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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: January 2024

The Quest for the Perfect Smoothie

Seth D Kramer


  • Although individual stores can have different names for particular smoothies, they all use similar ingredients such as bananas, blueberries, strawberries, almond butter, dates, honey, kale, flax seed, and spirulina.
  • Smoothies can be somewhat deceptive in their health benefits and can be high in sugar and calories.
The Quest for the Perfect Smoothie
Yiu Yu Hoi via Getty Images

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I like smoothies. I like them a lot. Whenever I go on a trip—be it Glasgow, Scotland, or Leucadia, California—I will often Google the phrase “smoothies near me.” And always something will come up—usually a juice bar or a health food store.

What is a smoothie? Wikipedia defines a smoothie as “a beverage made by pureeing ingredients in a blender.” Although the actual history of the smoothie is somewhat unclear, some form of the smoothie has been around since ancient times. “For hundreds of years,” according to, “Mediterranean and Eastern cultures have served pureed fruit drinks that resemble what we call smoothies.” And the site further points out that with the advent of refrigeration and the blender, smoothies became much more accessible. Alternatively, states, “The concept of the smoothie actually first appeared around the 1930s when health food stores on the West Coast began adapting Brazilian recipes and began selling these puréed fruit drinks.”

Despite this confusion around the smoothie’s origin, by all accounts, smoothies are very popular. According to QSR magazine, the current size of the smoothie market is $27.2 billion, and “is expected to reach $52.5 billion in 10 years.”

Coupled with this market rise is the popularity of portable smoothie blenders for home use. Ads for these items are all over cable TV. A quick review of Amazon listed more than 30 portable blenders starting at around $20. All with various features.

One of the things I have always found fascinating about stores that make and sell smoothies is the creativity used in designing and naming the drinks. In researching this article, there did not seem to be any pro-forma or standard smoothie menu that stores could modify for their individual use. And in my own non-scientific, anecdotal survey of smoothie store owners, most replied with a shrug that the recipes, descriptions, and names just happened.

Although individual stores can have different names for particular smoothies, they all use similar ingredients. Bananas, blueberries, strawberries, almond butter, dates, honey, kale, flax seed, spirulina, and whey are standard. Liquid bases include dairy, non-dairy, and various juice alternatives.

Smoothies can be somewhat deceptive in their health benefits. Depending on what the smoothie is made from, the drink can be high in sugar and calories. “The smoothie you drink,” as the website points out, “is only as healthy as the ingredients used to make it.”

As a result it is advisable to avoid items that will clearly add calories and/or sugar to a smoothie. Things such as flavored yogurt, protein powders full of sugar, whole milk, and dried fruit are probably best to avoid. There are even some smoothies that include ice cream. And as says, any smoothie “can cause weight gain if you aren’t careful about what you put in it.”

However, when done right, a smoothie can serve as a good meal substitute. “It can be a convenient meal replacement as long as you’re making sure that it really is replacing the meal,” according to dietitian Lorraine Fye in an article on

Despite all these possible pitfalls, I prefer buying a smoothie to making my own. And in my search for the perfect smoothie, I have a few dos and don’ts.

First off, I am not a big fan of a “green” smoothie. These smoothies are usually vegetable based, with the green color usually coming from kale or spinach, neither of which I find appealing in a smoothie.

I also avoid fruit juice–based smoothies. It is my understanding that fruit juices typically contain all of the sugar minus most of the fiber from the fruit in its natural form. “Fiber is linked with health benefits including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes,” according to “Fiber also helps you feel fuller longer, and that can help control your weight.”

Whenever I go into any smoothie shop for the first time, I always order the same smoothie. Despite the unique menu in a non-chain smoothie shop, I have found that most stores have some variation of the following smoothie.

I like the base to be a banana. This adds a creamy texture and a not-too-sweet taste to the smoothie. And if the banana is frozen, an appropriate level of coldness is added to the smoothie without the overkill of adding ice.

Then, as a liquid, I like to include almond or oat milk. Both these choices have less sugar and calories than whole milk. I also like a nut butter—such as almond or peanut. This provides protein and also adds to the flavor, making for a more hearty drink.

And then—the most important ingredient for me—there are dates, which add natural sweetness. In fact, it is one of my “deal killers” in ordering a smoothie if dates are not included.

However, as I indicated, most places that sell smoothies will have some variation of a drink featuring all of the above.

For add-ons to my order, I like to include chia seeds. Again, these seeds are usually available at most places that sell smoothies. I find that chia seeds provide additional texture to the drink and do not change the flavor profile. And chia seeds have numerous health benefits. “They are nutrient dense and rich in fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants,” as states, and the seeds are a good source of plant-based protein.

And then I have a nice-tasting banana date smoothie. Usually unique to the place that made it, but familiar enough to me that it’s very comfortable to enjoy. The perfect smoothie for me. One of life’s simple pleasures.