Wellness warriors in the know agree: There’s pretty much no better way to get your day going than with a protein-packed, energizing smoothie. You can sip them on the run often, grabbing your go-to blend from a nearby spot no matter how much time you have (usually: none). But what if you could make your favorite smoothie at home, save tons of money in the process, and actually take a few minutes to enjoy it rather than downing it on the go?
Thanks to some inspiration from Eric Helms, smoothie expert and founder and CEO of New York-based Juice Generation, dreams of an at-home smoothie bar are actually achievable. When he can’t run over to one of his 20 locations to whip up a favorite blend, Helms relies on his at-home-smoothie game. His top tips for making it work? Avoid flavor palate burnout, and keep it simple.
Keep reading for tips on how to build your own smoothie bar at home.
Procure your equipment and stockpile non-perishables
At Juice Generation and at home, Helms uses the super powerful, professional-grade BlendTech blender, but to kick start your own smoothie-ready kitchen, Helms recommends grabbing the moderately priced, storage-friendly, NutriBullet.
“The NutriBullet is a perfect start. It’s inexpensive and has a little power to it,” he says. “And, with smoothies, you are working with frozen fruits so you need something a little more powerful.” Bonus? They have a removable lid that makes them a breeze to clean.
Next up: The ingredients. Your first instinct might be to hit the produce aisle, but to make sure that you don't buy up tons of fruit and then have it all go bad, opt instead for non-perishable items to be the base of your smoothie. “Probably like a lot of New Yorkers, I work a lot and have a lot going on, so I don’t always have time to run to the market for fresh produce,” he says. “I always like having a lot of non-perishable items like nut butters, seeds, and dry goods that are always there.” His top picks: pistachios, figs, and dates for a little bit of sweetness.
Then, prep your freezer space with plenty of options
If you’re a meal prep aficionado, you know it's easy to add in a few moments at the beginning of your week to make it easier to whip up your smoothies in a flash. Helms' favorite fruits, bananas and avocados, are known to brown quickly so he saves time (and the food from going bad) by pre-sectioning single servings of each (a half a cup to a cup servings), placing them in bags, and freezing. You can also purchase already frozen favorites like blueberries and strawberries, or buy fresh fruits and freeze for the week ahead. Alternately, Juice Generation also has its famed BIY (Blend it Yourself) smoothies that have the perfect amount of each ingredient for a fully-prepped smoothie; all you have to do is add your favorite milk and whip them up.
“Then just add your favorite nut milk and protein, and blend,” he says. And, pro tip: “For the bananas, make sure you cut the little black tips off before freezing," he says. "It will never blend.”
And to be sure that you don't get stuck in your banana, almond milk, almond butter rut, give your palate something to get excited and you'll be inspired on the reg. “Boredom can set in really quickly if you’re whipping up the same flavor combination every day,” Helms says. “To address this, I love to add oats. It gives it a nice, creamy texture and is really filling.”
For another fresh spin, flavor your smoothies with a few tablespoons of fresh herbs like basil and mint. “Herbs are simple to grow at home, too,” Helms says. ‘Just reserve some window sill space.”
Lastly, make it a meal
A smoothie is clearly a nourishing way to start your day, but to avoid mid-day (or, let's be real, mid-morning) hunger, Helms adds protein. His go-to is chocolate plant protein from Garden of Life; and he swears adding it will make your smoothie more like a meal.
Lately he's been downing a healthy variation on Cherry Garcia ice cream that he calls the Cherry Bomb. “I use eight to ten ounces of almond milk with chocolate plant protein and five ounces of frozen tart cherries, which are always on hand in my freezer,” he says. Next, he says, add a few cacao nibs, two dates to sweeten, half a frozen banana, and a teaspoon of coconut oil. And as Helms says, “You’ll be hooked.’
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