Basic Green Smoothies 101

Creative Commons – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rusty_clark/7557653406/

Green Smoothies are life changing. I am not just saying that to get your attention. I truly believe that. But when you first start out, you may have a lot of questions. I would like to answer your questions here. Keep in mind, definitions of green smoothies, change from person to person. I, personally, have never had a ‘green’ green smoothie. I did make ice cream with bananas, mangoes, and pineapples, but never a green, green smoothie.

Basic green smoothies, for me, anyway, are:

  • 1 cup greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc) (a good handful)
  • 1 banana (riper is better)
  • About 1 cup of nondairy milk
  • 1 cup blueberries (or any other dark fruit), preferably frozen
  • 3 – 4 cubes of ice, if you want it to be a frozen green smoothie

That is what you start out with. When I first started out, I measured the ingredients. Only the first couple of times, though. After that, I measured by sight.

The Green Part of a Green Smoothie

Creative Commons – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rusty_clark/7557653406/

Actually, the green part of a green smoothie is not just the actual greens. That includes anything that you might want to add, like celery, cucumber, carrots, or anything else that you might want to add. When you do add these ingredients, add one new ingredient at a time. That way, if it affects your smoothie’s taste, you know exactly what caused it and what the effect is.

There are many types of greens and you will want to know how they can affect your smoothie. For instance, arugula is said to have a peppery taste that you will want to be prepared for, but lots of health benefits.

The best greens for a green smoothie newbie are spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, and romaine. They have a lot of health benefits, but are less likely to leave an ‘objectionable’ taste in your smoothies.  Make sure that your ingredients are as organic as you can afford (or find). I live in Kansas and have a heck of a time finding organic food in any amount.

 

Nondairy Milk (or something like that)

Creative Commons photo shot by me

Whether or not you are using frozen ingredients, you will still need to add some type of liquid to thin it down a bit. You could add water, if you like, but while it is nutritionally sound, it doesn’t add a lot of flavor. My favorites are the various types of non dairy milk options.

You don’t want to use milk, it adds a lot of calories and not very much nutrition to your smoothie. The milk is not meant for us to eat, and the nutrients that you will get from a milk, is minimal. If you must do it, use organic milk and milk without any growth hormone.

The nondairy milks that are out there give you a lot of options. However, just like anything, there are options that are more, or less, healthy. Basically, the better it tastes, the more sugar and less nutrition there is in it. If you get the ‘original’ or ‘unsweetened’, you will be doing pretty well. The sweeter ones are great when you are making a dessert smoothie.

Juice is another liquid that people use. Processed juice has very little nutritional value and a lot of sugar. Adding juice to your green smoothie is definitely not recommended. It, as well as any good tasting addition, can add lots of taste to your smoothie, but no nutrition. It’s a slippery slope to get started down, so try to avoid that one.

Bulk and Sweetener

Creative Commons – https://www.flickr.com/photos/cyclonebill/4623303489/

Bananas are great and easy to get in most parts of the world. They add bulk and sweetener to your green smoothie and help keep it from separating so quickly. The vegetables that you are adding to your smoothie will start separating almost immediately. The bananas help to slow that process down and adds a more palatable texture for you to enjoy.

What if I don’t like bananas? That’s ok! You have a lot of options. The internet can help you with the full scope of choices that you have, but I will get you started. You can use fruits like apples, pears, mangoes, pineapples, apricots, avocadoes and many other options.

Pick Your Fruit

Creative Commons = https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreyww/34558043583

I mention blueberries over any other fruit because it is more easy to get, which makes it more affordable. That being said, they are also a nutritional powerhouse!

I don’t think I have ever used fresh blueberries. My personal preference is to use frozen blueberries. They are frozen at their peak time and cease oxidizing (losing nutrients) at that time. I also LOVE frozen green smoothies. It’s like having a dessert every day!

For your fruit, the best fruit for the bulk of your smoothie is dark fruit. Dark cherries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, marionberries, etc. Just like the darker greens, the darker fruit has more nutrients in them.

Of course, use whatever you want. There are SO many recipes out there for green smoothies and once you have the recipe down, you can change it up to fit you! Your green smoothie is what you make of it.

Putting It All Together

I won’t address the specifics of blender choices. There will be an article written on the subject, soon. But I will talk you through making a green smoothie.

  1. Use the recipe, listed above, or use an adaption of it, or whatever suits you, best.
  2. In your blender, put in your greens and your liquid, whatever it is.
    1. You will want to blend it thoroughly at this point. This makes sure that your greens are broken down enough and saves abuse on your blender (even a Blendtec or Vitamix!).
    2. Add the bananas, or whatever your ingredient of choice. Alternatively, you could throw in a mixture of mangoes, pineapples, or any or all of the above. Keep in mind that the more of any type of ingredient that you use, the more ‘generic’ your smoothie will taste. Some call it ‘muddying’ the taste.
    3. You can blend it now, but since it’s just bananas, it isn’t quite as vital. If you have a lower speed blender, you probably will want to. This is because the blueberries will be a bit of a challenge by themselves.
    4. Add your blueberries. Fresh or frozen is fine. If you use frozen blueberries, you won’t need to add ice.
    5. Blend again, until it is as smooth as you like it, or as smooth as your blender can get it.
    6. Drink up!

I have always liked, and preferred, frozen green smoothies. There are some that will say that it isn’t good for you, they are healthier, this way, or that way, but I like my green smoothies. If I didn’t like them, I wouldn’t have them every day, no matter how healthy they are. If my smoothies aren’t frozen, I will freeze them for a while, because that is how much I prefer the slightly frozen, or frozen, smoothie.

What I am saying, is, if it isn’t just like someone else that is doing it, that’s ok. What matters, is, does it work for you. That is what is most important. What have you done in the past, with similar situations? Did you adjust it to make it work for you, or did you try it, it failed, and that’s it? Or in between?

I look forward to hearing from you.