Kitchen Sink Smoothie (Or “How to Build a Kick-Ass Smoothie”)

[Scroll down for recipe.]

General Guidelines for Building a Kick-Ass Smoothie or Shake

I love a good smoothie.

I have a long history with protein shakes (like the Double Chocolate Pecan Protein Shake, which you should try immediately if you have not already). I enjoy the challenge of making something that sounds so terrible (“protein shake” – yuck!) taste super fantastic. And when my training volume increases, I find it’s the best way to increase caloric/nutrient intake without having to cook extra meals during the day.

There’s a trick to getting them right, however, and these are the things that I’ve found to be key.

A Kick-Ass Blender

Last year I finally broke down and bought a Vita-Mix blender. If you’re not familiar with this mega-horsepower mixing beast, it is the shagri-la of blenders. The Holy Grail. The final frontier. It is the blender to end all blenders – the nirvana of mixing.

After years of battling everyday, run-of-the-mill household blenders, the Vita-Mix was the answer I’d been looking for. You can literally throw the kitchen sink into this thing and it will probably puree it into a fine shake, perfect for drinking.

I haven’t tried that yet, but don’t put it past me.

The beauty of having so much horsepower is that I can add whole foods to my protein shakes: a few leaves of kale or a handful of spinach.  The stuff disappears into the beverage and, aside from a green tint, the drinker is none the wiser. Same great smoothie, now with more fiber, vitamins, goodness, and glory!

A Delicious Base Liquid

I usually opt for Rice Milk, Almond Milk, or Chocolate Soy Milk. Sometimes, when I’m going for something more low-calorie, I’ll start with a cold tea base. Hibiscus Tea works great for fruit-centric smoothies and gives everything a bright, cheery pink color. Mint Tea is an interesting base for chocolate smoothies (mint chocolate!) and Green Tea works great for just about everything.

The milks obviously lend more flavor and sweetness, which you have to take into account when thinking about your other ingredients. Whatever you choose, having a flavorful liquid base makes a huge difference – plain cow’s milk and water bore the crap out of me.

Tasty Protein Powder

You don’t have to put protein powder in your smoothie, but I usually do. What I’ve discovered is that there is a vast cavern between the deliciousness of one protein powder to another. After a few years of experimentation, I am officially hooked on Jay Robb.  It blows the competition away in the taste category and isn’t loaded with a bunch of synthetic crap.

You use what you want, all I’m sayin’ is it will be the difference between smoothie/shake suckage and smoothie/shake greatness.

Creativity and Attention to Detail

Don’t be afraid!  Go nuts (literally). You can hide all kinds of healthy shit in a tasty smoothie. Experiment. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Test things on your family. They are cute little guinea pigs and you should use them. (Sal is my litmus test for whether something actually tastes good or if I’m just fooling myself.)

An Example: The Kitchen Sink Smoothie

Sal wants it!

Sal wants it!!

(Serves 2)

  • 1.5c Vanilla Rice Milk
  • .5c water
  • Half banana
  • 3 tbsp flaxseed meal (ground flax seed)
  • 2 scoops Greens product (I used greens from Trader Joes)
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 1 scoop Jay Robb chocolate protein
  • 20 blueberries
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1 T. Almond Butter
  • 8 pecans

Mix together with reckless abandon. (A big-assed VitaMix blender will deftly annihilate all ingredients). Serve in a nice glass. It makes you feel special.

(you can click it to make it bigger)


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  1. I’m about to ruin your perfectly wonderful post with a loosely related comment about the Green Smoothie Revolution recipe book my mom has. Two fun facts from this book:

    1) If you don’t rotate the kind of greens you are using (like, if you are eating kale smoothies for weeks) you can build up enough of that particular plant’s alkaloids that weird neurological things start happening like your face going numb. Wacky!

    2) The best recipe name ever: “Colon Surprise Pudding.” As a rule, my colon doesn’t like surprises, but hey – who doesn’t like pudding?

  2. Colon Surprise Pudding… I must have this recipe!

    And thank you for the fun facts! I’m pretty sure a book called “Green Smoothie Revolution” needs to be in my library. I’m going to hunt and acquire!

  3. earl patrick

    Heidi -

    can you tell me the software you used to generate the nutritional data. it looks better than anything i’ve tried.

    here’s a smoothie tip that also makes for killer blended margaritas, if you’re so inclined. instead of ice, i use frozen fruit.

    • Hi Earl,
      I’ve gone back and forth in the past but I am using the Livestrong / Daily Plate online resource for nutrition information. They have a “New Plate” view that is in Beta (and I find it works very well for everything except manually tracking activity) I took the screenshot in that view.
      The frozen fruit tip is great! I find it is a great way to save ailing bananas, too. :) And frozen bananas – in a smoothie or on their own – are one of my favorite treats! (frozen mango too – yum!)


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