Check out these nutritionist-approved picks—plus how to make even healthier versions at home.
There's no doubt about it: the smoothie trend is here to stay. Many of my clients drink one every day; and some even prefer an icy blend to eating a solid meal. The only trouble is, there’s no standard smoothie formula—so the nutritional quality of these drinks can vary wildly. If you’re not careful, you could easily sip several spoonfuls of added sugar, or consume a day's worth of calories(!) in a single serving. To make sure you're getting a good mix of healthy ingredients, stick with these RD-approved orders at Jamba Juice, Robeks, and Planet Smoothie. And to healthy up your beverage even more, check out my recipes for versions you can whip up at home.
Choose the Tropical Greens
I love that it's made with clean, simple ingredients: just fresh apple juice, pineapple, spinach, kale, chia seeds, and ice, with no added sugar. A 12-ounce serving contains 160 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 35 grams of carb, with 4 grams as fiber, and 3 grams of protein.
DIY version: To round out the macronutrient balance and bump up the fiber in this smoothie, blend a small whole cored green apple with a half cup of frozen pineapple, a half cup each of fresh spinach and kale, a quarter of a ripe avocado, a tablespoon of chia seeds, one scoop of plant-based protein powder (I personally like Naked Pea vanilla), ice, and enough water to create your preferred consistency. To further boost the smoothie's antioxidants and anti-inflammatory power, toss in a one-inch cube of fresh peeled ginger root. Yes, the numbers go up, but it’s now a complete meal you can enjoy for breakfast, or as a post-workout recovery drink. New stats: 330 calories, 11 grams of fat, 44 grams of carb with 13 grams as fiber, and 18.5 grams of protein.
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Order the Queen of All Greens
If you’re looking to fill a gap in your veggie intake, this smoothie can help. Made with fresh kale, fresh spinach, pineapple, banana, and apple juice, a small contains 180 calories, 0 grams of fat, 42 grams of carb with 3 grams as fiber, and 2 grams of protein.
DIY version: For a similar refreshing mix packed with veggies, blend together a half cup each of spinach and kale, a quarter cup each of peeled sliced cucumber and chopped green bell pepper, a half cup of sliced banana, a tablespoon of fresh lime juice, one quarter cup unsweetened almond milk, one quarter cup water, three fresh mint leaves, and a handful of ice. This lighter version provides 180 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 39 grams of carb with 4 grams as fiber, and 3 grams of protein.To get more nutrition tips, sign up for the HEALTH newsletter
Get the Chocolate Chimp for a chocolate fix
Sometimes a decadent smoothie can satisfy your sweet tooth and keep you from ordering a milkshake, or devouring a pint of ice cream. Made with cocoa, bananas, vanilla, honey, and whey protein, a 16-ounce Chocolate Chimp contains 200 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 49 grams of carb with 4 grams as fiber, and 14 grams of protein.
DIY version: Try mixing one tablespoon raw cocoa powder, a half cup of sliced banana, one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, one teaspoon of honey, a half cup of plain grass-fed Greek yogurt, one tablespoon almond butter, one quarter teaspoon ground cinnamon, and a handful of ice. That healthy blend contains 275 calories, 13.5 grams of fat, 33 grams of carb with 5 grams as fiber, and 8.5 grams of protein.
Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees.