What are Green Smoothies?
Leafy greens are some of the best vegetables you can eat. They are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, phyto-nutrients and all sorts of other good stuff. Getting more of those vegetables in your diet should always be a big nutritional goal. They make great salads, you can add them to soups and stir-fry, or steam them and have them as a side dish with dinner.
Those are all great options, but even so you don’t end up with a whole lot of greens in your diet. The fact is that vegetables are best consumed raw and it’s hard to consume several cups of greens a day without starting to feel like a rabbit.
Thankfully there’s an easy way to consume several cups of greens in one meal … and it’s tasty too. I’m talking about green smoothies. If you haven’t tried them, you’re in for a treat. If you have tried one or two and didn’t like them, you just haven’t come across the right green smoothie for you yet.
There are recipes out there for any taste buds from sweet and refreshing, to savoury and spicy, and even some thick, rich smoothies that almost make you think you’re having a milk shake.
At its most basic a green smoothie is a mixture of green leafy vegetables, other fruits or veggies and water. Everything is thrown in a blender and blended until smooth. The end result is a thick smoothie.
Drink a green smoothie first thing in the morning to get a healthy breakfast on the go and start your day with a few servings of vegetable and fruit. Or blend up a smoothie for lunch instead of your usual salad. Of course green smoothies make great snacks as well.
If you’re on the go a lot, invest in a smoothie bottle. You can blend, pour and take your smoothie with you. You can even make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to a day before drinking. Once you get in the habit of making green smoothies there are really no excuses for not eating healthy.
The Benefits of Drinking Green Smoothies
Green smoothies are delicious and something you should try simply because they taste good and help you get more veggies in your diet. But the good news doesn’t stop there. Getting in the habit of blending and drinking one of these smoothies a day has quite a few beneficial side effects.
Green Smoothies Help You Get More Veggies In Your Diet
Let’s start with the obvious. Green smoothies are a great way to sneak more veggies into your diet. And not just yours. Get your whole family to enjoy these yummy drinks.
It may take a little sweet talking to get the kids to try them, but if you load their first few smoothies up with lots of fruit (like bananas and apples or using apple juice to replace some of the water), they’ll quickly come to love them as much as you do.
Of course, coming up with a cool name like mean green monster drink, or ogre juice doesn’t hurt either.
Green Smoothies Give You a Vitamin and Mineral Boost
Along with all the veggie goodness, you get a nice big boost in vitamins and minerals with each smoothie. And that’s a big deal. Plant and real food based nutrients are much easier to absorb and better for you than that multi-vitamin you swallow each day.
Green Smoothies Have Lots of Antioxidants, Phytonutrients and Chlorophyll
In addition to those nutrients, green smoothies are also full of antioxidants, phytonutrients and chlorophyll. Scientists aren’t completely sure what all those phytonutrients do, but the consensus is that they’re good for us and something we need.
Antioxidants of course help bind and remove free radicals coursing through your system. The end result is better health and possibly a reduced risk of cancer.
Chlorophyll isn’t something that’s talked about very often, but science suggests that it can give your immune system a boost. There are even claims that it helps purify your blood.
In any case all those extra nutrients result in better health, mental clarity and focus, and you may just start to look better too.
Green Smoothies are Full of Fiber – Better than Juicing
We know we need to get more fiber in our diet. The typical western diet is sorely lacking in this “ingredient”. Fiber is important for proper digestion and since it’s slow to impossible to digest, it helps keep you full longer.
Getting more fiber in your diet can be a challenge, unless you get in the habit of eating a lot of veggies and some high fiber fruit like berries. Both work perfect in green smoothies. Try adding frozen berries to your smoothies to thicken them and keep them ice cold.
Whenever you bring up green smoothies, there’s usually some talk about juicing as well. The big benefit of blending this smoothies that include the entire fruit or vegetable (or in the case of leafy greens, then entire leaf or even plant), instead of just the juice. This means you’re getting all the good fiber along with all the other nutrients.
Green Smoothies are Great for Weight Loss
Last but not least let’s talk about weight loss. Green smoothies are fairly low in calories and if you’re working towards cutting down on the fruit you add, pretty low in sugar as well. Instead they are full of fiber and various nutrients your body needs.
Enjoying a smoothie a day (or even two), can help cut down cravings and fill you up with low calorie food that’s good for you. The end result is almost effortless weight loss. Give it a try and see if green smoothies aren’t the thing that helps you lose those stubborn extra five pounds.
With all these great benefits to be gained when you start drinking a daily green smoothie, I’m sure you’re anxious to get started.
Getting Started with Green Smoothies
Making green smoothies is surprisingly quick and easy. All you need is a blender, greens, fruits and veggies, and some water. You can make your smoothies sweet or savoury. Try a few different combinations until you find the smoothie that’s right for you.
Pay attention to texture too. Some people prefer a rich, creamy smoothie that’s more the consistency of a milk shake. If that’s you, add some banana, avocado, or crushed ice to your smoothies to thicken them up. And go light on the water or any other liquid you’re adding.
If you prefer your smoothies thinner, more like the consistency of orange juice, stick to greens, a little fruit and water-rich produce like cucumbers or melons for example. Add plenty of water or juice as you blend your smoothie.
Here are a few simple smoothies to get you started. Feel free to mix and match ingredients and come up with your own variations.
Banana and Greens
Blend one banana and one head of romaine lettuce with enough water to get the consistency you like in your smoothie. Pour and enjoy!
Spinach and Berries
Blend 2 cups of spinach, ½ cup of frozen berries, 1 cup of orange juice and enough water to get the consistency you like.
Gazpacho “Green Smoothie”
Blend 2 cups of mixed greens, 1 tomato, ½ a small cucumber, ¼ of a green pepper and a small chunk of onion with water or chicken broth. Season with pepper or hot sauce and enjoy!
Kale & Pineapple Smoothie
Toss 1 cup chopped baby kale, 1 cup fresh pineapple, and 1 cup diced cucumber in the blender and blend with enough water to get the consistency you like.
Kid-friendly Green Smoothie
Blend 1 frozen banana (cut into chunks), 2 cups of baby spinach, apple juice and water until smooth. Play around with the juice to water ratio. More juice results in a sweeter smoothie. Start them off with more juice than water if they need the sweetness, then slowly start to cut back.
As you start to play around with these green smoothies, you can get adventurous and add other ingredients. Ginger is nice. It gives your smoothies a little kick and it’s good for you. Soaked chia seeds are another great healthy add-on.
Or, try a little ground flaxseed meal. As you get more into green smoothies, learn more about the different super foods and add-ons that can improve your green smoothies.
Growing Your Own Greens and Micro Greens for Smoothies
Green smoothies are amazing and I’m sure you can tell by now that I’m a big fan. The only problem is that you need a steady supply of fresh greens to make them. That means frequent trips to the grocery store – which can get quite pricey. This is particularly true if you’re sticking to mostly organic, local product.
Thankfully there’s an easy solution for this. Grow your own greens and micro greens for these smoothies at home. It’s a lot easier than you think.
Here’s a quick and easy way to get started and get your green thumbs wet. Go buy some organic heads or romaine lettuce at the store for your next batch of smoothies. Cut off the stalk end and set them in a small glass container. Add enough water so the light, stalky part is well covered. Sit then in a sunny window and watch fresh new romaine lettuce grow.
You can stop there and harvest the new growth after a week or so for your smoothie, or if you’re seeing roots develop, plant the stalks in some potting soil and grow entirely new heads of lettuce.
That was quick and easy, right? How about something almost as simple – growing your own micro greens. Micro greens are tiny little leafy green seedlings that are just a little bit more grown up than sprouts. Grab some lettuce or radish seeds and a hallow container for planting. Fill it with potting soil and sprinkle your seeds over it. Gently cover with a little more soil and water until the soil is well moistened.
Keep your planter in a warm spot and before long you’ll see little sprouts appear. Next the plants get their first two leaves. After that, real leaves start to appear and once you see 4 or 5 of those, you can start harvesting your micro greens. Add more seeds and repeat the cycle.
Of course you don’t have to stop there. You can grow lose leaf lettuce in a bowl or pot on your window sill in the same manner. Or grow your seedlings indoors and then transplant them into a container or garden bed outside. Or weather permitting grow your lettuce outside from seed to harvest.
And don’t stop with the lettuce. Grow some radishes, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, peppers and even berries at home. It’s a lot of fun and a great hobby to get into. And I promise your smoothies will taste even better when you start to grow your own produce.