I need some variety!!!
I’m sick of using bananas, mangoes, and berries in my smoothies. I don’t like having the same smoothies every day. These fruits and vegetables are not local to my area.
Have you found yourself asking these questions? I find that many smoothie recipes use the same kinds of fruits and vegetables because they are easily accessible in many areas, especially in North America. Although the following ingredients may not be easily accessible for all of us, it’s important to note that they are still nutritious and available in other parts of the world that want to indulge in an ice-cold smoothie from time to time! In fact, many of these ingredients are grown in climates that I wish I lived in. In my life, I’ve only ever tried some of these ONCE!
It’s about time these fruits and veggies had their time in the spotlight. Here are my favorite fruits and veggies that surprised me by how great they tasted blended into my smoothie!
Dragon Fruit – You may be asking yourself if this fruit is even edible. Also known as pitahaya or strawberry pear, it’s one of the coolest-looking fruits I’ve ever seen. It’s a slightly sweet cross between a kiwi and a pear. High in antioxidants like Vitamin C, Betalains, and Carotenoids (giving it its vibrant color), this fruit helps can help prevent cell damage and inflammation. Surprisingly, one cup of Dragon Fruit contains 7 g of fiber. With that fiber come lots of prebiotics that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut! Dragon Fruit is a great immune booster, a great source of magnesium, and can boost low iron levels. Make sure you grab one while it’s bright red. Some spots are normal, but if it’s got too many bruise-like splotches, it may be overripe. If it’s green, it isn’t ready yet. Look for soft, not mushy! You can then cut it in half lengthwise and scoop it out with a spoon or cube it and freeze the chunks for your smoothie.
Coconut – I like to use Coconut in my smoothies in the form of coconut water because it is more available where I live than fresh coconut. If you have fresh coconut, take advantage! I wouldn’t recommend this for all smoothies, but I especially love this after a hard workout or when I know my potassium and electrolyte stores are depleted (think hangover days…). It’s an all-natural way to hydrate, cut sodium, and add potassium to diets. Most Americans don’t get enough potassium because they don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, or dairy, so coconut water can help fill in the nutritional gaps. And it tastes nice and tropical! Mix it with some frozen pineapple for a piña colada (virgin or not!).
Durian – This is one of the stinkiest fruits in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean it should scare you off. I like to think I’m always up for a challenge, so I gave this fruit a go. The fruit’s yellow flesh is sometimes eaten raw or is cooked and used to flavor a number of traditional Southeast Asian dishes and candies. It’s also used in traditional Asian medicine, as both an anti-fever treatment and an aphrodisiac. It’s got an interesting flavor: a combination of savory, sweet, and creamy, making it perfect for a variety of different kinds of shakes. If you are unsure about the taste of this fruit, try it mixed with a banana and cacao powder. These two ingredients usually overpower a smoothie. If you want something richer and more authentic, try this Vietnamese Durian Smoothie. Ingredients include durian flesh, ice, condensed milk, and whole milk (which you can substitute if you don’t consume dairy).
Avocado – Yes, this is a fruit, not a vegetable. Even more surprisingly, avocados are considered a berry! I love fatty smoothies! Avo (especially the Hass variety) is a great choice for you if you want to thicken your smoothie and make it nice and smooth. Although these are more readily available (and probably cheaper in warmer climates), most grocery stores will now carry a cubed and frozen variety so you do not need to wait for your avocados to ripen. Most of the time, the wait is the most frustrating part! Although these are high in fat, they are a great choice for those looking to lose, maintain or gain weight in a healthy way. They’re so nutrient-rich, containing vitamin C, E, K, and B6. Not to mention, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. Lastly, they’re full of lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids, so they help to keep your skin, hair, heart, and eyes healthy. I use half an avocado in every smoothie as it helps to keep me full and satiated. I don’t go looking for more after I’m done with my smoothie. You can even make a chocolate mousse using avocado, cocoa powder, dutch cocoa, milk, vanilla, and salt… That’s technically a smoothie, right? 😉
Pumpkin – Scientifically, pumpkins and squash are fruits since they have seeds. The great thing is you will very often find some kind of squash or pumpkin in season. If you can’t, you can always go for a canned variety! High in vitamins A and K plus fiber, this is a great way to sneak vegetables into a smoothie without even noticing. This is one of my favorite seasonal smoothies that you can indulge in all year round! If you buy a whole pumpkin or squash, I suggest roasting it for a bit so that it is soft. You can then throw the chunks in or you can blend them and freeze them for later. Freezing blended squash can be used for smoothies, soups, and sauces.
Sweet Potato – Mixed with a frozen banana, cinnamon, and dates, this basically tastes like a pumpkin pie! Don’t put the potato into a smoothie raw, though! To prepare your sweet potato, prick it a few times and cook in the microwave until tender (the time will depend on the size of the potato – turn it every 2 minutes). I prefer to can cut it into cubes and steam it roast it in the oven. Whatever I don’t use in the smoothie I can use to prep my meals for the week. It’s a great source of fiber, antioxidants, and a medium to high glycemic index (GI), varying from 44–96. The GI is a measure of how fast your blood sugar levels rise after a meal, meaning it’s great before or after a workout! If you have a high-powered blender, you don’t even need to take off the skin – it’ll be imperceptible in the smoothie, but most like to use the flesh only.
Beans – Although not exactly a vegetable, I’m going to add it to this category since they do add fiber to your meals! To be fair, I can’t attest to ALL beans tasting good in a smoothie, but many are imperceptible, act as a thickener, or add a smooth flavor profile. If you want to stay full and satiated, add beans to your smoothies — cannellini, pinto, chickpeas, or black — and one-quarter cup adds 3g of fiber, 3g of protein, and only adds around 50 calories. But if you choose kidney beans, one-quarter cup offers 5g of fiber and 4g of protein. In my opinion, you can taste the kidney beans and black beans more, and you can definitely tell by the color that there is something different in the smoothie! A great started bean smoothie can contain cannellini beans, kiwi, blueberries, and mangos. I find canned beans to be the easiest and most convenient, but I try to look for a BPA-free can and make sure to rinse and drain them well. If you use dry beans, no problem! Make sure to cook and rinse them first so that you can easily digest them. You also don’t want to put raw dried beans in a blender… they could cause some damage!
Beets – Not only for the color but for the taste! I know beets are not for everyone, but hear me out. This earthy root vegetable is one of the best natural pre-workouts you can find. Beets contain nitrates which appear to affect physical performance by improving the efficiency of mitochondria (responsible for producing energy in your cells). However, it’s important to note that blood nitrate levels peak within 2–3 hours so to maximize their potential, it’s best to consume beets 2–3 hours before training or competing. At 3.4 g of Fiber, beetroots are a great way to improve digestive health if you can handle eating/drinking root vegetables/nightshades. Because they help improve blood flow, many have suggested they help with mental and cognitive function as well, helping to improve your memory! You can either eat/blend them raw or cooked: Raw contains more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than cooked. The longer you cook beets (especially in water), the more of the colorful phytonutrients leach out of the veg and into the water. To retain more nutrients, try roasting them or sautéing them instead. If you don’t want to cook and blend beets, I don’t blame you. Throw some of this in your blender with some spinach, and give it a blend. Much quicker, and just as effective! I’d suggest not wearing white while making the smoothie if you’re going to include beets, and I certainly would advise against wearing white while drinking this. Getting beets out of clothes is very difficult!
Herbs – Think Rosemary and orange or Basil, strawberry, and blueberry! The nutrients in this may be different than other leafy greens, but this is a great way to incorporate different flavor profiles into your smoothies. It can also make drinking a smoothie an all-day event. I may not want herbs in my morning smoothie, but perhaps I want a pina colada-type smoothie for the evening, in which case 5-10 Basil leaves would really make all the difference (so would some Rum, but that’s not a vegetable…)! Or this incredible-looking Green Power Mojito Smoothie, with the addition of some fresh Mint! I like to buy herbs and then wash and chop them all in one go. I then place them in an ice cube tray with juice or water so they’re ready to go when I need them. I find herbs go bad pretty quickly, and this has helped me preserve the flavor and nutrients for much longer.
Have you tried to use any of these ingredients in your smoothies before? Honestly, I was a bit scared to add things like Durian to my smoothie, but once I did, it made a huge difference in my taste buds. One thing I’ve realized is I can make a way better smoothie than any fast food joint I’ve been to and wouldn’t spend my money on a smoothie made by someone else. I like knowing where I’ve purchased my ingredients, how much I use, controlling my sugar and fat intake, etc. I like that I can make seasonal smoothies from home and use ingredients I already have in my fridge or freezer. I’m no longer scared to try to add a vegetable to my smoothies: broccoli, celery, zucchini… I’ve tried it all! Sure, not all of it tastes good, but I know if it isn’t great, I can still chug it and remember not to use that ingredient again!
Let me know in the comments below what your best and worst smoothie experience was. I hope this helps you venture out and try something new!
Chelsea has been active most of her life, which led her to become a Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor for the past 7 years. Health and Fitness are not solely dependent on movement, though, and with that understanding, she addresses her client’s other needs, such as diet, mindfulness, and stress management.
When she is not training clients or teaching Yoga, she is finding new activities that keep her mind and body active, such as hiking, photography, listening to podcasts, or playing video games. She is constantly working toward finding natural solutions to live a balanced lifestyle, inclusive Yoga for all body types, and aiming to find mindfulness in everything she does.