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May. 15 2010 - 4:28 pm | 1,171 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

How to make a green smoothie

Green Smoothie

For many of you that follow my blog, making a green smoothie is not a new thing.  But, for anyone else that has just started eating vegan – or is simply looking for some easy solutions to eat healthier – a green smoothie is a valuable addition to your culinary arsenal.

When I first heard about the idea of putting greens into a smoothie, I was turned off.  Couldn’t get past the idea of taking inherently bitter, sometimes fibrous and stringy greens, and pureeing them into… a drink!  And, when I announced the idea one morning to my husband, he looked at me and said something along the lines of “forget it, I’m not drinking something with kale in it – you’ve gone too far, Dreena“.

But, what we discovered is that when you blend greens like spinach, kale, or chard with sweet fruits like bananas, apples, mangoes, oranges, and/or pineapples, you truly don’t notice the taste of the greens.  The sweetness of the fruit predominates.

I have a few versions of green smoothies that I love.  My current favorite is a blend of chard leaves (about 3-4 full leaves, stalks removed), 1-2 apples (depending on size; skin left on, just core removed), frozen mangoes (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup), frozen sliced bananas (about 1 – 1 1/4 cups), and some water to get it all moving (about 3/4 cup)  (If I’m using fresh ripe bananas or mangoes that aren’t frozen, I may add some ice in place of the water to chill everything).  Sometimes I’ll add a few tablespoons of whole flax seeds or hemp seeds as well.  If you have a high-powered blender like a Blendtec, it will pulverize the heck out of those seeds, giving your smoothie a thicker consistency.  If you have a regular blender, opt for the hemp seeds (they are softer, and easier to blend), or some flax meal.  Add a few tablespoons of water to get everything moving in the blender, and you’re ready to go.   (This makes 2 medium-large smoothies.)

Here are some additional tips to get you drinking your greens!

Dinosaur Kale

1. Wash your greens well.  Some greens like kale can hold more grit, so fully submerge the greens in a sinkful of water, then rinse and shake off excess water.  (And, if you have extra to refrigerate after making your smoothie, dry remaining leaves either in towels or using a salad spinner.)  Which greens to use?  Spinach, swiss chard, and kale are all great choices.  You can experiment with different types of leafy greens, and even varieties within a family of greens (ex: dinosaur kale, purple kale, curly kale).

2. Add enough frozen banana and/or other sweeter fruits to balance the bitterness of the greens.  Greenish bananas are not what you want, though.  Let your bananas over-ripen, and then peel, slice, and store them (in large ziploc bags or in other containers) in your freezer.  If you aren’t overly fond of bananas, try frozen mangoes.  They are very sweet, and also lend some creaminess to the smoothie.  Also, you may find that you are okay with the bananas in combination with other fruits, like oranges, apples, or pineapple.  Note that red colored fruits (ex: strawberries, raspberries) will turn your smoothie a not-so-appealing brown hue.  The taste will be unaffected, so if you aren’t bothered by the change of color, go for it!  Also, if you want to ‘mask’ the green color (for children… or adults!), then frozen blueberries, blackberries, or acai pulp work magic.

Curly Kale

3.  Remove the leaves from the thick and tough portions of the stalks, and then blend the leaves very well with the fruits.  Add water to get everything moving, about 1/2 – 3/4 cup (you can add more later to thin if desired).  If using a standard blender, you will need to blend for a couple of minutes.  Blend until the greens are so pulverized that they are no longer visible other than infusing your smoothie with a beautiful green color.  If using a high-powered blender like a Blendtec, simply run the whole juice cycle, and if needed, pulse again after if any chunks of frozen fruit remain.  Kale leaves can take longer to fully blend than spinach or chard (especially depending on your blender).   I find that frozen fruits like banana and mango also help the blender cut through the greens.

4. After blending, dip in a spoon to taste test before serving up.  If you need more fruit, or need to thin it, do so. Once you’ve made enough of these (again, whether with this recipe or just adding to your own smoothies), you’ll probably skip this step, as you’ll have a sense of proportions needed.

5.  Make often, daily if possible!


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  1. collapse expand

    Currently in my third week of a vegan diet suggested by the book, Eat to Live, which my doctor recommended and have found recipes a bit disappointing. Last night in making a spinach and asparagus soup I reached vegan lunacy. Soup is not a complicated affair in the world of non-vegan cooking. Yet this recipe has me steaming vegetables and heating broth and making a roux with soy milk, all in different pans and using a vitamixer and a food processor. Which had me running around the kitchen like one of the three stooges. Looking at another soup recipe called for all of the above with the addition of a juicer. The result screamed for some salt and a dash of cream but my wife would have none of it.

    Can I live on green smoothies?

    • collapse expand

      libtree, you probably could live on green smoothies if made with enough of the right stuff! ;) But, please don’t despair with the exhausting soup matter. Agreed, soup should be a fairly easy matter. Soups and stews are one of my favorite things to cook, because I know the prep is relatively easy, and that I can usually get two meals out of one cooking effort. (Yes!)

      I haven’t tried any of the Eat to Live recipes, though I know that the program has been extremely helpful and effective for many people. Maybe this was one recipe that just didn’t work for you, that’s how recipes go sometimes. But also, I know that when a lot of fats (even good fats) are restricted (even if necessary for health reasons), it takes some time to get used to, because fat is a flavor carrier for the other ingredients in a dish. If you aren’t able to consume healthy fats at this time, try adding lemon or lime juice to your finished dishes, that will also help liven the flavors. Also, eating vegan in general involves palate adjustment, as you probably already know. Hopefully, soon enough, that dash of cream won’t come to mind! If I can help with any other suggestions or recipe ideas, please be in touch.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    libtree, try out some recipes from the Engine 2 Diet. I find them to be Eat to Live-friendly, and also relatively easy. In fact, I made the vegetable stir fry last night after a long workday while doing laundry at the same time. I had made the brown rice during some down time over the weekend, so dinner came together in a snap.

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    About Me

    I am the author of bestselling vegan cookbooks including "eat, drink & be vegan". I am a stay-at-home mom of 3 young children, and find time to cook, bake, create recipes, and blog somewhere in the day between feeding the kiddos, diapers, nursing babe, laundry, cleaning dishes, cleaning house, cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning... school drop-offs and pick-ups, and activities. Nap anyone?

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    Contributor Since: June 2009