With almost limitless possibilities, smoothies are extremely easy to make and customize — and, with the right ingredients, they can even serve as a healthy snack or meal.

Here are six key smoothie ingredients you should always have on hand:

1. Liquids

Every smoothie calls for liquid in one form or another. Depending on the smoothie consistency you prefer, you can add or subtract the amount you add to your blender. Different recipes will call for different ingredients, but a few commonly-called-for liquids include: water, milk (including dairy milk, soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk), and fruit juice. Whole ice cubes are also added to some recipes.  

2. Dairy or non-dairy bases

Smoothies require an ingredient to serve as the thicker, creamier base. Yogurt and sherbet are common smoothie bases, but certain fruits will do the job on their own. Look for fruits that are not water-rich such as apples, mangos, and bananas. Other smoothie base options include peanut butter/nut butters and even oatmeal.

3. Fruit

Fruit is the main ingredient of most smoothies. When adding fruit, you can follow an exact recipe or mix things up and add handfuls of your favorite flavors. Fresh fruit and frozen fruit both work perfectly in smoothies, because all the ingredients are blended together. Bananas are a popular smoothie choice because of their creamy texture and high potassium levels, but any fruit will do! Try berries, tropical fruits, or a combination of the two.

4. Vegetables

Many people are hesitant about adding vegetables to smoothies, but the strong fruit flavors usually overpower the bitterness of veggies. Mixing the two foods together is a great way to add fiber and other nutrients to your smoothies. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach are great options that go well with fruit. 100 Days of Real Food suggests following a 60:40 fruit:vegetable ratio to keep your smoothies tasting delicious.

5. Supplements

While supplements are not necessary for making a scrumptious smoothie, many can help add an extra boost to your day. Mixing protein powders, Vitamin C, probiotics, or coconut oil along with your fruit and milk can provide extra flavor and nutritional benefits.

6. A high-quality blender

Even if you have all the necessary smoothie ingredients, you won’t be able to combine them without a powerful blender! Make sure the model you buy can handle crushing fruit, and that powders will not get stuck and clog the motor. Most basic models will do the job—some are even built for single-servings and allow you to drink right out of the blender “cup!”

If you’re searching for a healthier alternative to ice cream and popsicles, use smoothies to cool down this summer. DIY smoothies contain much less sugar than most store-bought versions, and are cheaper and fun to make!
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