hand holding glass of green smoothie


Smoothies can go either way: an amazingly delicious vehicle for so much nutrition…or a hard to choke down mess. Believe me, I’ve been there. So I asked Jess Pirnak if she could share her formula for creating winning smoothies every single time and some nutritious smoothie recipes to shake up your morning routine!

Smoothies are a morning staple and freestyling is usually the name of the game. Toss together all kinds of greens, fruit, and other veggies into a blender and enjoy whatever crazy mixture comes out. But sometimes these crazy mixtures don’t turn out. Ever have a smoothie that was too bitter or earthy? Or a smoothie that was too sweet and left you hungry? So, to take the guesswork out of freestyling, we’ve created an easy smoothie formula for anyone who wants a well-balanced, nutritious and delicious drink.

Our formula for a nutritious smoothie

Following a smoothie formula might seem a little unnecessary but it’s so easy to overdo the fruit, minimize the veggies, or skip the protein and fat altogether! If you want a smoothie to serve as a nutritious meal – and not just a snack – adding protein and fat is critical because they give us long-lasting energy to power us through the day. Smoothies are a great way to eat more plants, so don’t miss your chance to sneak some added vegetables into diet.

It helps to do a bit of smoothie prep in advance to streamline your morning smoothie routine. Once a week, peel, chop and freeze several bananas and any other fruit that you have on hand. At the same time rinse large batches of greens to freeze so they stay fresh and are ready when you need them.

If you’re not doing the prep thing, to enjoy icy-cold smoothies just add ice to the blender.

Want to make a nutritious smoothie?

Follow this formula: liquid + protein + veggie + fruit + fat + topper

Step 1: Pick a liquid (1 1/2 – 2 cups)

Choose water, coconut water, herbal tea, unsweetened almond or cashew mylk for a lighter texture. Use unsweetened oat or soy mylk for a richer texture and a protein boost.  The more liquid you use, the thinner the shake will be. If adding fibre like psyllium or ground chia or flax, err on the side of more liquid.

Step 2: Pick a protein (1 serving or 1-2 tablespoons)

The larger your body size or more active you are, the more protein you need. Opt for 10-25 grams of protein in a smoothie.

Choose a protein powder (pumpkin seed, hemp, or pea) that contains 15-20g protein per scoop. Whole food options include 1/4 package soft tofu, 3 tablespoons hemp seeds (10g protein) or 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (11g protein).

Step 3: Pick a veggie (1-2 cups or handfuls)

Choose dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, beet greens or chard), cooked pumpkin or beets, cucumber or celery. Get adventurous by adding 1/2 cup steamed cauliflower or zucchini! 

Spinach is the best for those new to greens as it is very mild. Celery has a distinctive taste so start slow. And if you add celery or cucumber, you’ll need less liquid in your shake as these veggies are mostly water.

Step 4: Pick a fruit (1 or ½ – 1 cup)

Banana provides body and sweetness, berries add a ton of fibre. Apple, pear, pineapple are great for green smoothies, as is citrus. A 1 cm slice of lemon or lime will brighten up vegetable-based smoothies and tone down bitterness.

Step 5: Pick a fat (1-2 Tbsp)

Fats help slow down the absorption of your smoothie to keep your more full and satisfied. Fat also carries flavour, so it will make the smoothie tastier too! Try avocado (½ small), 1-2 teaspoons flaxseed or hemp seed oil, or 2 tablespoons cashews, almonds or walnuts.

Step 6: Pick a topper or two

Smoothie toppers (which you can actually put on top or blend in as appropriate) give you a bit of extra flavour and texture to liven up your smoothie. Try unsweetened shredded coconut, cacao nibs, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice mix, oats or granola.

So there you have it: follow this formula, and you’ll never be starving a half hour after your breakfast again! The longer you create smoothies, the most instinctive the combinations will become – but if you need some flavour inspiration, here are five yummy smoothie recipes to get you started!

Tropical Mango Spinach Smoothie

Sweet tropical flavours of the mango and banana make this smoothie perfect for warm spring days. Customize by adding pineapple or more mango for a sweeter smoothie or boost up the veggies with mild-tasty spinach and you’ll never know it is there!  

2 cups unsweetened almond milk, 1 scoop of unflavoured protein powder, 2 cups fresh or frozen spinach, ½ frozen banana, ½ cup frozen mango, ½ small avocado, 1 tsp unsweetened shredded coconut

Beet Red Velvet Smoothie 

Smoothies are a great way to get the health benefits of beets without the mess! Use them raw in this earthy smoothie or try roasting them and removing the skin first. Beets taste delicious with chocolate, so for all the chocolate lovers out there, this smoothie is for you!

2 cups unsweetened cashew milk, 3 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 beet, ½ frozen banana, ½ cup frozen strawberries, 2 dates (for sweetness), 1 tbsp hemp seed oil, 3 tbsp raw cacao powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract

Pumpkin Pie Green Smoothie 

This comforting, refreshing, feel good smoothie will have you reminiscing of your last Thanksgiving dinner. Pumpkins are a nutrition powerhouse and should not be overlooked plus they make a great creamy smoothie.

2 cups unsweetened oat milk, 1 scoop of unflavoured protein powder, ½ cup pumpkin puree, 1-½ cup frozen spinach, 1 frozen banana, 1 tbsp walnuts, ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice mix

Tofu Green Smoothie

Tofu in a smoothie? You bet! Tofu is perfect for a plant-based thick smoothie. The flavor hides really well so don’t worry if you’re not a tofu fan.

2 cups unsweetened almond milk, 1 serving of soft organic tofu (usually 1/4 package), 2 cups of de-stemmed kale, 1 frozen banana, 1 Tbsp flax seed oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract

Dreaming of Summer Coconut Water Smoothie

Coconut water and cucumbers are the perfect combination for a refreshing smoothie. Just remember you might not need as much liquid in this smoothie as cucumbers are mostly water. This one has less protein than the others…so feel free to boost it with some protein powder. The countdown to summer is on!

2 cups coconut water, 2 tbsp of cashew butter, 1 ½ cups frozen spinach, ½ cucumber, 1 cup pineapple, ½ avocado, unsweetened shredded coconut    

As you become more and more of a smoothie connoisseur, feel free to customize the formula to work better for you. For instance, if you think the smoothies are tasting too sweet, decrease the amount of fruit you put in them. Or if you are looking for a creamier smoothie use tofu as your protein or an avocado as your fat. And remember, less liquid will give you a thicker shake, while more liquid will give you a thinner shake. Food, including your smoothie, should taste delicious – so make it tasty with your personalized tweaks!