A Chef’s Guide to Making Smoothies at Home

  • Written By:Carla Contreras

I drink a matcha smoothie every day. I make some modifications here and there, but it’s full of greens and healthy fats and keeps me going until lunch. On days that I test and shoot recipes all day, I often have a green smoothie minus the matcha for dinner or a vanilla, collagen, chamomile, and rose hip latte. Here is my smoothie template and a list of essentials and substitutions. If you have any questions, send me a DM on Instagram at @chefcarla_c.


Plant-based milk: This adds richness and creaminess to your smoothie. Some of my favorites are almond milk, oat milk, and homemade cashew milk. If you don’t have any plant-based milk on hand, you can always use water! A scoop of collagen in lemon water is a delicious, protein-rich way to start your morning. Have nut or seed butter? Make this 60-second plant based milk.


Leafy greens: One of the best ways to get in your greens is to add them to your smoothie. Adding a cup or two adds fiber, bulk, and prebiotics. Some ideas: kale, spinach, or Swiss chard. You can go zero waste and use the tops of beets and radishes. Washing, drying, and freezing your greens will make them last longer (bonus: You don’t have to add ice to your smoothie). You can also add herbs like parsley and cilantro (these freeze well). Buying bags of frozen greens works really well since they require zero prep. You can also skip the greens and add veggies like zucchini, cucumber, and beet. Get creative!


Fruit (optional): Adding bananas to your smoothies adds sweetness and fiber and increases gut bacteria, especially from ones that are less ripe. You can freeze them at the point of ripeness you like. Depending on the type of blender you have, you may want to slice them and place them on a cookie sheet with parchment paper so it doesn't stick and then place them in a bag. For a high-speed blender you can keep them whole, blend them after a few minutes of defrosting. You can also use 1/4 of an avocado (they freeze well too). Frozen or steamed cauliflower adds fiber and bulk and a beautiful creaminess if you don’t want fruit in your smoothie. Start with 1/2 to 1 cup of cauliflower for a single serving.

Healthy fats: This is one of the real secrets when it comes to making smoothies. Healthy fats can be a game changer in terms of leaving you full and satisfied. A basic measurement for fat is 1 tablespoon per smoothie. Here are some to try: ground or whole flax seeds or chia seeds; almond, cashew, walnut, or peanut butters; pepita or tahini seed butters; and/or coconut oil.


Adaptogens + caffeine (optional): Adaptogens are so fun to play with and are a total bonus to put in your smoothies. This is an area where it helps to know your body, do your research, and give them a try to see how you feel. Some to try include maca, lion’s mane, turmeric, ashwagandha, and activated charcoal. Caffeine options you can try include coffee and matcha.

Chef Carla Contreras is the founder of the online cooking school Cook+Chop. She competed on season 12 of Chopped! on Food Network. She is Nutritious Life Certified, a Certified Holistic Health Coach, a food stylist, and photographer with a stacked culinary resume.

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