Smoothies can be an incredible source of protein, fiber, vitamins and energy. When you’re on the go and have no time for a meal, when you want something tasty to drink but don’t want to weigh down on syrupy sodas and energy drinks, when you need a pick me up and you’ve already had enough coffee for the day, smoothies can be just the thing to get you over the hump.

Smoothies can be pricey if you buy them at cafes and supermarkets, but with a few inexpensive ingredients, you can set up your own smoothie shop right at home.

Here are a few ingredients that you’ll want to throw on the list the next time you go shopping:
•Plain yogurt
•Natural, unrefined sugar
•Frozen fruit of your choice
•Vanilla protein powder

That’s really all you need to make great smoothies. In fact, you don’t even need the protein powder. You can replace that with caffeine or vitamin C supplements, or omit it altogether and use just the basic ingredients.

How to Prepare Your Smoothies

Start with a formula of one cup of yogurt, one cup of frozen fruit, one banana, and sugar for taste (you might not need sugar at all if you’re using sweeter fruit like strawberries and peaches).

Add to that the recommended dose of supplements that you have on hand, and puree in your blender until it hits a consistency of something like soft-serve ice cream. You want it to be semi-solid, not runny, but sippable through a straw, so don’t overblend.

Here are some tips to help you make your smoothies:

1) If the fruit gets stuck in the bender, stir the mixture around with a spoon and reblend. The yogurt and bananas help to keep this from happening too often.

2) The riper the bananas, the stronger the flavor will be in the smoothie. If the peels are more black than they are yellow, then the banana may not look too pretty, but it will taste amazing in your smoothie.

3) Try reducing how much sugar you use each time. The whole point of a smoothie is that it’s tasty and healthy, and too much sugar can compromise that.

Once you have the basic recipe down, you can start to experiment. You can add a little more yogurt for a thinner blend that’s easier to sip quickly. You can also use fresh fruit and a few ice cubes if you want to preserve the integrity of the fruit’s natural fiber without losing the icy quality of a good smoothie.

Smoothie Examples

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Mocha Smoothie

The toughest part of making coffee-flavored smoothies is getting the flavor to really come out. The reason that ice cream is so loaded with natural and artificial flavors is that it’s harder to taste things when they’re cold.
So for your mocha smoothie, take some cold coffee left over from the morning, mix that with a serving of instant coffee crystals, and blend with yogurt and ice to make a delicious pick-me-up. You can add chocolate powder or syrup and sugar for taste to make a great mocha smoothie, and experiment with various flavor syrups like peppermint, Irish cream and caramel. It’s like a Starbucks in your kitchen.

Veggie Smoothie

This one isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of V8 vegetable juice, it may be just the thing. The mix of sweet and savory flavors really makes this one a classic.

Start with the yogurt and ice, and then add tomato and carrot juice and frozen peaches. You can experiment with other fruit, too, but peaches tend to be a subtle enough flavor that the tomato and carrot flavors can really stand out. Add sugar for taste, and blend.

If you’re not a fan of veggie juice, then you probably won’t much care for this one, but if you love mixing sweet and savory flavors then it may be right up your alley.

Pina Colada Smoothie

Coconut milk, pineapples, ice, yogurt and sugar for taste make this one one of the most refreshing smoothie recipes imaginable. Give it a try the next time you need to cool off.

The best thing about these smoothies is that, once you have all the ingredients on hand and you’ve gotten the technique down, they shouldn’t take you more than five minutes each morning to blend together and pour into a cup. Keep straws on hand, and consider investing in a thermos so that you can sip your smoothies at work or on the go.

Got more easy recipes for tasty and healthy smoothies? Share them in the comments so we can all enjoy staying healthy.