Many people fall short when it comes to eating enough vegetables and even if you feel like you get enough, we can all benefit from some extra veggies in our diet. One of the easiest ways to sneak more vegetables into your nutrition plan is to add them to smoothies. While wonderfully nutritious, we’re not talking a handful of spinach or a piece of kale. Let’s have a look at the best vegetables to add to smoothies in addition to leafy greens.
Zucchini in A Smoothie?!
Yep, you heard right! We’re talking zucchini, cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, squash, beets and other superfood vegetables that blend perfectly into thick, creamy, healthy smoothies. These smoothie-friendly vegetables are just as easy to toss in smoothies as leafy greens like spinach and kale. These healthy, nutritious vegetables can either enhance the sweetness and flavour of a smoothie or simply add volume, fibre and extra nutrition.
Benefits of Adding Vegetables to Smoothies
By adding vegetables to your smoothies, you’ll be benefiting from healthy fibre, tons of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, all of which aid in digestion, promote healthy skin and support immunity.
Consuming more vegetables in general helps lower your risk of chronic disease, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of stroke, helps fight cancer and boosts your energy and mood. By experimenting with a range of vegetables in every colour of the rainbow, you’ll ensure you’re cover all your micronutrient basis and hitting those daily veggie goals.
Adding veggie to smoothies is also a great way to eat less sugar and add more volume without extra calories, helping to keep you full and energized. I like really big smoothies and smoothie bowls and by adding vegetables like zucchini, cauliflower and squash, I can enjoy the serving size I love while keeping the carbohydrates or glycemic load down.
Quick Tip: Freezing the vegetables on this list for use in smoothies is also a great way to reduce food waste making sure no veggie gets left behind!
Best Vegetables to Add to Smoothies
Frozen zucchini is one of my favourite smoothie additions. It’s vitamin-rich, has anti-inflammatory properties, promotes healthy digestion and has a mild flavour and very few calories. Zucchini is high in antioxidants and vitamin C, fibre and vitamin A and contains potassium, folate, vitamin B6 and riboflavin.
Very mild and slightly sweet, doesn’t add much flavour, creamy when blended.
How to Use Zucchini in Smoothies
You can use either fresh or frozen zucchini in your smoothies. For extra nutrition and fibre, leave the peel on whether you’re using fresh or frozen. Freezing zucchini for smoothies is also great way to use up zucchini that would go bad otherwise. To freeze it, simply chop it into pieces, place in a freezer-safe container or ziplock bag and toss in the freezer.
With it’s mild and neutral flavour, zucchini can be blended with almost anything. Try it in the chocolate zucchini smoothie recipe below, blended with frozen banana and strawberries, in a mango zucchini smoothie or green zucchini cauliflower smoothie.
2. Butternut, Pumpkin, Acorn or Kabocha Squash
This family of squash boasts an impressive list of health benefits. They’re high in vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E and contain important minerals like magnesium, potassium, copper, calcium and iron. They’re also a good source of carotenoids and other anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.
These bright and beautiful vegetables support healthy eyes and skin, can help prevent cancer, reduce blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and prevent inflammatory conditions.
Taste and Texture
Slightly sweet, smooth and creamy.
How to Use Squash in Smoothies
Squash is easy to use in smoothies. It’s very creamy and works well as a low-sugar alternative to banana. You can use fresh or frozen cooked squash chunks or squash puree. I like to roast a few squashes on the week and then store in the fridge for smoothies and snacks.
Quick Tip: puree squash and freeze it in ice cube trays then pop it in to ziplock bags and freeze for conveniently portioned frozen squash cubes.
Squash blends beautifully with ingredients like dates, turmeric, orange, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla but with it’s fairly mild taste you can add a scoop of squash puree or frozen squash cubes to pretty much anything. For convenience, canned pumpkin puree is always a staple on my grocery list. After opening I store pumpkin puree in the fridge for adding to smoothies, overnight oats and other recipes. Try this Butternut Squash Cinnamon Smoothie.
Cucumbers are hydrating, contain vitamin K, B, copper, potassium, vitamin C and manganese plus unique polyphenols that can help reduce the risk of chronic disease. They can help reduce cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, support skin health and improve energy among a long list other health benefits.
Light and refreshing.
How to Use Cucumber in Smoothies
Cucumber has a very high water content so it’s an excellent low calorie, high volume vegetable you can add to smoothies. You can use fresh or frozen cucumber, peeled or unpeeled. For the best blending, I recommend using peeled, frozen cucumber chunks. Cucumber works well with watermelon, pineapple, lime, apple, mint, kale, mango and other bright and fresh flavours. Try this Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie.
With that bright, beautiful colour, you just know beets offer a ton of health benefits and you’d be right to think so. Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fibre, folate, manganese and antioxidants.
Beets have a lovely sweet taste that works perfectly in smoothies! Not to mention the gorgeous colour they add.
How to Use Beets in Smoothies
You can use raw or cooked beet in smoothies however, unless you have a Vitamix or other high-powered blender, I’d recommend steaming, boiling or roasting them before using. I like to prep a batch of roasted beets on the weekend so I can use them in smoothies and recipes during the week. Cooked beet can also be frozen or pureed for use in smoothies or you can whip up some beet juice to use for your smoothie liquid.
Beets work nicely with berries and banana, cherries, cacao and avocado. Try this Beet & Berry Smoothie.
Cauliflower is one of the healthiest foods out there and offers a wide range of health benefits. Tossing a handful of frozen cauliflower into your daily smoothie is a simply way to sneak more of it into your diet. One serving of cauliflower contains 77 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C as well as vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fibre, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese.
Cauliflower has a slightly stronger taste than some of the other veggies on this list however it’s still quite mild and easy to blend into any smoothie without altering the flavour.
How to Use Cauliflower in Smoothies
I use frozen raw cauliflower for use in smoothies. You can cook it first if you prefer, or use fresh raw or cooked cauliflower. You can also use the pureed cauliflower ice cube method for freezing. Frozen cauliflower adds a nice creaminess to smoothies and with it’s mild flavour it blends in to the background or the taste is masked completely.
It has a slightly stronger flavour than say zucchini so it works well blended with sweeter fruits like blueberries, strawberries, mango and pineapple. That being said, I almost always add a few pieces to my smoothies for extra volume and nutrition. If you’re using a small amount of say 1/2 to 1 cup, you won’t taste it once blended. Try this Berry Cauliflower Smoothie Bowl.
Like all the veggies on this list, carrots are a superfood you should most definitely include in your diet on a regular basis. Rich in beta-carotene, fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, iron, copper and folate, they offer a wealth of health benefits that are too good to pass up.
Carrot has a stronger flavour than some of the other veggies on this list but it still has that hint of sweetness that makes it a good option for smoothies. Think carrot cake for flavour inspiration!
How to Use Carrot in Smoothies
Carrot can used raw or cooked. If you’re using it raw, I recommend grating it or cutting it into small pieces before using. Unless you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, I’d recommend using lightly steamed or roasted carrots. Using an ice cube tray to make pureed carrot cubes also work great.
Quick Tips: Create carrot juice by blending carrots with water in high-powered blender until smooth and then using that as the liquid for your smoothie.
Carrot works well with flavours like coconut, dates, ginger, mango, orange, pineapple and banana. Try this Carrot Ginger Turmeric Smoothie.
7. Sweet Potato
Nutrient-rich sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
Slightly sweet and perfectly creamy.
How to Use Sweet Potato in Smoothies
To get right to the point: put them in everything. Fresh or frozen, cooked sweet potato is one of my favourite smoothie additions. It’s super creamy, is slightly sweet and works well with almost everything. Try sweet potato in your post-workout smoothie to refuel and recovery with the carbohydrates it provides. I like to bake a few sweet potatoes as part of my weekly food prep and then freeze chunks to toss in smoothies. You can also use the ice cube tray method. Sweet potato works well with mango, ginger, carrot, banana, dates, cinnamon, orange and almond. Think pumpkin pie for inspiration! Try this Healthy Orange Smoothie.
8. Leafy Greens
You should be eating a variety of leafy greens on a daily basis and tossing them in a smoothie is an easy way to do that. They’re all packed with nutrition, fibre and antioxidants and offer a wide range of health benefits from disease prevention to lowered blood pressure.
Mild but can be bitter if you add too much. With a high water content, you can’t usually taste them in smoothies.
How to Use Leafy Greens in Smoothies
Fresh or frozen, leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard and romaine lettuce are easy to add to smoothies. They blend easily and contribute a ton of nutrients. You can add a handful of greens to any smoothie for an extra boost in nutrition. Try this 5 Minute Spinach Smoothie.
Chocolate Zucchini Smoothie Bowl
I couldn’t leave you with all these tips for adding veggies to smoothies without a delicious vegetable-based smoothie recipe! Zucchini is one of my favourite veggies to toss in a smoothie and in typical Running on Real Food fashion, I eat this smoothie nice and thick, out of a bowl and with a spoon. Inspired by Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins, I love this smoothie bowl topped with crunchy cacao nibs for flavour, texture and nutrition.
This smoothie bowl is low in sugar, high in antioxidants and magnesium from the cacao powder and cacao nibs, high in protein from plant-based protein powder and contains plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre from zucchini and strawberries. The raw cacao make this chocolate zucchini smoothie bowl a wonderful mood-booster too!
This recipe makes one large, 273 calorie, energizing portion with 4 grams of healthy fats, 33 grams of plant-based protein and 31 grams of carbohydrates with only 12 grams of sugar. You’ll also be getting 10 grams of fibre plus 36% RDA of iron, 17% RDA of calcium and 140% RDA of vitamin C.
Chocolate Zucchini Smoothie Bowl
This chocolate zucchini smoothie bowl is low in sugar but still delivers on decadent chocolate flavour. It’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, high in protein and has a smooth, creamy consistency perfect for eating with a spoon
- 1 cup (140 g) chopped frozen zucchini
- 1/2 cup (70 g) frozen strawberry pieces
- 1/2 cup (70 g) sliced frozen peaches
- 1 serving (44 g) Vega Chocolate Performance Protein
- 2 tbsp (11 g) raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup water or plant-based milk of choice
- optional: pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt
- 1-2 tbsp raw cacao nibs or dairy-free chocolate chips for topping
- Add all ingredients except the raw cacao nibs to a high-powered blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy.
- Scoop into a bowl or large glass, top with cacao nibs and enjoy with a spoon!
Nutrition facts do not include cacao nibs.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 273 calories
- Sugar: 12 grams
- Fat: 4 grams
- Carbohydrates: 30 grams
- Fiber: 10 grams
- Protein: 32 grams