By Barrie Rogers, Debbie Dooly

Chia gives any smoothie a great nutritional kick and is simple to prepare. You can add chia to a smoothie in a couple of ways:

  • Create a chia gel and add it to the smoothie. This approach softens the seed prior to adding it to the smoothie. To make a chia gel, mix one part chia seeds to six parts water, stir, let sit for a few minutes, and stir again. Leave for ten minutes more, and use as necessary.

    If the texture of the smoothie made with chia gel is too thick for your taste, just add more water.

  • Add ground or milled chia seeds to your smoothie. You can buy ground or milled chia or just grind the whole seeds yourself in a coffee grinder.

To create any smoothie, follow these five basic steps:

  1. Start with a liquid base.

    The amount of liquid required will depend on your desired consistency and how many servings you want to make. You can use anything from 1/2 cup to 3 cups of liquid, but start off with less than you think you need — you can always add more liquid at the end for a thinner consistency.

    You can use any liquid you like, such as water, coconut water, juice, milk, or yogurt. Pay attention to the nutritional value of the liquid you’re adding — you could end up adding a lot of sugar to your smoothie without realizing it.

  2. Add fruits and/or vegetables.

    Choosing which fruits or vegetables to add to your smoothies can be a learning curve — you can put anything into a smoothie, but some foods are very overpowering and you may end up with a flavor that you don’t like. Smoothie making is about trial and error, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

    Some veggies that work great in a smoothie are carrots, spinach, cucumber, and kale. Fruits that work well are pears, peaches, pineapple, and soft berries.

  3. Add extra flavor and nutrition.

    Depending on the fruits and vegetables you’re using, a bit of sweetness can be added if desired, but make sure to avoid table sugar and artificial sweeteners. Instead, choose natural options such as honey, stevia, or vanilla extract. Some people like adding spices, so give cinnamon or nutmeg a go and see if you like the taste.

    You can add anything you like to give the smoothie a flavor and nutrient boost, but try to use natural, unprocessed ingredients.

    Chia can be added to every smoothie you make to give it a nutrient kick that your body needs.

  4. Consider texture and temperature.

    At this stage, you have all the goodness in the smoothie, but if it’s too thick or too runny or not the right temperature, you won’t enjoy your smoothie experience.

    Ice is a great option for thickening a smoothie and getting it colder. Chia gel is another great thickener. Or try adding an extra banana or some yogurt to change the consistency. Keep experimenting to find what you like.

  5. Blend.

    Finally, you can blend it all together to make the drink. Initially, pulse the blender to get everything mixed up, and then let the blender liquefy everything until it gets nice and smooth and to your desired consistency. If the smoothie is too thick, just add more liquid. Pour and enjoy.

Here are some final smoothie-making tips:

  • If you’re looking for a low-calorie smoothie, stick to water, fruit, and ice.

  • If the blender gets stuck during blending, stop it, open the lid, and shake; then try blending again. If it’s still stuck, slowly add liquid.

  • If your smoothie is too sweet, add a pinch of sea salt.

  • If your smoothie is bitter, add a sweet fruit such as a pineapple, a few dates, ripe berries, or overripe banana.

  • Make your smoothies when you’re ready to enjoy them. The longer your smoothie sits, the less nutritious it becomes.