Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Green smoothies

Recently I started experimenting with our smoothies. I want my older daughter, who is dairy-free, to have more calcium in her diet from food (not supplements).

Somehow I stumbled onto the idea of Green Smoothies. These are very popular among people who are on a raw food diet, but truly would be a wonderful addition to any person's diet.

The concept of a green smoothie is pretty simple: leafy green vegetables blended with fruit into a smoothie. Many green smoothies are actually green in color, but I found that when strawberries are in it, that overpowers the green. Especially if the leafy green is spinach. When I use kale, the smoothie looks more brown.

Do you think this sounds gross yet? I promise you, it's not. With both spinach and kale (the only two greens I've tried so far), there is no taste difference.

The truth of that can be seen in the fact that my 5 year old daughter will drink it down and ask for more. And she knows there is a leafy green in it, I didn't try to hide that fact.

There are, I'm sure, a million different leafy green and fruit combos you can try. Someone recommended swiss chard, an apple and orange juice saying it was divine (but definitely green).

I have used kale with strawberries or mixed berries (frozen) and bananas, and I've used spinach with the same and added fresh pear as well.

For my part, I decided to start with what I know the girls will drink: strawberry and banana smoothie. At first, I added just one leaf of kale. Then two, and now it's up to three leaves which is roughly two 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

And truly, my daughter doesn't care. She adores these smoothies. My younger daughter - not so much. But she never was a big smoothie drinker in the first place.

I start by blending the kale first with 1/4 cup of milk (we use rice). Then add in the frozen strawberries, then the banana. There's no real recipe here - just make your smoothie the way you normally do, but use a little less fruit and add a leafy green.

I usually add a little bit of sugar and some additional rice milk if I feel like it needs to be smoother and thinner. You can add a protein powder or anything else you would normally put in a smoothie.

I have read it suggested that a green smoothie should be 40% leafy green and 60% fruit. I strive for that, loosely, but I don't follow it hard and fast. I figure any amount of leafy green we can add to our diet is a good thing.

My preferred leafy green is kale because it is such a nutritional powerhouse, but spinach and romaine lettuce work well.

The smoothie below contains 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup of frozen strawberries, 1 fresh pear, and 1 small banana. There is also some rice milk and about 2 teaspoons of sugar. It yielded about 2 1/2 cups of smoothie that I split with my daughter.

My exploration with green smoothies is by no means complete. I want to try adding fresh apple and using orange juice. I find them to be seriously delicious.

Help me out and tell me: how do you make YOUR smoothie?


  1. I *love* green smoothies! I also think that kale is best and have figured out that the best thing to do is to wash & chop the kale, throw it in a bag and into the freezer. Then, I use two handfuls of frozen, chopped kale in my smoothies and it blends to oblivion.

    My favorite additives are vanilla protein powder, water and frozen raspberries. (I add some stevia, too). Yumm!

    Thanks for giving some time to the green smoothie. :-)

  2. I am a good cook, really. But I have never, not once, managed to make a good smoothie, much less a great one. Can someone give me the approximate amounts of what you put in...and, oh yeah, the ingredient list, too? Ice? No ice? I'm so confused!

  3. I'm currently blending probiotic yogurt, peach nectar, frozen peaches and a banana for breakfast every morning. It never occurred to me to try adding green leaves... hmmm.

  4. Oh, and TC, no, you don't have to use ice if your fruit is frozen. I buy it frozen or freeze my own. And I use yogurt instead of milk, with the fruit juice to thin it out if necessary. I'll make you one when I'm in LA ;-)

  5. I never thought of this! I'm going to give it a try and see what my picky 11yo thinks. If I can get away with it tasting like strawberries and bananas, then I'm sold!

  6. Now that I finally have a good blender, I'm going to try these for both Nik and myself. Neither one of us gets enough leafy greens. I can eat other green veggies to compensate but he's still working out the whole chewing thing. This is a perfect solution!

  7. These are some great suggestions! I usually do my smoothies with orange juice, bananas, a little vanilla and either frozen strawberries, cherries, mangoes or peaches. Frozen peaches and a frozen banana make a particularly soft-serve ice cream texture. But, I really love the addition of greens. I am heading to the store now to get supplies--I just happened to read this before I was heading out anyway.