I have been wanting to write this post for a while. I love green smoothies so much and think that everyone should have them in their lives. They are a little bit ‘on trend’ at the moment, I have seen them popping up on more menus around and about, and I couldn’t be happier! They are not only delicious, but a fantastic way to get more green veg into your life. And more green veg equals more vitamins and minerals (including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin C, E and K), fibre, antioxidants, energy, and hydration. So I thought why not make it as easy as possible to get the green goodness in. Because let’s face it – a green smoothie fail is often un-fixable. Also known in my house as ‘over-kale-ing’, this can happen to everyone at some point in your green smoothie experimentation. Sometimes you can save it with some extra banana, berries or ginger, but sometimes too much kale or other green veg results in an end product that needs to be quickly consumed for business not pleasure…
So, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
What is a green smoothie? Basically a smoothie that combines some sort of liquid base (water, coconut water, nut milk etc) and green – usually leafy – vegetables. The addition of all the extras is optional.
Why green smoothies? So many reasons!
- They offer up a plethora of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals as mentioned above
- Your body is able to digest the components more easily as their are broken down, making the nutrients more available
- A fast, delicious and legal hit of energy, the goodness in green smoothies quickly makes its way to your cells to nourish, hydrate and energise
- They are easy and quick to make, and make the perfect snack or meal depending on the ingredients. I love to make extra and take to work in a jar as an afternoon snack.
- Green smoothies are a fabulous way to inject more vegetables into your daily diet
- Certified kid friendly
- They make a great way to clean out the fridge at the end of the week
- Leftovers make great icy poles!
Equipment: A blender. Or maybe a knife and a chopping board if you want to get fancy. There are a lot of different makes and models of blenders, Vitamix is considered the gold standard and has a price to match. Blendtec are also fab. I don’t have either and use a middle of the road one (although would dearly love a Vitamix) and it does the job. Buy the best that you can afford and you will be rewarded.
So here’s how to do it.
You need to choose a base for your smoothie. This might be a nut milk, coconut water, kefir, or just plain water. The amount you add will depend on the consistency you like your smoothie – it really doesn’t matter, and you can always add more at the end if you need to.
Choose your greens! Kale, spinach, silver beet/swiss chard, lettuce, beet greens, cucumber, celery, parsley, coriander/cilantro, basil, mint, etc. Peel the kale and silverbeet from their stems as they can make your smoothie bitter. It’s a good idea to rotate your greens, rather than using the same recipe each time. This will make sure your body has access to a range nutrients, and not too much of any one thing.
Vegetables and Fruit
Now add in any other veggies and fruit that you like. It’s nice to have a theme, rather than just adding anything and everything. Do you want a citrus flavour, berry deliciousness, sweetness from an apple or pear, etc. Common additions to my smoothies are berries, kiwi, apples, oranges, pear, bananas, and sometimes carrot and beetroot. Green smoothies don’t have to be green, and depending on the ingredients you may end up with any assortment of colours. Grate or cut the carrots or beetroot into small pieces before blending. And I always add lemon, for zesty deliciousness but also to extract as much iron as possible from your greens. Ultimately you want to aim for more vegetables than fruit, and as your taste buds adapt you will crave more and more greens. But if you are at the beginning of your green smoothie adventure, a couple of handfuls of spinach is always a good place to start.
Spice it up
Ginger is a frequent flyer at our place. I love the zingyness, but it is also wonderfully anti-inflammatory and warming on the digestion which will help you to assimilate your goodness. I love to add turmeric when I can also, again for it’s fabulous anti-inflammatory compounds among other things. Garlic sometimes gets a guernsey, but only with the savoury options. On the other end of the spice train, cinnamon and vanilla impart a beautiful fragrant sweetness to your brew.
Make it creamy
Adding banana, avocado, mango, cashews, or frozen fruit to your smoothies will give it a lovely creamy texture.
If you are pre or post-workout, or just feeling the need for a protein boost, add some nut butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nuts, bee pollen, flax seeds or tahini. This will also turn your smoothie into a much more sustaining beverage. Adding a healthy fat will also have this effect, such as avocado or coconut oil.
Fun it up
Go crazy on any optional extras that you like. Raw cacao powder goes beautifully with a nutty smoothie, spirulina is always welcome and adds extra protein also, fresh coconut meat is amazing, and superfood powders like acai berry, maca, maqui and the like are perfect for adding to smoothies. I often like to add a fun topping just for textural variation, like goji berries, coconut flakes, bee pollen, nuts/seeds, or home made granola.
So there you have my green smoothie 101. As a final piece of advice, I would suggest using seasonal produce, and organic where possible. Also, take your time drinking your smoothie, and for maximum benefit, chew it. This will help your body to extract every last piece of goodness. I wish you many happy blending adventures. Next post I will include my favourite green smoothie recipe. x