To make a smoothie the usual way, use a kitchen blender. A blender quickly chops and mixes together pieces of fruit and/ or veggies with the liquid such as milk, yogurt or juice. If you are using mashed fruit (like banana) or pureed fruit (such as berries, mango or peaches) a blender may not be necessary. Simply put the ingredients into a jar with a lid, a beverage shaker, or cup with a lid then vigorously shake the ingredients until you reach the desired consistency. Sprinkle with any toppings like cereal, trail mix, chopped nuts or seeds.
How do I choose my ingredients?
When you look at smoothie recipes, you’ll often find these four ingredients.
- Fruits or vegetables
- Yogurt or something of a similar consistency
- Milk, juice, or other liquids like water, green tea, or coffee
- Ice cubes or crushed ice
There is no single smoothie recipe. Adapt the recipe to your favorite foods or the foods you have on hand. Extra flavor can be added by including a ½ tsp. of vanilla or almond extract, a splash of mint flavoring, or 1 Tbs. of frozen lime or lemonade concentrate. The quantity of each ingredient varies depending on your tastes. You can also save time by making large serving and freezing for later. If you have difficulty swallowing or handling thick smoothies, thin the recipe by adding more liquid. If you need more thickness in your smoothie, add more fruit to the recipe. Frozen fruit gives you a thicker consistency and can be used instead of ice.
Suggested amounts of each ingredient for 1 serving may be:
- 1 cup to 1 ¼ cups of fruits or vegetables pieces
- 4 to 6 ounces of low-fat, plain, or Greek yogurt
- 4 ounces of milk, juice, water, or other fluid (Add more liquid if you use Greek yogurt.)
- 3-4 ice cubes or crushed ice cubes (Frozen fruit can be used instead of ice.)
Crush or chop ice in the blender. Add remaining ingredients to blender. Place the top on the blender. Blend for 20 to 30 seconds until ingredients are thick and smooth. Serve immediately or freeze for a later.
To add more protein and calories, stir in 1 Tbs. of peanut butter, other nut butters, or chopped nuts. Dry milk and egg white powders are also great sources of protein. If suggested by your healthcare team, a scoop of protein powder can give you an additional 6-8 grams of dietary protein. Use liquid nutritional supplements in place of water or milk for added nutrients and calories. Top off your smoothie with sprinkles of trail mix, carob chips or ground flax seeds. Enjoy!
What else do I need to know about smoothies?
Side Effects from Cancer or Treatments: If you’re struggling to maintain your body weight or if you have trouble swallowing, smoothie recipes are a great alternative to regular food. On days when you do not feel well, smoothies can be an easy-to-fix boost of nutrition and fluid to help get you through a rough day. If you don’t have much of an appetite or if you’re recovering from vomiting, try a smoothie to replenish fluids.
Sugar and Fat: Be cautious of smoothie recipes that call for more than 2-3 tsp. of sugar or 15 grams of sugar in the fruit juice. Also be careful with high-fat ingredients like nuts, nut butters, and avocado. One exception—if you are under weight or losing weight without trying, you may actually need the extra calories!
If you’re craving more sweetness in your smoothie simply use extra fruit in place of added sugars, extra juices, and sweetened yogurts. Ask your healthcare team or registered dietitian nutritionist which smoothie recipes are best for your health, type of cancer, and cancer treatments.
Alcohol: Many bars and restaurants add alcohol to cocktail smoothies such as margaritas or daiquiris. Usually alcohol is not recommended during cancer treatment or if you are eating healthy to reduce your risk of cancer. Ask your healthcare team if alcohol in small amounts (up to 1 drink daily for women, 2 drinks for men daily) is safe for you.
Food Safety: Practice food safety during smoothie preparation by washing your hands, washing fruit before cutting it, using a clean sanitized cutting board, and only add pasteurized milk or egg products. Smoothies must be refrigerated or frozen if not immediately consumed. These safety tips will reduce the risk of foodborne illness.