Making a green smoothie is as easy as knowing what to put into it and getting used to using your blender. If you have a high speed blender like a Blendtec or a Vitamix, making smoothies is a snap, but with a regular blender it takes working at it and getting to know what your blender is or is not capable of and choosing your smoothies based on that.
There are virtually unlimited options for healthful, enjoyable smoothies. A good formula for smoothies is to add at least one cup of vegetables or fruit from each leafy greens, sulfur and color categories. These categories are thoroughly explained here: (click for link). If you already eat a lot of vegetables, you don’t need to start out by adding fruit to every smoothie, but most people start out needing their smoothies to be a little sweet.
When making a smoothie, add at least 8 oz. of liquid first. For larger smoothies or smoothies with a lot of frozen items, you may find that you need up to 16 oz. of liquid. Add powdered or tiny food, like seeds or nuts next, followed by leafy greens. Harder fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, apples, carrots, etc., should be cut into chunks and added on top of the greens. Finally add the ice or frozen fruits or vegetables. If you have a high powered blender, you should be able to add them all at once, but the leafy greens should be blended first when using a regular blender and the chunky items should be added and blended next. Frozen items should be added last.
An advantage of making smoothies is that more of the fruit or vegetable can be used. Apples and pears don’t need to be peeled or cored. Remove the stem, chop the apple into chunks and add it to the smoothie. Whenever I see a smoothie recipe that calls for lemon juice, rather than squeezing the lemon, I drop in half a lemon. Removing the seeds is easy. Divide the sections. Cut them in half and pop the seeds out. I even save the peel to use in my homemade orange-lemon cleaner. Some people like to add a bit of the lemon peel for added flavor and nutrition. Lemon peel has a high nutritional value. Too much can overwhelm the smoothie, so try a piece about the size of a nickel to begin with and go from there.
Hopefully you will be making smoothies daily. When you bring home your produce, wash and cut it in advance. Store it in the refrigerator and take it out daily to add to the smoothies. If you have a regular blender, be sure to chop everything in chunks that your blender will be able to handle. This advance preparation saves time and effort. There will still be some items that you use as you go, but this cuts back on how much prep work you will do each day.
If you have a high powered blender, store your produce in the freezer. It will last a lot longer than it would in the refrigerator. This allows more variety of smoothies since you won’t have to use up your produce within a few days. It will last for weeks in the freezer, so you can change up your smoothie recipe daily.
All smoothies need liquid to process properly. Using water is perfectly fine. There is no need to add anything more than water, but many people use other liquids to add to the nutritional value of the smoothie or to add flavor. Some of the sweeter or more tropical smoothies are enhanced by coconut or almond milk. Green tea doesn’t make much of a flavor difference, but it does add some amazing properties to the smoothie. The benefits of green tea are covered here: (click for link) I often make tea in a quart jar and store it in the refrigerator, so it is cold when adding it to the smoothie. Green tea is an inexpensive, powerful addition to a smoothie.
There are different kinds of non-dairy milks that can be added to smoothies. Our pantry includes coconut milk, almond milk and hemp milk, but mostly I use water or green tea for my morning smoothie. For the sweeter fruity smoothies, I tend to add coconut milk or almond milk.
Whole food refers to something that is complete, not necessarily something that is in its original form. (This article explains who foods and real foods: click here for link) For example, powdered rose hips are a whole food, as nothing has been removed, it is simply pulverized to make it easy to store and use. Rose hip powder is good for your joints and blood pressure. The phytonutrients needed for optimal health are retained. Another example of a whole food that is easy to add to a smoothie is chia seeds. Chia seeds are a tiny little black or white seed grown in South America. They are reputed to have been used by the Mayan’s for strength. My most recent smoothie included beet root powder and fresh ginger root.
Plain, unsweetened, yogurt with live cultures can be added to some smoothies, but it won’t work in most of them. It does taste good in fruit smoothies, even with some greens, like spinach. Yogurt with live cultures can help your gut to become healthier, which can significantly add to your overall health.
Be aware that adding lots of fruits and vegetables to a diet that has been lacking these items may lead to gas, bloating and digestive pain for a few weeks. If this happens to you, make sure you are drinking plenty of water and consider taking the transition a bit slower. More information on this is found in this article (click here for link).
Always add some fat to your smoothie. A study by Iowa State University showed that eating vegetables with some fat makes a significant difference in how much nutrition the body absorbs from vegetables. My smoothie recipes typically do not include added fat, but I personally always add chia seeds to my smoothie. I recommend adding a tablespoon of some sort of fat to your smoothie whether it be a healthy oil (like hemp seed oil or flaxseed oil), nuts, seeds, plain yogurt (do not use non-fat) or cocoa powder.
Another option for adding fat would be to take couple teaspoons of cod liver oil before drinking your smoothie. Despite what you may have heard, it doesn’t taste bad. It tastes like fish. Cod liver oil not only helps the body to use the fat soluble vitamins in your greens, but it is considered a super food that can help heart, brain and bone health, among other benefits.
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- Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate, page 168
- Link removed due to no longer being available. The article was, “Tips to Eat the Wahls Way™,” by Dr. Terry Wahls.
- Brown, M., American Journal of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2004; vol 80: pp 396-403