Smoothies are a delicious and versatile way to include more fruit and veggies in your diet. We all have our favorite smoothie recipes and whether you like kale or kiwi, banana or mango there’s one thing that’s essential to bring a smoothie together. The liquid base. Without some liquid added a smoothie ends up very thick and sludgy and won’t blend very well.
I used to be a huge fan of adding fruit juice to every smoothie so I was horrified to find out that this choice may actually be compromising the healthiness of my smoothie habit. Since reading up on this I have tried many fruit juice alternatives in my favorite smoothie recipes but I keep ending up back at the same conclusion.
Water is the best liquid base you can give your smoothie. It’s free, zero calories, and goes with every recipe. You absolutely can and should be adding water to your smoothies if you want to maximize the health benefits found in them.
REASONS WHY WATER IS SUCH A GOOD OPTION
When you’re setting out to make a delicious, healthy smoothie, the calorie count can be the first thing to let you down. Whilst each ingredient is nutritious and not too calorie-dense on their own, combined together you can end up with quite a substantial calorie count per glass full. If weight loss is your goal then this can really affect your progress. One super-easy way to help cut out those excessive calories is to switch out the liquid base for pure water. It’s simple there are no calories and you still end up with a great smoothie!
NO ADDED SUGAR
Another issue with so-called healthy recipes is just because it contains lots of fruit does not mean the smoothie is low in sugar. In fact, it can end up being quite the opposite. A lot of smoothie recipes call for fruit juice to be added which contains as much sugar per volume as a can of coke. Yikes! The issue with fruit juices is that the fiber has been filtered out so only the fruit sugars remain. This makes the smoothies unsuitable for diabetics (or if you have any other similar health concerns), bad for your teeth, and packs in extra calories to boot. The simple fix here is just adding water in place of fruit juice.
GOES WITH EVERYTHING
An issue you may have faced when combining ingredients to make your favorite smoothie is that some things just don’t mix. Whether it’s your personal taste preference or a widely agreed on faux pas, the truth here is you do have to consider the ingredients before you throw them in the blender. The good news is, water goes with everything. There’s no smoothie combination that will be ruined with a cup or two of water so this adds an element of versatility to smoothie making.
For the frugal folk out there the price is something that can’t be underestimated. Tap water is absolutely free to use and it doesn’t get much better than that. Of course, you do have to consider if the water supply near you is safe to drink, and sometimes filtering the water is recommended before drinking it.
HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD I USE?
The volume of water used to make the perfect smoothie can actually vary quite a lot. It really depends on the other ingredients used and their water content. It also depends on what texture you prefer. Using fruit like watermelon, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries all have high water content so 1/2 – 3/4 cups of water may be all you need to get the ideal consistency. A green smoothie based on avocado, although it will have a lovely creaminess, may need more water to loosen the ingredients. Probably closer to 1 cup of water is needed. More fibrous veggies like kale also require a bit more liquid to really incorporate it.
To sum it up, start with 1/2 cup of water and add more as needed from there. You can go up to 1-2 cups until you get the desired consistency. It’s all about your individual taste and texture preference.
FILTERED IS BEST
If it’s tap water you are using then consider filtering water to make it pure and healthy. Filtering removes impurities and contaminants such as lead, arsenic, mercury, and chlorine. Whilst removing all these nasties the filter leaves in place all the healthy minerals such as magnesium, fluoride, calcium, and zinc. It also removes the elements that cause limescale. Filtered water tastes better and is a cost-effective way to maximize the hydration you receive.
CAN I USE ICE INSTEAD?
Ice cubes are often found on smoothie ingredient lists alongside the liquid base. The ice adds a creaminess to the smoothie and that ice-cool refreshing twist. Although it is technically water, ice shouldn’t be added in place of it. The smoothie will end up very thick and won’t blend very well. If you want a nice cool smoothie but want to avoid it getting watered down then consider adding frozen fruit instead of ice cubes. Frozen banana is a great example.
WHAT ABOUT SPARKLING?
If you love a bit of fizz then you’ll love this piece of good news. You can use sparkling water in a blender. The only (minor) issue is that the blender will reduce the amount of carbonation of the drink. In other words, you’ll lose some of the fizz.
I’ve tried this out in my Vitamix and found that even this very powerful blender left my smoothie fizzy enough to be enjoyable. If you don’t want to lose any fizz you can always add the sparkling water afterward as well!
IS FLAVOURED WATER OK TO USE?
Adding flavored water is a great way to add a touch of flavor to the hydration. Lemon water goes great in a fruit smoothie and some brands contain added vitamins as well. Still or sparkling, either way, they make a delicious smoothie.
WILL MY SMOOTHIE END UP WATERED DOWN?
If you (like me!) have a sweet tooth then adding water to a smoothie can be a bit of a difficult decision. It can end up watering down the flavor slightly and if you’re used to fruit juice you will notice a reduction in sweetness. There are ways to combat this though, so don’t give up on good hydration just yet!
Sweeteners such as agave, maple syrup, honey, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder can really boost a bland smoothie.
If you’re used to the milk-based smoothies then you may miss that creamy sensation. A tablespoon of unsweetened greek yogurt, peanut butter, or almond butter will soon fix this. Adding some flavored protein powder to water before you add it to the blender can also prevent the texture from becoming too thin.
Finally, another great option to thicken a smoothie can be adding seeds such as chia seeds, flax seeds, or pumpkin seeds. These superfoods give you the benefit of healthy fatty acids as well.
WHAT CAN BE USED INSTEAD OF WATER AS A LIQUID BASE?
If water just isn’t for you then consider these other options
Hydrating, refreshing, and full of healthy minerals, coconut water is a low-calorie option that suits most smoothie recipes.
For a thicker breakfast smoothie, cows milk can add a lovely creaminess. If you’re a fan of milk but looking for something different then consider trying goats milk or even sheep’s milk if you’re feeling adventurous.
DAIRY FREE MILKS
If dairy isn’t for you then fear not. There are so many non-dairy milk options you’re bound to find one that suits you. Almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, hemp milk, cashew nut milk, oat milk, and the list goes on!
Although they are heavy in sugar, fruit juices in moderation can give your smoothie the vitamin boost it needs. Orange juice is high in vitamin C and if freshly squeezed can be quite a healthy choice. If you love apple juice be sure and go for cloudy rather than clear as it contains way more health benefits that way.
Vegetable juice is a great fruit juice alternative and is lower in sugar as well. Carrot juice combined with turmeric, ginger, and kale is a recipe I love.
Whether you like black tea, green tea or matcha tea is a slightly atypical yet delicious smoothie addition. It goes great in a summer berry smoothie or a superfood green smoothie.
Coffee on the other hand goes well in a thicker, breakfast smoothie. Combined with nuts, milk, oats, and bananas, coffee adds a depth of flavor that people either love or hate.
Water may be the next big thing when it comes to smoothie making. Healthy, free, and zero calories make it at home in any smoothie recipe. Still or sparkling, it’s up to you but consider filtering tap water to maximize the benefits.
Less water will make a smoothie thicker, and a creamy smoothie is a good smoothie so be sparing. Drinking water with your smoothie might be a better idea for weight loss and hydration. How much water you add is of course up to you. And coconut water works as a great substitute for added flavor and extra taste. Frozen fruit also tends to have higher water content so can be a great addition.