The 5 Least Obtrusive Veggies To Add To Your Smoothie
One of the easiest ways to infuse our mornings, or afternoons, with some extra nutrient-rich vegetables is adding them to a smoothie—but that doesn't mean we want our smoothies tasting abundantly of veggies.
To narrow down the overwhelming produce section, we turned to Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, a nutrition expert and author of Smoothies & Juices, for her advice on ideal ingredients that won't necessarily make your drink taste like, well, vegetables. Here, she shares her favorite veggies to keep stocked for smoothie-blending (and exactly why she digs them):
1. Baby spinach
"The best veggie to add to your smoothie, without even noticing it, is baby spinach," says Largeman-Roth. "Baby spinach is very tender and doesn't have a strong flavor, so it works very well in smoothies." While it might change the color of your mixture a bit, that doesn't mean the taste comes through.
Without affecting the flavor, adding spinach provides a good dose of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and prebiotic fiber—notably, beta-carotene, vitamins A and K, and lutein. It's also a great plant-based source of iron, magnesium, and folate. Beyond just green smoothies, spinach blends seamlessly into any of your go-to healthy smoothie recipes.
2. Frozen cauliflower
"Frozen cauliflower may sound like an odd addition, but it's actually great," she explains. "Frozen cauliflower is a bit milder than fresh and blends easily into any type of smoothie, though you do want to have some naturally sweet fruit in the mix, like a banana, berries, or juice."
We almost always have cauliflower on hand—it's the ultimate multitasking veggie—and we love the idea of tossing it in the blender, too. In this setting, it works as a great textural addition and a flavor-neutral option for bulking out the mix. This trusty cruciferous veggie can also help improve blood sugar management while supporting gut health and heart health.
3. Cooked sweet potato or butternut squash
In a lot of ways, sweet potato and squash were Largeman-Roth's most surprising suggestions, though when you slow down to think about the flavor profiles and textures, it makes a whole lot more sense. "These naturally sweet and starchy veggies make a nice addition to smoothies," she says. "Start with just ½ cup cooked, or your smoothie may get too thick." They're also sources of beta-carotene, which helps support immunity.
Using these naturally sweet veggies means the weight of sweetening the mix isn't entirely on the fruits, which means you can pair them with more acidic options like oranges. They also hold up well to spice: a bit of ginger, cinnamon, or turmeric wouldn't go awry in a smoothie with these for a base and would add nutritional benefits of their own.
One of our go-to snackable items (especially paired with hummus), carrots shouldn't be stuck in the savory snacking category. "Shredded carrots are a fun, sweet-earthy addition to smoothies," Largeman-Roth says.
She notes that carrots work particularly "nicely with peaches and apricots, as well as yogurt or coconut milk." Their earthy flavor balances these sweeter ingredients, and the creaminess of yogurt or coconut is welcome, too. In addition to being a good source of beta-carotene, carrots are rich in vitamin C, which helps the body promote collagen production.
Our favorite unexpected baking ingredient is also a great surprising smoothie addition. The biggest perk: "It has such a mild flavor that you likely won't even notice it's there," says Largeman-Roth. What's more, "because zucchini has a high water content, it adds additional moisture to your smoothie."
Even with its high water content, zucchini is still a good source of vitamin B6, along with vitamin A, vitamin C, and zeaxanthin. That's a whole lotta bang for something you'll hardly notice in your fruity blend.
Play around with your go-to smoothie recipe to work in these all-star veggies. The flavor won't really change, but you'll add a whole lot of extra nutrients to the mix. If you're still dipping your toe into the world of smoothies, don't worry: You can always lean on recipes like these for inspiration.
Want your passion for wellness to change the world? Become A Functional Nutrition Coach! Enroll today to join our upcoming live office hours.