Green Smoothies – basic recipe & variations
Green smoothies are incredibly good for you and fun to drink. I like to teach my clients to not get too caught up in specific recipes and instead just learn the method to making a great tasting green drink.
Here’s my method to constructing the perfect green smoothie:
The Green Base:
Add 2-3 large handfuls (about 2-3 cups) of leafy greens to the blender. Spinach has a mild flavor so start there if you’re a newbie. Kale, collard greens, chard, romaine and green leafy herbs like cilantro, parsley and mint are all great. There are hundreds of types of greens out there–try any of them and mix things up to find flavor combinations you like. I usually end up using what was a good price at the store that week and what I have left in the refrigerator. Cucumbers are also a fantastic green addition to your smoothie for both their high nutrition content and high water content (the green peel is excellent for you, but peel it if it’s not organic).
Add about a cup of fruit next for extra antioxidants, texture and flavor, because let’s be honest, a green smoothie can end up tasting like a blended salad. Greens on their own are wonderful and do taste delicious, adding the fruit just sweetens it up, adds more flavor and packs in more nutrition. Berries are low in sugar and high in flavor, while 1/2 a banana or 1/4 of an avocado will give your smoothie a super creamy texture. I also find that 1/2 of a banana really sweetens the entire drink. A half teaspoon of citrus zest will add amazing flavor, and a squeeze of citrus juice will amp up the immune boosting properties of your smoothie. Keep your green smoothie to at least double, preferably triple, greens to fruit ratio to keep the sugar content of your drink low and reasonable (no blood sugar spikes here!).
The Nut or Seed Superfood Add-In:
Next into the blender: add a tablespoon or two of a nut or seed superfood add-in to for even more nutrition and a little bit of good fat. Some of the nutrients in plants, specifically vitamins A, K, E and D are fat soluble, meaning they need to be accompanied by some fat to be absorbed properly. (Another reason fat-free salad dressing is the devil, but that’s another post for another day.) Adding in flax seeds, flax oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, raw almonds or raw walnuts accomplishes that. Each of those things are full of good omega-3 fats, protein and tons of other nutrients as well. (Quick note, this should be a tablespoon or two, so about 6-8 nuts. No need to be adding 1/2 cup of nut butter or handfuls of nuts to your smoothie, too much will slow down your digestion.)
Add 1/2 – 1 cup purified water, coconut water or unsweetened nut milk to help the blender work it’s magic and turn your smoothie into a drinkable texture. Add more purified water as needed to blend.
If you need a little sweetness to make it palatable, try adding a tablespoon of organic raw honey (keep it raw to keep the enzymes and nutrients in tact) or a few organic (pitted) dates. Just be mindful of how much sugar you’re adding. 6-10 drops of liquid stevia will also sweeten it up a bit without adding any extra sugar. Also feel free to add in any more veggies if you’re feeling adventurous and the spirit moves you (broccoli, anyone?).
Add all ingredients to your blender and blend away. You may need to pause and push the ingredients down a few times to help your blender along.
Wash all produce and use organic ingredients whenever possible.
Blend for about 30 seconds at a time until the desired texture is achieved. Always be careful to not let the speed of the blender heat the smoothie-heat kills the enzymes and some of the nutrients.
Warm smoothies rarely taste good. Frozen fruit or a few ice cubes go a long way to making your smoothie a tasty treat.
Your green drink might turn out purple or another wild color from the other ingredients; it doesn’t actually have to be the color green to be a green drink.
Run the blender under hot water right after you pour your smoothie into a glass and let it sit while you drink. Then just rinse it and let it air dry for easy/quick cleanup.
For inquiring minds, I have both a Vitamix blender and a Nutribullet blender. Both are great, the Vitamix is bigger and has more power (better for large batches and frozen stuff) and the Nutribullet is great for smaller smoothies and you can drink right out of the cup you blend in. Any blender is fine, and I suggest investing in a high-speed, good quality one that had a warranty, is easy to clean, and has a good amount of power to blend your smoothies.