Smoothies have been around for a long time, possibly a lot longer than you realize. According to Nestlé, smoothies first appeared on the scene in the 1930s, in California. Even on its debut, the smoothie was billed as a health food item, but it wasn’t until the 1940s — when blenders became a household appliance — that smoothies found mainstream appeal.
The beverage is inspired by traditional Mexican and South American drinks. Originally used to cool off on hot days, Americans have made smoothies into a multibillion-dollar industry. But many of the mass-produced, mass-market drinks run several hundred calories high and can be packed with sugar, making it closer to a dessert than a healthy beverage.
A prime example is Smoothie King’s The Hulk Strawberry. If you drank 20 ounces of this pink offering, you’d have consumed 964 calories, 32 grams of fat, and 125 grams of sugar. A double quarter-pounder with cheese from McDonald’s has less calories. But the smoothie’s reputation isn’t forever tarnished: It still can have plenty of health benefits, depending on how you make it. Here are six ingredients and recipes for each to up the ante on your next smoothie.