Green smoothies are a delicious blended drink made from fruit and leafy greens.
We all know if we want to be healthy we should eat more greens. But many people don't like greens. Even if you're one of the people who does like greens, the secret to getting even greater nutritional and health benefits from them is to eat them raw, leaving all the nutrients intact, and to chew them very thoroughly to rupture the cell walls and expose the nutrients within. But the amount of chewing required makes it difficult. Green smoothies are a perfect solution in both cases.
I must admit that when I first heard about green smoothies I thought, yuck! It took me a while to get to the point of trying one. Now, I'm a convert. Not only do they taste great (if you follow my tips for making them), but the benefits are amazing. One of the most noticeable benefits for me has been vision. I've been nearsighted (myopic) since I was 12 years old. When I'm drinking green smoothies every day I definitely notice an improvement in my vision.
What If You Don't Like Greens?
If you gag at the thought of blending up greens and drinking them, here's the good news. In a green smoothie you use more fruit than you do greens. The fruit masks the taste of the greens, and neutralizes the bitter taste that some greens have, and adds natural sweetness to the drink. There's a technique to making tasty green smoothies, but it's simple. Once you've mastered it, even kids will love the taste of them.
Because you're blending the greens in a high-powered blender, the blades are able to liquefy the greens far more thoroughly than we can by chewing. This releases the nutrients from the indigestible cellulose, making them more easily available to our digestive system.
The Trick To Making Tasty Green Smoothies
There are three important tips for making sure your green smoothies taste great. The first, is make sure the fruit you use is ripe. Second, always use one either bananas or mango in your smoothie. Finally, don't add too many leafy greens.
The sweetness and taste of the fruit will override the taste of the greens, but only if the fruit you use is flavorful to begin with. That means the fruit has to be ripe. Ripe bananas, for instance, are the ones where the peel has started getting brown spots. A ripe banana will be sweeter and more flavorful than when it's green because as it ripens the starches will convert to sugars. Ripened fruit is also easier to digest, and has greater nutritional value. Where possible, grow your own or shop for your fruit at farmer's markets where the fruit was more likely to be ripened on the tree or vine.
Always use mango or bananas as a base for your smoothie creation. Because of their consistency both fruits create a smoother texture and keep the ingredients from separating so much. They also both have a strong, sweet taste that will help to mask the taste of the greens.
If you hate greens, or if you've already had a green smoothie and it was too ‘green' for you, don't give up on them, just add fewer greens next time. It's better that you start off slow and have fewer greens than abandon greens altogether. As your body starts getting the nutritional benefits from a daily green smoothie, your tastes will change and you'll find yourself wanting more green in your smoothie. It's important to listen to your body and do what works for you.
What Goes Into A Green Smoothie?
The basic ingredients of a green smoothie are water, bananas or mango (the base), leafy greens, other ripe fruit that you like or have available. Berries are a great addition to your green smoothie, and most are high in antioxidants and other important nutrients.
What Exactly Are Leafy Greens?
This is an important distinction to make, leafy greens are not vegetables. You want to make sure that you add leafy greens and not vegetables to your green smoothies.
Vegetables as we know them, fall into 4 categories:
- Roots: are the vegetables where the part we eat grows underground. Carrots, potatoes, beets, and turnips are examples of root vegetables.
- Fruit: these are the vegetables that are not sweet but have seeds inside them, just like the sweet fruits which we commonly call fruit. Zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant, pumpkin, beans and peas.
- Cruciferous: these are vegetables in the Brassica family, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.
- Leafy greens: as their name suggests, leafy greens are the green leaves of edible plants. Some of these leafy greens are grown specifically for the leaf itself, such as lettuce, kale, spinach, celery, and parsley. Leafy greens can sometimes be found as the green leafy tops of root vegetables, such as carrots, beets and turnips. There are many wild edible plants (i.e., weeds) that produce leafy greens too, such as dandelion leaves, plantain, chickweed, purslane, yellow dock. If you decide to try wild edibles please be certain that you've correctly identified the plants and that they aren't in a area where they may have been subjected to chemical sprays and other poisons. When picking dandelion, plantain and yellow dock try to find the young leaves they'll be the best tasting.
What Not To Eat
Be sure to avoid picking and eating the leaves of the nightshade family. Many of our common and favorite vegetables belong to the nightshade family, and the leaves are poisonous. So NEVER put potato, tomato, eggplant, or bell pepper leaves in your green smoothie!
How To Make A Green Smoothie
To make a green smoothie add 4 cups of water to your blender. Rinse a handful of greens, and remove any thick or fibrous stems. Add greens to the blender. Put on the lid and blend, starting on low and turning your blender up to high. Blend until you can't distinguish any bits of leaf. Add 3-4 bananas (or one mango) depending on how thick you like your smoothies. Add other fruit and berries as you like, removing pits, cores and peels if necessary. Blend again until smooth. Serve and drink fresh.
Some greens that go particularly well in green smoothies are kale, spinach, parsley, Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce, and young dandelion leaves.
Frozen fruits works well in green smoothies, especially in warmer weather, it will make a nice cold refreshing drink. You can also substitute some of the water with ice cubes.
High powered blenders (at least 1000 watts) are best when it comes to making green smoothies. But if the blender you have isn't that powerful, don't worry. You may just have to chop the ingredients into smaller pieces so you don't put too much strain on your blender. It might also work better if you add half the water and the leafy greens to start, blend them as thoroughly as you can, then add the rest of the water and the fruit and blend again.
How Much To Drink And When
Green smoothies are a meal in themselves. They are packed with nutrition, and because they are a blended drink they include lots of fiber and are therefore very filling. They are great as a meal replacement for one or two meals a day. Drink a cup or a quart (liter) at a meal.
They are best consumed on their own, rather than with food. By not mixing them with other, solid food, you ensure that your body will have an easy time digesting them and get the maximum nutritional value. Because they are so easy to digest may find that you have more energy than if you ate a heavy meal, because your body doesn't have to expend as much energy digesting.
The Easiest Way To Get Started With Green Smoothies
Well, this was what worked for me anyway. Like I said at the start of this article, I had a bit of, um, resistance to green smoothies. What helped convert me was a fun and informative ‘challenge'. It's called the 3-Day Green Smoothie Challenge. It's fun, and it's free. I decide to do the challenge after finding out about it while searching for more information about green smoothies. The nutritional information about green smoothies impressed me so much I just had to try it. I figured I could handle it for 3 days. Well I loved it so much I just kept going after the 3 days was up. I did that for a couple of months. They'll explain everything you need to do to get started, and send you a daily support emails with information and 3 recipes a day to choose from (or you can create your own of course).
Then for some reason I eventually stopped doing the green smoothies. I started doing more superfood smoothies, things like maca, mesquite and raw cacao. At first I mixed them into the green smoothies, but then I don't know exactly why, maybe the greens were coming to an end in the garden, anyway, I stopped doing the green smoothies. I was drinking these expensive superfoods instead – supposed to be totally awesomely nutritious. And you know what? I actually feel more benefit from the green smoothies. The maca did have huge benefits, I just sailed through menopause quite easily once I started having it every day in my smoothies. But it's really nice added to green smoothies too.
I've started up with the green smoothies again, and it's the best thing I could have done. Do you ever notice how you can make positive change in your life or diet, and you feel good because of it. But then for some reason you stop and fall back, and don't feel so good. Then you start implementing the positive change again and you really notice the benefits so much more the second time around. Does that happen to anyone else? Or is it just me? Anyway, I've been drinking green smoothies for about a month now. Every day. I've been listening to an interview from the Women's International Summit for Health with Victoria Boutenko, the raw food pioneer who discovered and popularized green smoothies. I went back and read all of the books I got when I did the green smoothie challenge. The challenge is free, but there is also a very affordable book, Green Smoothie Queen’s Complete Guide to Green Smoothies. It has tons of information, recipes and an interview with Victoria Boutenko. There's also a Q&A with Victoria, and they are well worth the price. I've just learned so much more in the past couple of days by reading them, I highly recommend them.
So are you up for a challenge?
Do your body a favor and sign up for the green smoothie challenge.