Just incase you have never had or made a green smoothie and would like to – you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a basic tutorial on how to make a green smoothie. Please keep in mind that some people might make theirs a little differently. I will try to add extra notes in places where it could be done differently. Keep in mind – if you have a high-powered blender like Vitamix or Blendtec you can just throw it all in and blend. Otherwise, in a normal blender, in stages is the best way to get a smooth blend.
Green Smoothie Basics
1. Put 1-2 cups of filtered water in your blender (depends on how thick you like it).
2. Add your greens. I usually use 3 large handfuls for a full blender (mine is a 40 oz blender but I only make my smoothie 32 oz). If you are new to green smoothies feel free to start with half of that and work your way up as you get used to it. This can be any green leafies such as spinach, kale, collards, chard, dandelion greens, butter lettuce, romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro. The list is longer than that. Baby spinach is usually a great one to start with. Blend water and greens together.
3. This is where you add your “extras”. Some people believe that other than water, greens and fruit you really shouldn’t add anything else. I am not one of those people. I am in the camp that believes that adding things such as flaxseed, chia seeds, coconut oil, etc are all good options. I do not, however, think that adding protein powder is necessary. If you are adding something like ginger root or peppermint leaves this is a good place to add those also. (If adding something like flax or chia seeds I would add 1 Tbsp to a blenderful – same with coconut oil.)
4. Here is where you would add ice if you want yours very slushy-like. Just handful will do. But let me mention – if you use frozen fruit then you can avoid using ice which can make your smoothie more watery than you wanted. If you drink it all up right away – ice will be fine. If you take a long time to drink it or you are like me and you make 2 blendersful in the morning and have one for breakfast and save the other for lunch – then adding ice to the smoothie for later isn’t a good idea. However, adding frozen fruit to your “later” smoothie turns out great.
5. Once water, greens, extras and possible ice are blended you can add your fruit. Fresh or frozen is the way to go. Canned should be avoided because of lesser nutrients and syrup that it’s canned in. There is also trace heavy metals that can leach into food from the cans. I almost always add a ripe banana to a full blender because it gives the smoothie the sweetness it needs without having to add any extra sweeter. I usually add about 1.5 cups frozen and/or fresh fruit after the banana. If you feel the need to add a sweetener you can try a bit of honey, agave nectar or something natural and no-cal like Stevia. Blend until smooth and enjoy your healthy meal or snack!
Things to note:
- Organic greens and fruit are best. As a general rule, if you know you can’t afford all organic then just get the “thin-skinned” items organic. Greens, apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, all kinds of berries, etc. Things like bananas, melon, pineapple, citrus fruits, etc are more thick skinned so the fruit is a bit more protected from pesticides. And just as a sidenote - organic greens are not that expensive. Just last night I got 3 huge bundles of organic kale for under $6. I am making lots of kale chips today! But usually for a week I would add kale into my smoothie greens rotation and only get one bunch – approx $2.50. A box of organic pre-washed baby spinach is $5 or $6 but will last me 2-3 weeks because I rotate(and yes, in the box they will last for weeks with no wilting).
- Now that I have talked about rotation I will tell you what it means! The best practice if you are going to have green smoothies every day is to “rotate your greens”. Kale one day, spinach the next, collards on the third. You get the picture. There are certain low levels of “plant poisons” in leafy vegetables. In low amounts they cannot hurt you and can actually help to boost your immune system. In large amounts they can build up acids in your body and you will start to see health effects from it. So you can have spinach several times a week. No problem. But use it intermittently with other greens. Some people mix their greens into one smoothie – that’s cool too. But try to continue to give your body a break. It’s okay to use a handful of field mix, handful of spinach and a giant collard leaf, but the next day change that mixture. Nuff said.
- Adding other veggies might sound like a good thing to do, but be careful what veggies you add. Things that are watery such as bell peppers, celery, cucumber, and tomatoes will work fine (and are perfect for savory smoothies instead of sweet.) Starchy and “gassy” veggies such as corn, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and other root vegetables… these should be avoided so as not to give you digestive problems later on. Something to remember – by blending these ingredients you make the nutrients in them immediately available to your body for use and absorption. When you combine starchy with your fruit and greens you also make their negative effects immediately available. Those veggies are better eaten plain with meals or as snacks.
- An avocado is a great addition to a smoothie. It’s extremely mild taste makes it undetectable in a green smoothie but it adds healthy fats and creaminess. The key is to pick a ripe avocado. They should be slightly soft to the touch with no mushy spots. Start with 1/2 an avocado and see how you like it. To wrap up the other half – keep the pit in (enzymes in the pit slow the browning process) and wrap tightly with a couple layers of plastic wrap). Or just eat the other half plain with a little salt! It’s delicious!
- Smoothies can be made ahead and will last 2-3 days, depending on how fresh they still taste to you at that point. I personally make 2 blenders full in the morning and drink one for breakfast (which equals 1 quart or 32 oz) and then put the other in the fridge with a plastic cap on it until lunch. Author and raw food expert, Victoria Boutenko stated in her book, “Green Smoothie Revolution” that she will make large batches of it if she goes on a road trip and keep it in jugs in coolers so she has enough for several days.
- Please note that if you don’t have a high-powered blender or even a regular counter top blender, smoothies can still be made in something small like a Magic Bullet, which is especially great for if you travel. I have used mine for smoothies a few times and it works well. Just cut the recipe down to 3/4 cup water, 1 cup greens, 1 banana (or even half) and a handful of fruit and you’re good to go!
Small update on my experiment… I usually have a complete obsession with the scale. I weigh myself – well, I won’t even say how many times a day. You will think I am insane. It’s kind of like a game to me. I like to see how much my food or water makes me gain through the day, etc. Anyway, I have wondered laterly if all that weighing is hindering my progress. I have always said that weighing every day keeps me in the know and if I gain then I can look at the previous day and see what I did wrong. I still believe that to some extent but I noticed something. If I have a really good day the next morning I have a loss then I will often loosen the reigns on my eating – almost like a reward for a job well done. That often gets me in trouble. So the next morning when I gain I am frustrated. It’s a viscious cycle. So, because I started this experiment on a Wednesday, I will weigh myself tomorrow morning and then put the scale away and try to resist all temptation to weigh until the following Wednesday. Oh boy, this is gonna be a long week….