Green smoothies are all the rage these days for good reason. They're an excellent way to get your recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, very filling, and can be fun to drink. The key to craving a green smoothie daily is to make sure it doesn't taste like a blended salad. (Eew!)
While specific recipes are great, I like to teach my clients to not get too caught up in exact ingredients and measurements. There's no reason to stress about not having one tablespoon of chia seeds or exactly 12 organic cherries on hand; just about every smoothie ingredient can be substituted for something equally as good for you and delicious.
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).
Next, add about a cup of low-sugar fruit for extra antioxidants, texture, sweetness and flavor. Berries and stone fruits (think cherries and nectarines) are low in sugar and high in flavor. Half of 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. Try to keep your green smoothie to at least a 2:1 ratio of greens to fruit to keep the sugar content of your drink low (no blood sugar spikes here!). A 3:1 ratio is even better.
The 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, fiber, 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. 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 other nutrients as well.
You'll need about one cup of liquid to help the blender work its magic. Purified water, coconut water or unsweetened nut milk are my top three favorites. Again, just be sure that whatever you add doesn't contain any added sugar. Add more purified water as needed to blend to your desired consistency.
If you need a little sweetness to make it palatable, try adding a teaspoon of organic raw honey 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.
- Stick to 2-3 flavor combinations in your drink (think cucumber-mint, cherry-vanilla, etc.) Too many flavors can end up tasting too funky.
- Wash all produce and use organic ingredients whenever possible.
- Blend for about 30-60 seconds at a time until the desired texture is achieved.
- 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.
- I've used 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 that you blend in. Any blender is fine, and I suggest investing in a high-speed, good quality machine that has a warranty and is easy to clean.
Here's an idea to get you started.
Chia Berry Green Smoothie Recipe
- 1/2 cup mixed frozen berries (or any selection of berries)
- 1/2 frozen banana (peeled)
- 1-2 cups baby spinach
- 2 teaspoons chia seeds
- 15 ounces purified water
- handful of ice
Method: Blend all ingredients until smooth; enjoy immediately.