How to make a 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!
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.
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!