Think fast! What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you picture a “green smoothie”?
A thick, goopy mess of gunk, with a funky green color, that smells and tastes like lawn clippings & dirt in a glass?
Honestly? It can be that way… but it doesn’t have to.
Let’s erase that imagery from your mind and paint a different picture.
People tend to get pretty turned off whenever “green” is associated with food or drink.
But in reality, green smoothies are a delicious way for you and/or your loved ones to:
- Consume more fresh fruit
- Up your intake of greens
- Get essential amino acids for protein production
- Get calcium from a source other than dairy
- Experience improved health
What’s a Green Smoothie, Anyway?
Simple, it’s a fruit smoothie with green leaf veggies blended in.
Believe it or not, some folks gravitate towards smoothies with very minimal fruit and MOSTLY greens, or *gulp*…
… ALL greens and NO fruit!
(Yuck! That’s where that glass of dirt & lawn clippings comes in)
I’m not quite that extreme. I need my green smoothies to be sweet and tasty or else I ain’t drinking ’em.
In fact, there was a time when I would add ONE kale leaf or a very tiny bit of spinach. Back then, my “green” smoothies weren’t green at all! lol
But overtime, I began adding more greens and now, they’re a beautiful bright green color – depending on what kind of fruit I use. I’ll tell you all about that in a minute.
The “Queen” of Green Smoothies
My first exposure to green smoothies was back in the early 2000’s when my family and I were raw vegans. I knew what smoothies were, but then I began hearing about “green smoothies”. My first thought was, “Greens in a smoothie?? YUCK!”
One day I got brave enough to try it and, reluctantly, blended my one kale leaf with some fruit. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought, in fact… it was pretty darned good.
My husband and I went to hear Victoria Boutenko do a talk about green smoothies. We were SOLD!
As far as I’m concerned, Victoria is the QUEEN of green smoothies. She educated the masses about them long before they became a “craze”. No, she may not have discovered or invented them, but she (and her family) surely pioneered the movement!
While at the event, we bought a copy of her book, “Green for Life”, (which is, far as I know, the first book on the subject), tasted some samples, bought bunches of greens & bananas at the local farmer’s market, and went green smoothie CRAZY!
Thankfully we had her book to refer to because we discovered something we needed to correct. She really goes in depth about these power drinks and shares:
- the benefits of various greens
- how to ensure the best nutritional value
- case studies
- and a lot more
Why GREEN Smoothies, Of All Things?
“Isn’t enough to just drink a fruit smoothie? Why does it need GREENS in it?”
Drinking fruit smoothies is definitely beneficial and will help you get your RDA of fruit, but it’s equally as important to get your veggies in as well.
And I get it. You eat veggies: carrots, corn, and the occasional salad, right?
But like most people, you probably don’t consume enough DARK green leafies.
Greens are packed with nutrients your body needs BUT… all that goodness is within the cells of the plants, which need to be broken down into an almost creamy consistency in order for you to reap the benefits. Some people’s answer to that might be cooking them until they’re almost mush, but cooking to that capacity destroys much of the valuable nutrients.
And, unfortunately, greens in their raw state are tough to chew, not to mention, not very palatable.
You would have to chew, and chew, and CHEW like cows grazing on grass, and most of us don’t chew our food well enough as it is even when it’s NOT something as tough as raw greens. We take a bite, chew 4-5 times, swallow, then on to the next bite.
So, what’s the solution?
Blending your greens breaks them down, ruptures their cells, and releases the nutrients you may be missing out on by chewing alone.
A powerful blender, such as a Vitamix, is BEST, but you can use pretty much any blender that has sharp blades. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to blend it longer to get it smooth and creamy, as opposed to gritty and chunky.
What’s In A Green Smoothie?
I don’t claim to be an authority on the topic, but I’ve made enough of them throughout the years to feel confident sharing my take on ’em with you.
First of all, let’s break it down into parts:
- Base – This is the liquid you will use. Without a liquid of some sort, your smoothie will be very thick and may not even blend. Personally, I use water, but you can use coconut water/milk, almond or other non-dairy milk. I have never used dairy milk in a smoothie, but some do.
If you want to add a probiotic element to your smoothies, you can also use kefir or yogurt but you may still need to add some additional liquid to help it move & blend.
- Fruit – Here’s where things can get a little tricky because, while it may be tempting to put all manner of fruits into your smoothie, not everything goes well together.
But a good starting point for beginners is:
- bananas and blueberries or strawberries
- pineapple, mango, peach
- a singular fruit
- Greens – Starting out, you may want to use greens with a mild flavor such as lettuce (green leaf, romaine, butter) or spinach. As you get more accustomed, you can experiment with parsley, celery, or swiss chard.
Then, when you really get brave, work up to stronger greens like kale, collards, arugula or beet tops. There are many more to choose from and you can try different ones to find the ones you like.
Just be sure to rotate your greens to get the most out of them nutritionally and to avoid toxic overload from consuming too much of the same greens too frequently.
Those are the basics, but you can add other items such as fiber, ground flax seed or flax seed oil, shredded coconut, avocado, fresh orange, and superfood powders like spirulina.
Try to keep the add-ins (aside from fruit & greens) to a minimum and keep them healthy!
How To Make A Green Smoothie
Making a green smoothie isn’t rocket science. For the most part you can just put everything in the container and start whizzing away. However… if you want it to be palatable, you’ll want to put forth a little more effort than simply throwing a bunch of stuff into a blender and blending it.
Gather all of your ingredients.
If you’re using a standard (inexpensive) blender, I highly recommend you start out with any ingredients that may take longer to break down such as your greens, fruit with seeds (raspberries), apple skin, or fiber.
Blend the greens as long as your blender will allow you to before it starts to overheat. If, at that point, the greens aren’t fully broken down and creamy in consistency – turn the blender off, allow it to cool down, then start it up again.
Keep blending until you barely see tiny pieces of greens. It may take a while, but it’ll be well worth it for a smooth, creamy smoothie!
TIP: Tone down the bitterness of the greens by adding lemon juice and allowing the smoothie to “rest” for a couple of minutes before drinking.
Once it’s as smooth as it can get, add your fruit. If using frozen fruit, either let it thaw a little bit or add it little at a time so that it blends easier. Again, blend until it’s smooth without chunkiness, unless you like the bits of fruit.
Enough fruit should be used to make it taste good so you’ll WANT to drink it, even if that means adding one kale leaf!
Then, as your tastebuds adjust and gets used to the chlorophyll, you can start adding more.
If your smoothie is too thick or isn’t blending well, add a little more liquid until it’s the desired consistency.
When you are ready, you can begin experimenting with different recipes and adding different ingredients such as yogurt, ground flax seed, superfoods, etc.
I don’t claim to be a recipe creator, but I did jot down a recipe for one of my favorite green smoothies and if you’d like to try it, you’re more than welcome to!
2-3 bananas (the more ripe, the better)
1-2 apples and/or pears (with core and seeds removed)
Handful of strawberries and/or blueberries (I use frozen)
a few chunks or slices of pineapple (I actually use the core as I cut them up and freeze for smoothies)
1/4-1/2 c. water
1/2-1 bunch of greens (I use either kale, baby leaf spinach, or parsley)
*Optional: For an added protein & nutrient boost, add 1-2 TBS. of spirulina powder!
Blend in blender until there are no whole green particles visible. If too thick, add more water. If too thin, add more fruit. Store any unused portion in glass jar/container in fridge for up to 3 days.
Green Smoothie Benefits
So you may be wondering if all the effort is worth it… what benefits might you reap from drinking these green beverages.
Well, some have reported they’ve noticed:
- improvements in digestion
- healthier skin
- higher energy levels
- better digestive function
- reduced cravings for junk
- increased desire for healthier foods
- weight loss (when doing a green smoothie regimen)
Just keep in mind that to REALLY get the major benefits of green smoothies, you need to rotate your greens by using different varieties – even weeds such as dandelion and nettles.
But if you find that you have a limited availability of greens, consider a liquid supplement that contains a variety of greens (grasses, weeds, etc. included) and a total of 243 vitamins, minerals and special nutrients.
And KIDS love green smoothies too, especially if you fine-tune them to your children’s liking.
For example: My children love “slushy” smoothies so I add lots of ice and/or frozen fruit and if need be, agave nectar and they think they’re having a Slushee or an Icee!
But sometimes they just drink them as ordinary smoothies too! And if you own a dehydrator, leftovers can be dried to fruit leather…not too many kids will turn down sweet, chewy fruit leather even if it is green! 😀
All-in-all, green smoothies are a great jumpstart to a healthy diet…many have even testified that they take away cravings for junk foods over time!
So, start drinking green smoothies…at least 1-2 quarts a day and see what a difference they make in YOUR life!