Whether you are always on the go or you have trouble choking down your recommended servings of fruits and veggies, smoothies are the perfect way to pack a lot of nutrition into an easy-to-down liquid package.

Make the perfect smoothie, every time, with our top tips.

Fruits

Fruit is the base for every smoothie and provides the bulk. If your fruit is frozen you don't need ice, but if it's fresh, you'll need equal parts. Always throw in a banana, because they are good for you, but also because they are the sweetest fruit, instantly sweetening up your smoothie without overwhelming it with flavor and giving it a creamy texture.

Try: Banana, strawberries, all berries, mango, and pineapples

TIP: Avoid fruits with skin or bitter-tasting pith, like oranges, apples and grapes. You'll throw off the flavor and you'll end up chewing your smoothie instead of drinking it (although a little extra fiber never hurt everyone.)

Veggies

Your smoothie is a  great place to add some extra servings of veggies, especially greens. Only use mild flavored veggies like squash, spinach or kale, or add carrot juice to your liquid base.

Try: spinach, kale, gingerroot, sweet potato, squash, carrots, celery

TIP: Spinach freezes perfectly and lasts for ever (almost). The leaves freeze individually so they don't clump together. Buy fresh and put the whole container in the freezer so you can just grab handfuls and toss them in your blender.

Proteins

You don't have to add protein but if your smoothie is post workout or a meal replacement, it's a good idea to add a little protein, to help build lean muscle mass and keep you full.

Try: Protein powders, nut butters, yogurt

TIP: If you are using powders, add it in last. If you put it in before the liquid it will cake in the bottom and not blend into your drink while making a huge pain to clean afterward.

Liquid

Liquid always comes last because the amount depends on how many solids you have in your blender. Fill until the liquid line reaches just the top of the solid stuff. Blend.

Try: milk (cow, soy, almond) 100% juice, water, coconut water

TIP: If your smoothie won't blend, first check to see if there is an air bubble, the most likely culprit. Remove the blender from the base and gently tap the bottom against the counter, tilting it at an angle, so the air bubble works its way to the top. Try again. If not, then add a little more liquid.

Extras!

Throw in a little something extra for nutrition and yum factor.

Try: flax seed, hemp seed, chia (although chia thickens considerably, so beware) ginger, shredded coconut, or nuts if you like chunks.

More tips:

Save all your little bits of uneaten fruit, or fruit that's about to turn in a large ziplock and keep it in your freezer so you always have frozen fruit on hand and you never let your fruit go to waste.

Freeze any extra smoothie left in the bottom of your blender in ice cube trays. Pop them into your next smoothie so you never miss a drop.

by Kelly Turner

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