Smoothies - Regular Blender? Nutribullet? Ninja Something? - Recipes?

Updated on September 22, 2014
M.H. asks from Madison, WI
15 answers

Hey everyone,

I've been interested in getting started with smoothies for a while now.
I have a few questions for those that are making smoothies.

I would like to start making smoothies to maybe get closer to 5-8 veggies per day.
So I would like some ideas for good tasting smoothies that include vegetables. I also watch my sugar/calorie/fat gram intake so I'm probably more interested in low sugar, low fat, low cal recipes if there are hopefully some good ones. Thanks!

Also, can a person just use a regular blender or are there certain reasons people are moving to the smoothie 'machines'?
I know for one I like how small they look because it would take up less counter space.
What smoothie 'machine' do you recommend and why?

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answers from Anchorage on

I love my kitchen aid blender, it was a little pricy compared to some other models but it works so well that for me, it was worth every penny. Especially because I usually prep and then freeze my berries for use and sometimes a cheap blender can not handle them frozen and you end up with big frozen chunks.

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answers from Denver on

If you're going to be using primarily softer foods like bananas, yogurt, berries, etc., then a regular blender or small machine designed specifically for smoothies will work.

However, if you want to add in carrots, greens like kale or spinach, apples, oats, cashews, etc., then you may want a more powerful machine.

Round containers like those on traditional blenders don't pulverize foods as smoothly as square shaped containers. In a round container, the foods whirl around, while in a square shaped container, the foods cannot just rotate. They hit the sides, and are drawn into the blades.

I have a Vitamix and although it's expensive, it is heavy-duty and I use it to make soups, purees, sauces, smoothies and all kinds of foods.

My sister-in-law has a Ninja and although she's had to send it in for service, and wasn't entirely satisfied with their customer service, she is able to make substantial smoothies with it.

A regular blender may not make a smoothie that's very smooth. If texture is important to you, and you want a very well blended smoothie, you might want a more powerful machine. A powerful multi-purpose blender will make a better blend, a smoother smoothie.

Just some comparison points for you to think about.

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answers from Washington DC on

Regular cheap old blender.

If a banana's getting too ripe --cut it into chunks, put them in a baggie and freeze. Grapes getting old -- wash and freeze them. Any fruit that's getting older or is only half eaten -- clean and freeze in smallish chunks. This is fantastic as your frozen base for a smoothie (I fiind they need at least some kind of frozen fruit or frozen cooked vegetable because I like the texture of some iciness). I have read that our tastebuds don't work as well on frozen foods, so if you want to use veggies but don't love the taste (like me with broccoli), cook them then freeze them in small chunks to add to a smoothie. All the benefits, less of a strong taste and blends easier with other tastes.

Bear in mind -- in a blender, a smoothie with frozen items or fresh cut veg or fruit is going to have a LOT of texture. Not chunky but there will be a ton of bits in it from grape peel, tiny seeds from berries etc. I love it but some people wouldn't so only you know if you are great with it or grossed out by it.

I use a lot of unsweetened almond milk as a base because it tastes great and gives a wonderful nutty taste. I find unsweetened, plain (not vanilla-flavored) almond milk to be very sweet and don't want the extra calories and chemicals of vanilla-flavored or sweetened. I haven't tried it yet but coconut milk and coconut water could be other options for the main liquid. Water is always great to use for a thin smoothie. And you can add yogurt or not - sometimes only a little yogurt is enough to make a smoothie creamy. Remember, yogurts add sugar and calories. I'd use a Greek style one (tons more protein than any regular yogurt -- compare labels!).

You really can make them however you like and find combinations you love. I do find that any berries will dominate the flavor, and if there are no berries, but a banana's in the mix, the banana flavor dominates. Do some taste testing of your own!

One last thing. Clean that blender the very instant you're done -- go directly to the sink and rinse it very well before you drink your smoothie or the many bits from the ingredients will stick in it like glue. Just rinse very well, and wash well later. I just wash it fast by hand as soon as I've poured out the smoothie. Saves a lot of scrubbing later if it dries in there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I know that many people are hot on this juicing/ smoothy thing. I am not. I think it is probably better for you to just eat your fruit and veg. If you laid out 5-8 servings of fruit/ veg, that would be a substantial volume of food. If you drink it, it is consumed very quickly, and if you aren't careful, you might end up eating more calories overall.

Good luck,
F. B.

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answers from Boston on

I have a Magic Bullet that we've had for ages and it works great for my smoothies. If I were to buy one now, I would go with the Nutri Bullet. I love the Bullet because it's tiny, you can pack it when you travel (I brought it with me on vacation), you drink out of the same container you mix in (one less thing to clean) and the blade piece takes about 30 seconds to clean.

If you have regular blender already then start with that and then if you know you like this and want to keep going, treat yourself to a Bullet.

As for many people turn their smoothies into sugar bombs with way too much fruit, yogurt and the like. If you want to start with fruit, go for fruits with a low glycemic load, such as berries, cherries, kiwi, and peaches and use sparingly - a 1/2 cup to 1 cup is plenty. Avoid bananas if you're watching your sugar as they are pretty high in sugar. Baby spinach has a flavor that blends right in with what you're making - if you can get past the mud color it turns your drink, then it's a good way to ease into veggies. I find kale to have too strong of a flavor for my liking but many people like a kale leaf added in. A slice of avocado (1/4 to 1/2 of the fruit, depending on the side) adds a nice, smooth texture, has no taste, and adds good fat. Other ways to get in good fats are to add a tablespoon of nut butters (almond, cashew), soaked seeds (chia, pumpkin, flax, hemp, sunflower) or soaked nuts. I also like to add in 1/4 cup of coconut cream or some unsweetened coconut flakes. My base liquids are either almond or coconut milk, I use a product called Perfect Paleo Protein as my protein powder, add in a scoop of powdered greens, then add either nut butter, nuts or seeds and sometimes some fruit and/or spinach.

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answers from Austin on

Hint, check craigslist for these. I see them listed many times, for way lower than retail. Many of them say only used a few times.. etc.

I just used a really good blender at the time. Now I have the ninja and it is great.. Beware the blades are VERY sharp..

I used to make fruit smoothies almost every school morning for breakfast when our daughter was in elementary and middle school. It was the only thing that would not upset her stomach.

I purchased the bananas that were ripe from the store. Many time $2.00 for a whole Brown grocery bag! I would bring them home, peel them and wrap each one in a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Then place as many as possible in a large zip lock for the freezer.

Then depending on what was in season I would freeze Strawberries, sliced peaches, cut up pineapple, sliced mangoes.. Or I would purchase frozen fruit from Costco.

I would add 1 banana, and a cup of another fruit and then about a cup and a half of organic apple juice then blend, completely.

It was easy to add spinach, wheat germ, carrots or some carrot juice to all of this.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

We have a Nutribullet and love it. As others have said, a good blender will work for yogurt and soft fruit type smoothies, but if you want to use raw veggies you'll need something more. I have friends that have the Ninja and like it too - basically same thing as a Nutribullet. They come with recipe books too.

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answers from Sacramento on

A regular blender.

We bought a pricey Vitamix blender when our son was going through eating disorder treatment and we needed to sneak veggies into his milkshakes. Honestly, it never "wow'd" me the way I expected. It's pretty much just a blender. I don't know what I expected, but I didn't see any difference between the Vitamix and the blender we had been using ... it just blends.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We just use a blender. Greek low fat/no fat yogurt, (or frozen yogurt) fruit & vanilla almond milk. Strawberries and bananas is a usual here.


answers from Norfolk on

We got a Nutribullet last Christmas and we love it!
It's easy to use and easy to clean.
What ever you get, if it's not easy to clean you won't be using it very often.
Most often we make fruit smoothies (bananas, berries, mangoes, peaches, etc) but it works well with beets, baby carrots, spinach and other veggies.
You can also puree veggies to add into soups and stews.
There are tons of smoothie recipes out there (Google them) and once you have an idea what you like you can experiment to make your own.
Add in some steel cut oatmeal or flax seeds for more fiber (you can always add in some Benefiber too).


answers from Jacksonville on

I bought a Ninja Pro when our son was getting braces and a herbst device installed, and I expected he would need to drink his nutrition for a few days. (turned out he was mostly fine after a day).

Anyway, my husband has co-opted it into his daily smoothie maker. He doesn't have a lot of sugar in his. Low carb protein powder (with whey protein), ice, greek yogurt (low sugar, high protein), almond milk (30 cal per cup and he doesn't use a whole cup even), a dollop of smart balance peanut butter, and a banana.


Lots of protein, good fats, probiotics, and not a lot of calories. :)
Oh, and I agree with Mel, to rinse the blender immediately or gunk becomes like cement. I read somewhere once that the best thing is to rinse it out/dump, and then add a drop or three of dish soap, add water, and run it again (hit the puree button or something). It cleans the blades without you having to do it by hand and risk getting cut, or having to wait to run a load in the dishwasher. It works great.



answers from Phoenix on

I love my Ninja! I've always loved smoothies and have one for lunch every day. I think I spent $50 on it at target. Doesn't take up much space and crushes ice like no blender I've ever had.


answers from Boston on

We just use a plain old $20 Osterizer and see no need for an expensive thing for smoothies only. It does everything.

The thing with smoothies is that there is no recipe! You just use up what you have and it's a great use for things that have gone a little soft (like the edges of cut green and red peppers that are getting a little too soggy for a salad but are not in any way moldy or past their prime). We tend to use regular products such as low sodium vegetable juice and then add what we want. Kale, spinach, peppers etc. are all good. We dilute with water too.

For dairy type bases, we use milk (any type) or thin it with water. We don't spend money on things like almond milk which are really overpriced - we just add sliced almonds to regular milk or soy milk. For fruits, we often add a little unsweetened pineapple juice instead of milk (it's a natural anti-inflammatory) and then add fruits as needed - frozen fruits work great and are much cheaper especially out of season. They chill the smoothie and chop up just fine. Using regular fruit, put in the tops of strawberries and parts of apple cores (maybe minus the seeds) and anything else you would normally discard. Again, use up fruits that are a little bruised or going soft. Don't stay away from fruit because of sugar - the fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients are really important. A too-soft avocado is a good addition.

For anything milk or water based, you can add plain unsweetened cocoa powder (virtually no calories), peanut butter, bananas or strawberries or other berries. (Anything that goes in an ice cream flavor is usually good with chocolate, including almonds and walnuts.)

For anything tomato based, I add in the tops of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, celery, onion, anything that would go in gazpacho. I add in wheat germ or ground flax seeds too. (And by the way, the blender is a perfect machine for gazpacho - a great way to use up the last tomatoes and other produce of summer! I add about 1/2 Tblsp of olive oil to the mix and it all holds together when chilled. I top it with some additional chopped veggies like onions and peppers.)

I don't use Benefiber as someone suggested - I don't think it's a good fiber product. I agree that extra fiber is needed even on top of what people get in their regular food, but I use something that has soluble and insoluble fiber together which is what food scientists recommend.

Don't forget to add what's at the bottom of a bag of nuts (the crumbs) or even what's at the bottom of a box of cereal (grape nuts is a good example) - it's all fiber and some healthy fats.

So go ahead and use your imagination - and don't bother with an expensive machine. Overall, a blender is much better than a juicer which deletes all the pulp and fiber from fruits.


answers from San Francisco on

We've always just used a regular blender. We have a Ninja blender now and it's awesome, POWERFUL, with a sharp blade, important when you're blending ice or frozen fruit (or making margaritas!)
My girls love fruit smoothies, usually strawberry, banana, pineapple combos, with orange, apple and/or cranberry juice.
If you get on Pinterest you'll find tons of recipes and ideas, a lot more than you'll get here.



answers from Baton Rouge on

A regular blender will work just fine.

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