What is a smoothie?

If you’re brand-new to smoothies, this article will give you all the juicy details! What is a smoothie and who invented them? Read on to find out.

spinach smoothie in glasses.

What’s in a smoothie?

A smoothie is a blended drink made by pureeing fruit and liquid in a blender. It’s typically made with frozen fruit or ice to give it a cold, thick, and shake-like consistency.

Smoothies come in a ton of flavors, but are meant to taste sweet from fruit or juice. They can include veggies, greens, yogurt, nuts or nut butter, oats, chia seeds, protein powder, or milk. The options and flavor combinations are endless.

vanilla smoothie.

History of Smoothies:

Who invented the smoothie? The short answer is, it depends on how far back you go. For the sake of this article, we’re going to start with the invention of the blender in 1922. But don’t get too excited, the blender wasn’t invented for fruit smoothies, but for milk shakes and malts at soda shops.

While smoothies appeared in Waring blender recipe booklets in the 40’s, it wasn’t a household term until much later.

In the United States, smoothies weren’t really a thing until the 60’s and 70’s. During this time, health food stores popped up along the west coast and then around the country. They sold fresh fruit juices and drinks to their health-conscious customers.

The first American-style smoothie is credited to a soda jerk who couldn’t tolerate a milkshake, Steve Kuhnau. He experimented with different fruits, ice, and vitamin blends to create a delicious beverage he could enjoy.

He then went on to develop the first well-known smoothie chain, Smoothie King. Smoothie chains popularized the once obscure smoothie into a familiar household term and drink!

chocolate smoothies.

Types of Smoothies:

These days, smoothies are made in nearly any flavor you can come up with. Most smoothies are fruit-based to make them pleasantly sweet, even green, chocolate, and coffee smoothies!

Fruit: Fruit smoothies are made up of fresh and frozen fruits. Think banana, berries, mangoes, pineapple, cherries, or peaches.

Green: Green smoothies are typically fruit based, but with leafy greens too! Spinach and kale are popular choices, but Swiss chard and fresh herbs are great options too.

green apple smoothies

Chocolate: Chocolate smoothies taste more like a chocolate shake. They typically contain cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, or chocolate protein powder. Frozen bananas are a common sweetener for chocolate-based smoothies.

Coffee: Coffee smoothies are all the rage! These smoothies use cold coffee as the liquid base. It adds a jolt of caffeine and rich, coffee flavor.

Protein: Protein smoothies are high in protein and come in green, fruit, and chocolate flavors. A common ingredient in these smoothies is protein powder. Protein powders are nutritional supplements made of powdered protein derived from plants, eggs, or milk.

Dessert: The main difference between regular and dessert smoothies is nutritional value. Dessert smoothies are made to taste like a sweet treat and include unhealthy ingredients like ice cream, sweetened syrups, and frozen yogurt.

Smoothie bowls: Smoothie bowls are ultra-thick smoothies with a scoopable consistency served in a bowl with a spoon! Ideal for crunchy and sweet toppings.

smoothie bowl with toppings

Thickness of Smoothies:

Smoothies are thicker than juice, this is due to frozen ingredients like fruit or ice. The thickness of a smoothie depends on the ratio of frozen ingredients to a liquid base.

The more frozen fruit or ice, the thicker the smoothie will be. The more liquid, the thinner it will be. Frozen fruit creates a smoother consistency than ice. I highly recommend frozen fruit over ice as a thickener.

smoothie ingredients in a blender

How to Make a Smoothie:

Smoothies are super simple to make! You just need a blender, frozen fruit, and a liquid like juice or milk. I highly recommend adding a creamy element too, like a fresh banana, yogurt, or peanut butter.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Place the ingredients in the blender, starting with the soft ingredients. Placing the soft ingredients closest to the blades helps get the ingredients moving and creates a creamier consistency.
  2. Add the liquid. Some recipes instruct to add the liquid first. This isn’t necessary because the liquid sinks to the bottom anyway.
  3. Blend until creamy and smooth. If the ingredients aren’t moving, stop the blender and add a little bit more liquid. Blend again.
  4. Serve immediately. Smoothies can be stored in the fridge, but taste best fresh and frosty cold!

Are Smoothies Nutritious?

While most people equate smoothies with healthy ingredients, this isn’t always the case! Smoothies are only as healthy as you make them.

The healthiest smoothies contain whole foods like fruits, vegetables, yogurt, nut butter, and healthy fats without added or refined sugar. The more nutrient-dense the ingredients are, the healthier the smoothie will be!

It’s best to avoid refined sugar like concentrated fruit juice, sweetened syrups, ice cream, and sweetened yogurts.

frozen fruit, greens, avocado, plant milk.

Smoothies vs. Shakes

The main difference between smoothies and shakes is the intent behind them.

Shakes are desserts meant to taste delicious with little to no emphasis on healthy ingredients. Shakes are typically made with ice cream or other full-fat dairy ingredients and lots of added sugar.

Smoothies have a shake-like consistency, but the emphasis is more on health than shakes. Smoothies are centered around fruit instead of ice cream and meant to provide vitamins, nutrients, and energy.

watermelon pineapple smoothie.

Smoothies vs. Juice

Smoothies and juice are very similar with a few key differences. Both offer health benefits! Fresh juice is made by extracting the liquid from a fruit or vegetable, usually with a juicer.

A smoothie blends the whole fruit or vegetable which creates a thicker texture with added fiber and nutrients from the skins, seeds, and flesh. Smoothies incorporate protein and healthy fats too! You can add ingredients like Greek yogurt, nuts, chia seeds, oats, and tofu.

strawberry cucumber smoothie

Smoothie FAQs:

Who invented the smoothie?

There’s some debate on when exactly smoothies were invented, but Steve Kuhnau is credited with popularizing the smoothie throughout the United States with his national chain, Smoothie King. Before Smoothie King, smoothies weren’t a familiar term nor a popular beverage made at home.

Do smoothies have ice?

Not all smoothies contain ice. Most smoothies contain either frozen fruit or ice. The frozen ingredients are what give it a thick, shake-like consistency. Frozen fruit creates a smoother texture than ice does.

Smoothie Recipes:

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