chia seeds/powder or flaxseed powder is all it takes to do the trick). The one downside to this process is that the mucilage requires 10-20 minutes to fully activate, so for best results, try using a pre-made chia or flax gel, which allows you to best determine just how much your smoothie is thickening. Learn the simple process on how to make the gel here: http://www.navitasnaturals.com/recipes/chia/basic-chia-gel.html
Probiotics – a few spoonfuls of yogurt can offer extra thickness and enhanced digestion. For optimum health, seek non-dairy varieties like almond yogurt or coconut yogurt that are not as acid-forming as dairy.
Low-Calorie – Don’t be afraid to simply just add more ice! If you’re watching the overall calorie content of your blend, an extra cup or two of ice is sometimes all it takes to get a smoothie to the right consistency. If using this trick, try adding a few drops of liquid stevia as well to help extend the smoothie’s flavor that has been slightly watered down by the icy addition.
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