Build a Better Smoothie



Smoothies are a great way to pack a ton of nutrition into a refreshing, on-the-go glass. However, many “healthy” smoothies in reality are loaded with carbohydrates and sugar from tons of fruit as well as juice, honey, agave or possibly even sherbet or sorbet!  Of course these smoothies taste fantastic BUT they aren’t so fantastic for us and don’t provide a balanced, anchored meal.

Green Smoothies

To help lower the sugar content of traditional fruit smoothies (and get the added bonus of consuming 2-3 servings of vegetables BEFORE 8:00am!), give green smoothies a try.  Green smoothies incorporate dark, leafy greens into the recipe but many also add extra fruit, juice and/or sweeteners to mask the flavor of the greens so you still have to be careful with the sugar content.

To lower the sugar content of smoothies:

  • Don’t use juice as your liquid base. Use coconut water, milk or water instead.
  • Limit added sweeteners like honey, agave, or maple syrup. Try adding naturally sweet fruits to your smoothies instead to help cut the bitterness of the greens.
  • Avoid processed sugars and artificial sweeteners. Try pure vanilla extract or a drop or two of pure Stevia extract instead (or again, opt for no added sweeteners and let the fruit talk for itself).
  • Use 60/40 Greens to Fruit Ratio. Traditional green smoothie recipes are 40% greens and 60% fruit, but this may still be too high in sugar for some people. Instead, try a 60% greens and 40% fruit ratio as shown below.   This usually works out to be around 3 cups of leafy greens and 2 cups of fruit which would make 2 large servings (or 4 servings if using it as a snack).


Build a BETTER #smoothie with the 60/40 Greens to Fruit Ratio! #saslife Click To Tweet

Make Ahead Smoothie Packs- Freeze Your Greens!

Many people avoid making smoothies in the morning because they don’t have the time or desire to pull out the blender, measure ingredients, and then wash the blender parts while also trying to get everyone out of the house for work or school.

Well, there’s a solution to this problem- make smoothie packs.

  • Wash, cut and dry your greens and fruits and freeze them in individual, pre-portioned freezer-safe containers. You can also purchase already frozen fruit to save a step.
  • Use the 60/40 ratio above as a guide to portions (for example, one serving would have approximately 1.5 cups of greens and 1 cup of fruit).
  • Leave out any “dry” ingredients like protein powder, flax seeds, coconut oil, Greek yogurt or nut butters and your liquid base. You can pre-measure these ingredients in advance if you’d like and store them in your pantry or fridge for easy access.

Now, we you’re ready to make a fresh smoothie, pop the container out of the freezer, place it in the blender and just add your liquid base and “dry” ingredients (AKA- protein and/or healthy fat booster) of choice.

Freeze your #greens! Make smoothie packs ahead to store in the freezer for quick, fresh green smoothies. #saslife Click To Tweet

Build YOUR Better Smoothie

Simple, right? Now it’s time to get in the kitchen and start experimenting with green smoothies!

If you’re a beginner, opt for milder greens like spinach or baby kale.  If the greens are still a little too bitter for your taste buds, add a little extra fruit to start, working your way up to the 60/40 greens to fruit ratio.

Also, don’t be afraid to add celery, carrots, beets, etc to your smoothie- the sky really is the limit with smoothie combinations!

Check out the healthy green smoothie recipes below that hopefully will be love at first sip!

What is your favorite green smoothie concoction?


Greeña Colada Smoothie
Makes 2 large servings
Recipe Adapted from: Pineapple and Coconut


1 cup coconut water
½ avocado, peeled and pitted
3-4 cups fresh spinach
1½ cups frozen pineapple chunks
¼” thick slice (or about ⅛) of fresh lime, including peel
1 tbsp coconut oil
Ice, if desired


  1. Add ingredients to a blender in this order: coconut water, avocado, spinach, pineapple, and lime. Blend on medium until spinach is starting to puree.
  2. While the blender is still on, slowly pour in coconut oil. Once added, blend on high.
  3. Taste and add ice for a thicker smoothie or additional water to thin, if needed, to reach desired consistency.




Kale, Berry, Banana Smoothie
Makes 1 serving




2 cups fresh kale (for a milder taste, use baby kale or spinach)
¾ cup frozen blueberries or mixed berries
½ medium banana, frozen
1 scoop clean, unsweetened whey protein powder or other protein powder of choice
½ - 1 cup milk of choice
1 tsp vanilla, optional


  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Taste and add additional milk to thin, if needed to reach desired consistency, and add vanilla for a touch of sweetness if desired.




About Author

Ashley Bailey, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP


Ashley is a Nutritionist at SAS Institute in Cary, NC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner, Certified Biofeedback Instructor and also has a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management. Outside of work, Ashley enjoys crafting, cooking, walking and spending as much time as possible at the beach. Follow @abaileyRD on Twitter.


  1. Thanks for the tips. Do you recommend adding protein powder to your smoothie to help slow down sugar absorption?

    • Ashley Bailey, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP
      Ashley Bailey, MS, RDN, LDN on

      Yes, some type of protein and/or healthy fat is essential for smoothies! Pick one (or more) of the ingredients under "Give it a Boost" to add necessary protein/fat. You can use a clean protein powder or plain Greek yogurt, avocado, etc.

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