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Make Better Smoothies with Herbs and Spices!

Spice up your Smoothies

When I’m in a smoothie rut, I turn to the spice rack for inspiration. If you want to take your blender game to the next level, you are going to have to experiment. I’ve created this guide to help you pick the best spices and herbs to add to your smoothie or juice.

Herbs and spices can add complexity and depth to your basic smoothie. In addition to the taste benefits, many spices and herbs have health benefits. For example, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties.

I toss ground spices and fresh herbs directly in to the Vitamix when I’m making smoothies and juices. You can also steep whole spices and herbs in liquid to infuse them with flavour before adding them to your beverage. 

As you read the guide, you will find a section titled “suggested pairings”. This is not a recipe. I’m not suggesting you make a smoothie with all of those ingredients. You should pick and choose a combination that appeals to you.

I prefer fresh, green herbs with bright and fruity drinks or vegetable cocktails. The warm spices are great with creamy concoctions. Some herbs and spices can do double duty!

There are no rules here! If it sounds good to you, try it! I’ve definitely made some duds before, but you might surprise yourself by trying something unexpected.

I’ll be sure to update this page as I try new herbs and spices.

If you have a suggested spice pairing, please leave it in the comments and I can add it to the list. 

Allspice

Made from the dried berries of a plant called Pimenta dioica. Similar to cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Use: ground for smoothies, whole for infused beverages, use sparingly
Suggested pairings: apple, carrot, pumpkin, nut milk, banana, nut butter, coconut, dates

Basil

This fresh tasting member of the mint family comes in two main varieties, Sweet Basil and Thai Basil.  Sweet is most commonly used in Italian dishes. Thai basil has purple stems and has a slight anise flavour.
Use: toss a couple of fresh leaves in to the blender
Suggested pairings: melon, red berries, citrus fruit, pineapple, leafy greens, blueberry, vegetable juice

Cardamom

This spice is often used in Indian and Middle Eastern recipes. You can buy black cardamom, but green cardamom is better suited for smoothies and sweets. It often comes in the pod.
Use: grind the seeds for smoothies or use the whole seed to infuse a liquid, use sparingly
Suggested pairings: apple, banana, coconut, nut butter, nut milk, dates, pumpkin, coffee, black tea, pear, peach

Cayenne pepper

Hot, dried, chili peppers ground down are often used for a spice in Latin American, Asian and North American cuisine.
Use: start with a pinch because heat levels can vary, use sparingly
Suggested pairings: chocolate, banana, citrus fruits, dates, pineapple, mango, vegetable juices, leafy greens

Cinnamon 

This common spice is made from a type of bark. There are several varieties of varying quality on the market.
Use: ground cinnamon for smoothies, whole sticks for infused beverages
Suggested pairings: apple, pear, banana, coconut, nut butter, nut milk, dates, pumpkin, coffee, tea, vanilla, chocolate

Clove

Cloves are dried flower buds from the clove tree. They are hard and must be ground to be consumed.
Use: ground cloves in smoothies, whole buds for infusions, use sparingly
Suggested pairings: apple, pear, banana, coconut, nut butter, nut milk, dates, pumpkin, coffee, tea, vanilla, orange

Cocoa/Cacao 

Cocoa is not a spice, but you can use it like one. It adds a chocolate taste without adding sugar. A lot of people will tell you to stick to raw cacoa. I’m not one of those people.
Use: unsweetened cocoa powder, add cocoa nibs for some texture.
Suggested pairings: coffee, banana, coconut, nut butter, nut milk, red berries, vanilla, orange, mint, beet

Fennel bulbs

This perennial herb tastes great in a salad, but it’s also very refreshing in a juice or smoothie. It has a subtle licorice flavor, but don’t let that scare you.
Use: fresh fennel bulbs, chopped and blended thoroughly
Suggested pairings: apple, orange, pear, cucumber, tomato, leafy greens, vegetable juices, grapefruit, beet

Ginger

Ginger is a versatile, zingy* little root.  It adds a pleasant heat and a tangy, sharp and slightly sweet flavor.
Use: fresh root is best, dried ginger will do in a pinch
Suggested pairings: apple, banana, orange, lemon, pear, pumpkin, nut milk, nut butter, figs, dates, tropical fruits, carrot, chocolate, vegetable juices, leafy greens, green tea

Lavender

This edible flower adds an elegant perfume when used sparingly. Too much will make things taste soapy.
Use: fresh or dried flowers grown for culinary use, use sparingly
Suggested pairings: red berries, vanilla, tea, chocolate, honey, white chocolate, blueberry, pear, orange

Lemon Balm 

This lemon scented herb is a member of the mint family.
Use: fresh or dried, but fresh is best for smoothies and juices.
Suggested pairings: honey, cucumber, citrus fruit, stone fruits, berries, apple, pear

Matcha

Matcha is a fine powder made from ground green tea leaves. It’s not technically an herb, but I couldn’t leave it out of this list.  It does have a distinct, grassy flavor that can take some time to appreciate.
Use: add a ½-1 tsp to your smoothie start
Suggested pairings: banana, coconut, nut milks, vanilla, mango, red berries, melon, chocolate

Mint

There are many varieties of mint including peppermint, spearmint and apple mint. Mint adds a fresh flavor with a cool aftertaste.
Use: fresh leaves in a juice or smoothie, muddled leaves with sparkling beverages
Suggested pairings: Lime, grapefruit, chocolate, melon, red berries, blueberry, blackberry, cucumber

Nutmeg 

Whole nutmeg seeds are about 1 inch long and egg-shaped.  It is warm and sweet.
Use: fresh grated is best, but you can buy it ground, use sparingly
Suggested pairings: apple, pear, coffee, pumpkin, peach, nut milk, nut butter, banana, tea, coconut

Pepper

Black pepper is the most traded spice in the world. You may not associate it with sweet foods, but it can add a surprising kick to your fruity beverages.
Use: grind from whole pepper corns, use sparingly
Suggested pairings: mango, pineapple, blackberry, grapefruit, strawberry, vegetable juices, melon

Turmeric

Turmeric is a relative of ginger. It is mild tasting with less bite than ginger. You can buy it fresh in the form of a root or dried. Dried turmeric is brightly colored, be careful not to spill as it can stain!
Use: add 1 inch of fresh turmeric or 1 tsp of dried turmeric to your beverage
Suggested pairings: nut milk, banana, nut butter, dates, pumpkin, tea, vanilla, pineapple, orange, mango, cocoa

Vanilla

Vanilla is versatile. It pairs well with most sweet foods. If you have a sweet tooth, vanilla can make your smoothies taste more like milkshakes.
Use: add a splash of extract or a teaspoon of pure ground vanilla.
Suggested pairings: apple, banana, chocolate, coconut, tropical fruit, berries, nut milk, nut butter, dates, tea, orange, matcha

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9 Comments

  1. Can I share a dud with you? HA! I think it was my fault, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. The smoothie called for almond milk, peanut butter, spinach and some chia seeds and cinnamon. I didn’t have almond milk, so I substituted coconut milk. I think that was the problem. It ended up so rich that it was nauseating and now I can’t stand the smell of peanut butter. OOF. I think I’ll try something else with cocoa and fresh mint from the garden. And NO peanut butter. Blech.

    • Jasmine Lukuku says

      Was it canned coconut milk? That stuff is powerful! I do use it in smoothies from time to time, but I dilute the heck out of it. Peanut butter can also be pretty heavy duty in a smoothie. I often go for almond butter because it’s milder tasting.

      One of my biggest smoothie fails involves frozen spinach. I added far too much and it was horrible. A smoothie for Popeye!

    • Jasmine Lukuku says

      I haven’t tried that before! PS…welcome to the world of food blogging!

  2. Joseph says

    Wow! Awesome guide! I truly appreciate how simple you’ve kept it. Very nice.

  3. Ed D says

    I bought some clove buds and ground clove. I have a nutribullet and I am looking for information on what to blend with that to taste good .I am told its good to clear up parisites which we all have. thanks Ed

    • Jasmine Lukuku says

      I would recommend a mix of almond milk, banana, pumpkin and clove.

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