I try to drink a green smoothie every morning and I love how they make me feel. Maybe it's because I'm convinced that I'm doing something uber healthy and kind for myself (like the food version of going to a spa), but they really do add a zing to my step and make me feel good (although not quite as smiley as the woman in the picture here, it is the mornings after all).
I'm not great at getting enough vegetables into my day (who is?) so for me green smoothies are a quick, easy and tasty way to eat more leafy green vegetables and fruit, particularly at breakfast time. My homemade green smoothies usually contain between 1-2 Canada Food Guide servings of vegetables and 1-2 servings of fruit per glass as well as lots of water, which most of us also don't get enough of.
The basic green smoothie recipe is a combination of leafy green vegetables, fruit (sometimes frozen) and water (sometimes ice cubes). If that’s all you ever put into green smoothies, that’s great. However, other things that can be added are:
- Other mild tasting vegetables like celery, cucumber, cooked squash or sweet peppers,
- Seeds and nuts (ground up), herbs, spices, nutritional powders,
- Yogurt or frozen yogurt,
- Juice, milk or non-dairy milks (soy, rice, almond, flax, etc.), or
- Liquid sweeteners (maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, etc.).
None of those additions are necessary; just add them according to your personal preferences.
When you first get started making green smoothies use tender, mild tasting greens like lettuce, spinach, sprouts, microgreens or salad mixes (spring mix). After you get comfortable with the taste of green smoothies, then you can try experimenting with more flavourful, hearty greens like kale, Swiss chard, beet greens, and dandelion greens. To add variety experiment with whatever local greens are in season and available from farmers, or try growing sprouts, lettuce, or microgreens yourself.
Choose soft fruits that have soluble fiber in them. Those soft fruits are what will give the smoothie its creamy, smooth consistency and sweetness. Good fruits for smoothies are fresh or frozen berries, bananas, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, mangoes, and nectarines. Green smoothies are an easy way to enjoy frozen local berries year-round, if you needed any more incentive to go berry picking this fall!
To make green smoothies:
Step 1: Add leafy greens- Put 1-2 handfuls of leafy greens into a blender. Start off with a small amount when you first make green smoothies and build up to more.
Step 2: Add fruit- Put 1-2 handfuls or scoops of fresh or frozen fruit into the blender, either whole or chopped up depending on the size of the fruit. Using frozen fruit will give you a colder, thicker smoothie.
Step 3: Add water- Pour cold water into the blender until it just covers the greens and fruit. For a thicker, colder smoothie use half water and half ice cubes.
Step 4: Add other ingredients (optional)- Put in other ingredients in small quantities. Adjust the water as needed to maintain consistency.
Step 5: Blend it up- Blend and then check the consistency, adjust the amount of water or other ingredients as needed, and re-blend. You'll have the best luck with a good blender that can really liquefy everything, leaving no large pieces.
Step 6: Pour and garnish- Pour the green smoothie into a tall glass and garnish it with fruit so it looks great or take it on the go with a reusable mug or mason jar.
Green smoothies can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for 2-3 days before drinking. The ingredients will likely separate so just give the smoothie a quick blend or shake it up in a jar with a lid before serving.
Try pouring green smoothies into reusable popsicle containers and freezing them to make healthy frozen treats.
Chop up over-ripe fresh fruit and freeze it to be ready for smoothies. Blanch and freeze local greens when they are in season and use them year-round in smoothies. Use this blog post from Root Cellars Rock as a resource for freezing fruits and vegetables.