Whether you are resolving to eat healthier or just love to start your day with a delicious smoothie, this blog post from Sally Kuzemchak of our Kitchen Council and Real Mom Nutrition is for you. Here, Sally shares simple rules to follow when making smoothies at home. Get the ingredients and equipment you need and have fun blending!

As a new year begins and people resolve to eat healthier, many will be firing up their blenders to make smoothies. After all, smoothies have nearly become synonymous with good health, since they’re usually loaded with fresh fruits and veggies. And they truly can be a smart, nutrient-packed breakfast or snack—as long as you keep a few important tips in mind:

The Do’s and Don’ts of Making Smoothies

Don’t: Include lots of fruit juice

Do: Use mostly whole fruit.  Fruit juice is a concentrated source of calories but void of nutritious, filling fiber. Whole fruit sweetens smoothies just as well and includes ALL the nutrients in the fruit.

Don’t: Toss in unwashed fruits

Do: Rinse all fresh produce, even if you’re going to peel it (and even if it’s organic). Dirt from the peel can be pulled inside to the flesh when you’re slicing it.

Don’t: Skimp on protein

Do: Use a protein-rich liquid as a base (such as dairy milk or soy milk—keep in mind that almond milk is low in protein) or include protein-rich ingredients such as yogurt, nut butter, walnuts, or even tofu. Protein is a nutrient that will make your smoothies satisfying, so you won’t be raiding the cupboards an hour later.

Don’t: Forget veggies

Do: Include veggies. They’re lower in calories than fruit, so it’s wise to have a balance between the two. Start with greens like baby spinach, which has a mild taste that blends well with other flavors. Kale is nutrient-packed but a bit stronger and slightly bitter, so add a small amount at first until you figure out the ratio that you like best.

Don’t: Use much (if any) added sweetener

Do: Use fruit as a natural sweetener. Apples especially add an intense sweetness and can sweeten up a smoothie with the natural sugars they contain. Stemilt’s Fresh Blenders apples in the Sweet Blenders variety are a perfect way to add a natural sweet flavor.

Don’t: Use a wimpy blender

Do: Use a high-powdered blender designed to pulverize–or you’ll end up with a smoothie that’s not so smooth! The Nutri Ninja® Ninja® Blender Duo with Auto-iQTM (pictured here) can handle whole fruits, veggies, nuts, and ice and has special settings for frozen drinks, smoothies with leafy greens, and smoothies containing hard ingredients such as carrots and seeds.

Don’t: Fall into a smoothie rut

Do: Switch up the ingredients in your smoothies so you’re getting a wide variety of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. Get lots of smoothie ideas here.

Don’t: Slurp them down with reckless abandon

Do: Be mindful about portions. Smoothies can be super-healthy, but they still have calories. The smallest smoothie cup that comes with the Nutri Ninja is a great singe-serving start. Use the larger cups when you’re sharing a smoothie—or to make one for a snack later or breakfast tomorrow.