A smoothie is often a well-intended way to consume something healthy. It can be a perfect opportunity to eat more fruits and vegetables (something we all know we need), add some protein and have a “balanced” meal or snack all in one cup. Sipping a nutritionally balanced smoothie allows for an on-the-go, convenient way to eat in today’s busy world.  

What makes a smoothie “healthy”? Smoothies can include anything and everything from fresh fruit, berries, seeds, nuts, powders, elixirs, milks and even ice cream. It can be confusing to sort through all these ingredient options and to understand what is nutritionally optimal, so we broke it down for you. Read on to learn how to build a healthy smoothie.

Building blocks of a healthy smoothie

Gennev Dietitians teach our patients about eating balanced meals that align with our Menopause Healthy Plate method. This means most meals are composed of healthy unsaturated fats, lean or plant-based protein, and fiber-rich carbohydrates. When a smoothie contains all three (fat, protein and carbs), it will satiate the appetite (fill you up), support healthy blood sugar levels and provide other nutritional perks such as antioxidants, naturally anti-inflammatory foods, and fiber for good digestion.  Our approach is that nutritional needs can be met with whole foods as opposed to relying on processed powders, added “boosts” or other mixes.  

The following are our go-to foods that fit the building blocks of a healthy whole foods smoothie:

  1. Protein: Plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt or Islandic Skyr (both are forms of strained yogurt that contain higher protein than regular yogurt), plain kefir (liquid-y yogurt that contains slightly lower protein than Greek style yogurt), tofu (a non-dairy option), and a quality protein powder like Vital Proteins (they have both animal and plant options).
  2. Healthy fat: Nut butters (almond, peanut, cashew, walnut specifically), pumpkin seed better, chia seeds, hemp seeds, olive oil and avocados/avocado oil. You can even purchase frozen avocado chunks or freeze your own chopped up avocados.
  3. Fiber-rich carbohydrates: All fruits, berries, vegetables and even whole grains. Some vegetables work better in the smoothie than others (spinach, kale and other greens, beets, riced cauliflower, shredded carrots, zucchini and fresh herbs for example). And don’t forget the frozen bananas. They are a key ingredient to helping smoothies blend well and provide some sweetness to mask the bitterness or tartness from some vegetables or yogurt.
  4. Other liquids: Typically, a small amount of water, milk or a non-dairy milk alternative is key to blending up a smoothie to reach the desired consistency.  You can also experiment with added ice cubes as well. By using FROZEN fruit however, you can get that smoothie nice and chilled without requiring ice. This is where you can play around with consistency-depending on how you like your smoothie.  

Be aware of “calorie traps” and unnecessary boosts

  • Gennev Dietitians suggest you avoid adding fruit juice to save on added calories and sugar, and include water or a small amount of milk instead. Afterall, you’re getting the carbs and fiber in the real fruit itself.
  • If you’re including fruits and veggies, you likely don’t need any extra green powder or similar product. When nutrients are consumed through whole foods, they are more bioavailable than the powdered supplemental form anyway.
  • Collagen is a very popular smoothie ingredient these days and research shows it may be beneficial for women as we age. If you’re going to use a protein powder as your protein building block, it cannot hurt to try one that also includes collagen as part of the protein source.  
  • It’s easy for the calories to add up when making a smoothie. Be mindful of all the ingredients you are putting in that blender. A smoothie can be used as a meal replacement for a quick on-the-go breakfast or as a post-workout snack. However, it’s easy to sprinkle in this and that, and before you know it, that smoothie has 1,000 calories (not good). These high-calorie smoothies are common at smoothie bars or shops, so when ordering out, ask to see the nutrition information before making your selection.  

Smoothies made easier

  • Try making smoothie packs to save yourself time and reduce food waste with perishable produce. Simply take those last handfuls of spinach or kale and add to a Ziploc baggie with frozen bananas, berries and freeze for later. All you’ll need to do is dump that baggie into a blender, add your healthy fat, protein and liquid.
  • Invest in a good blender. A high-speed blender is key for getting that smooth consistency to a smoothie. You can spend anywhere from $40 to $400 on a blender but often times, the lower cost ones will do the trick. One of our favorites is the Nutribullet Personal Blender that allows you to blend your smoothie into a personal cup you can take with you.  
  • Bananas for blending. Bananas work very well to help emulsify that smoothie and give it a sweet flavor and consistency. When you have a bunch of bananas on the counter that are turning brown, save them! Simply peel them and break them into halves and store in the freezer for your favorite smoothies.  

3 of our favorite whole food smoothie recipes

*Remember you can swap out different protein/fat/carb options and tweak these recipes to your liking!  

Recipes created by: Monika Jacobson, RDN

Tropical Green Smoothie

Protein: ¾ cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt

Fat: 1 Tablespoon almond butter + 1 teaspoon unsweetened, shredded coconut (optional)

Fiber-rich carbs: ½ small banana + ½ cup frozen mango chunks + 1 cup spinach

  1. Add a small amount of water or almond milk
  2. Blend until you reach the desired consistency
  3. Top with unsweetened shredded coconut if you prefer

Berry Blast Smoothie

Protein: ¾ cup plain, unsweetened kefir

Fat: 3 tablespoons avocado

Fiber-rich carbs: ½ small banana + 1 cup mixed frozen berries

  1. Add a small amount of water or almond milk
  2. Blend until you reach the desired consistency

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Protein: ¾ cup silken tofu

Fat: 1 Tablespoon peanut butter

Fiber-rich carbs: 1 small frozen banana + ½ cup shredded kale

Other: 2 teaspoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder

  1. Add a small amount of water or almond milk
  2. Blend until you reach the desired consistency

Balanced nutrition from whole foods is key to warding off disease in menopause and beyond. If you need guidance on how to incorporate healthy recipes like this and others into your diet on a regular basis, consider working with our integrated care team who are experts in supporting women in menopause. Our RDNs will create your personalized plan that optimizes your nutrition and other lifestyle factors, plus provides one-on-one support to create healthy habits for the long-term.


Monika Jacobson

June 14, 2023

Medically Reviewed By

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