Thursday, October 14, 2010

Green Smoothies

I cannot believe that I haven't posted about green smoothies before now.  I was in total shock a month or two ago when I searched for my post on them and realized there was none.  My discovery of green smoothies about 4 years ago are one of the highlights of this past decade for me!  I'm not kidding.  They're amazing.

A green smoothie is basically a delicious and healthy fruit smoothie with a handful of greens thrown in.  You don't taste the greens (unless you use something strong).  The fruit is the dominant flavor.

Few people eat enough fruits and vegetables in a day.
Green smoothies can change that!

Green smoothies are simple to make. I'll walk you through the process.

You whip them up in a blender. Most any blender will work. I used a cheaper blender for several months. That will do, so don't let the appliance stop you from trying this out.  The really good blenders (Vitamix and Blendtec) are the very best. When you get really serious about smoothies, you may want to splurge on one of these.  I have the Blendtec.  My sister has the Vitamix.  Both are equally good.

I start with around 20 to 24 oz of water.  If I'm adding juiced citrus, I'd use less.  If I want it really cold and milk-shakey and plan to add ice, I'd use less water.

Next I add a handful of greens.  My favorite greens are spinach and kale.  Those have a really subtle flavor.  Sometimes I add bits of parsley or mint.  Those flavors are stronger, but pleasant.  I have played around with other greens and will continue to do so. I made an arugula smoothie once that had to be dumped out.  Arugula is very strong.   After doing the smoothies for a while you'll find you start wanting more greens.  If you are just starting out or wanting to get your family on board, use less.

I'm on a kick right now where I enjoy adding a bit of flax seed.  I grind it in a Kitchen Aide coffee grinder until it's a powder.  The flax is really healthy and as an added bonus, it helps the consistency of the smoothie.

Next I add a spoonful of protein powder.  This is mostly for my husband.  He likes the subtle vanilla flavor.  Plus, he likes that with the added protein, he stays satisfied longer and the smoothie can replace a meal.  I have played around with different powders.  I am still on a search for one with fewer ingredients.  One of these days I'm going to try getting just plain whey and adding my own vanilla.  Some of the popular powders out there have too much sugar, corn syrup, and or too many ingredients that are questionable.  Shhhh.  Don't tell my DH, but I have cut back the amount of powder I add over the years.

Next I add fruit.  In this smoothie I have pineapple, mango, peaches, and strawberries.  Organic is best if you can manage.  Fresh is best.  Frozen is fine.  Canned will do in a pinch.  When you are just starting, you will probably like the smoothies to be extra sweet.  Add bananas or apples for added sweetness.  
The color of the smoothie will vary according to what you add. If you use yellow or light colored fruits, your smoothie will be a beautiful shade of green.  If you use red or blue fruits (like berries), the color will be sort of a purple color.  I've heard a few smoothie experts swear that kids are more apt to go for the purple colors.  I think the color is ugly and prefer the color of the greens.  Once you are hooked on smoothies, you won't care that much.

Next I blend.  The picture above is about halfway through the blending process.  There are still bits of green and chunks of fruit.

By the end, you should see no bits and pieces.  This is where you notice the difference between a good blender and a great one.  With a good blender, it takes longer to get this consistency.  For the money difference, you may not care!

I end up with two quarts.  My hubby can down one in no time.  I drink about half at a time and put the rest in the fridge for later.  Drinking immediately is best, but you can make these ahead.  Sometimes I make a batch in the evening for the next morning if I have someplace to go.  One smoothie guru says to drink them within 24 hours and I agree.  After it sits awhile, it can separate - watery at the bottom and foamy at the top.  Just shake it up and it's fine.

Finally, clean up your mess.  The blender should be cleaned immediately.  Just put a bunch of water in and 1 tiny drop of detergent.  Blend.  Rinse.  I can make a batch within 10 minutes and that includes the time getting everything out and cleaning up.

Don't use the same ingredients every day
You want to get a wide variety of nutrients! 

It's good to vary the greens.  We tend to overdo on the spinach because it's so easy to get organic, washed, and ready to go.  I'm growing several different kales right now and can't wait to start using those.  I'm also planning to grow some swiss chard and parsley.

Fruits are easy to change.  I keep lots of different fruits in the freezer and change with my mood. I keep my opened fruits double bagged - sealable fruit bag inside of a freezer baggie - to avoid that freezer taste

You can add in all sorts of extra stuff to kick up the health or enhance the taste - flax oil, coconut oil (yummy!), spirulina or other green powders, etc., but that really isn't necessary. I like adding the oils for the omegas. 

Citrus is at it's best here in the winter.  They are great in smoothies.  Here's one of my hubby's favs ~ 1 grapefruit (juiced), 1 orange (juiced), 1 apple (cut in slices), 1 good handful of spinach, 2 1/2 cups of water. Optional: a little orange zest. For juicing the citrus, the Black and Decker CitrusMate Plus Citrus Juicer is less than $20 and works great.

I heard about green smoothies first on Oprah in an interview with Kris Carr (author of Crazy Sexy Cancer) and Dr. Oz, who is a big proponent of green smoothies.  Oprah tasted one and, if I remember correctly, said it was like drinking a bottle of fresh.  My husband and I were watching the show and it had our complete attention because we had just buried my husbands brother the day before.  He had died from cancer.  It was one of those moments where you feel ~ oh I don't know how to describe this. As if we were being given something important. I knew we were meant to see this show.

As I first got started on smoothies, Green Smoothie Girl was one of my main resources.  Her site has a great video demonstration and lots more information.  It's been awhile since I perused her site.  I see that she's added all sorts of new things.  I think I might need to go explore.

I enthusiastically recommend green smoothies!  They are amazing and somewhat life changing.  If you have stomach issues and don't do well with greens, you WILL be able to tolerate them in smoothies.  They are a must for anyone with health challenges.  If you are in good shape, add smoothies to your diet to keep it that way. 

More of My Smoothie Posts:
Watermelon Juice
Making Almond Milk
Frappuccino Pick-Me-Up

Obviously, some are more healthy than others!

I plan to join in with the following parties 
in hopes that green smoothies will be introduced to more people:


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