Smoothies are a great way to start your day. If you use the right ingredients, they can be tasty, filling, and filled with nutrition (I always make mine a green smoothie when I add in a handful of spinach or kale). If you’re running short on time, you can pre-make the smoothie mix and just toss it into the blender on your way out the door. All in all, this breakfast or midday snack is pretty easy to make once you know how to thicken a smoothie.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with a thin smoothie – they still have all the health benefits and help with weight loss. It’s just that they’re just not as exciting as a thick and creamy smoothie! There are a few different ways to thicken your smoothie, so don’t worry if you’re dairy-free or gluten-free. We have a way to get your smoothie thicker for everyone!
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1. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are my preferred way to thicken smoothies. These tiny little seeds create a gel when they’re exposed to liquid. They’re pretty popular for making puddings or thickening jellies and jams, but I love the tiny little crunch they add to a thick smoothie. In addition to their ability to thicken, they also provide a burst of energy thanks to their omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber contents.
2. Nut butters
If you’re allergic to peanuts, or just don’t love peanut butter, never fear: there are all kinds of delicious nut butters on the market today! You find almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butters at the grocery store. And, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make your own DIY nut butters!
Any kind of nut butter will add body to your smoothie, thickening everything up while also bringing beneficial fats and proteins to your smoothie.
3. Ice cubes
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Any kind of crushed ice will thicken up your smoothies without adding any allergens at all. If you don’t have an automatic ice maker, never fear! You can have a ton of fun with making fruit-infused ice in your ice cube trays. Freeze whole fruit or fruit juice in ice trays, or you can even make coconut milk ice cubes to add to your smoothie.
If you don’t want to bother with making ice cubes, other frozen alternatives are available. Frozen fruit will thicken everything up just as nicely: apples, pineapple, berries, or mangos freeze really well.
4. Sweet potato
Adding a cooked sweet potato to the blender or Vitamix is an amazing way to thicken your smoothie. It’s naturally sweet and it will bring a silken texture to your drink. We all know about sweet potato’s superfood status: it boosts the immune system, is a powerful source of vitamins and minerals, and it adds a vibrant color to your morning drink. How great is that?
5. Flax seeds
Make a high-fiber version of your favorite smoothie just by adding a few tablespoons of flax. You can soak them in water if you don’t like their grainy texture, or you can add ground flax seeds directly to the blender if you don’t mind a little bit of grit in your smoothie. You’ll get a burst of nutrition and a thickened smoothie, all at the same time.
6. Protein powder
This method is not only a great way to add protein to your drink, but it also helps thicken things up! Many protein powders also contain xanthan gum, a naturally occurring ingredient that adds body and thickness when it comes in contact with liquid. You’ll reap the nutritional benefits of the powder and can potentially add some fun flavors to your smoothie recipes. Personally, I’m a strawberry smoothie fanatic, so I love the berry flavored kinds!
7. Cottage cheese
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This method won’t exactly work if you’re dairy free (and you’re probably using almond milk instead of cow’s milk!). But, it works wonders for those without allergens. Cottage cheese adds a ton of protein to your smoothie (in addition to giving it body), so this really is a meal in a cup.
8. Silken tofu
Using silken tofu is the perfect way to thicken up a smoothie while also adding protein. This plant-based protein is completely vegan, dairy free, and gluten-free. Because tofu is a complete protein, you’ll get all of your essential amino acids without having to add protein powder.
I love the taste of bananas, so I always use them for my smoothie bowls! But, if you don’t like the flavor of a banana smoothie, you might still be able to use a banana as a smoothie thickener. The flavor of the banana is easily covered up by berries and nut butters!
You should use fresh bananas or freshly frozen bananas for maximum thickening power because they still have all their starches. Browned bananas have more sugar content than starches, so they would make a thick but sweeter smoothie.
In addition to being a source of healthy fats, the addition of an avocado will give your smoothie a creamy texture. And, don’t worry, your smoothie won’t just taste like avocado! Avocado has become a popular addition to vegan brownie and mousse recipes because its flavor is completely covered up by cacao powder. So if you want a creamier texture to any flavor smoothie you make, try avocado.
This article was originally published on May 25, 2018.