What’s in Your Green Smoothie?

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I remember attending a seminar with “The Juice Man” as a kid with my family at the request of my mom. My mom has been into juicing ever since. We always had some kind of juicer around. I wanted to be into juicing growing up, but it always seemed like too much work to sustain on a daily basis.

The nice thing about green smoothies is that there isn’t some gross pile of pulp to cleanup afterwards like there is with juicing. It is a much more streamlined process to throw the ingredients in the blender and just rinse out a small cup afterwards.

Green Smoothies have really seemed to catch on over the past year or so. They make a great replacement meal for breakfast or lunch, or a treat in addition to usual meals. If you have never tried one, the idea of drinking blended spinach might seem less than yummy. I know I wasn’t convinced until I tried one. You will just have to give it a go to determine how it is for yourself, but I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the jolt of awesomeness that follows a good green smoothie.

Green Smoothie Basics

green smoothie ingredientsSeveral people have asked me what I put in my green smoothie. I pretty much have been making the same thing every time for the past few months, as follows:

  • about 2 handfuls of greens (usually spinach with some kale mixed in)
  • 2 to 4 pieces of frozen mango
  • 2 slices of frozen banana (if I have on hand and feel like it)
  • 1/8 avocado
  • 2 tablespoons flaxmeal (approximately)
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 cup of water
  • less than 1 scoop of pure stevia

We use a NutriBullet to make ours. The Nutribullet is nice because it is designed to make 1 or 2 servings at a time, and there is minimal cleanup afterwards. Many people I know who make green smoothies use this as well.

collage - green smoothie how to

1. Greens: It is recommended that green smoothie newbies start out with spinach as the green, and then slowly graduate to the other greens with more strong flavors, such as kale and collards. You could also do a mixture of spinach with 1 or 2 kale or collard leaves to adjust to the stronger flavors. I recently found a baby kale mix at Whole Foods that makes it really easy to just throw the greens in the cup with no prep.

2. Fruit: I prefer to use frozen fruits for convenience. Frozen mango pieces are great because they have a nice mild flavor and don’t discolor the smoothie. As much as I hate to be a snob about the color, it does seem so much nicer to drink a pretty green drink than a dark brown one. Berries seem to discolor the drink, so I have been sticking with my frozen mango pieces lately. Sometimes I will throw in a few frozen banana pieces. I buy the bananas and slice and freeze them myself for smoothies. If you are newer to green smoothies, I would suggest including a few pieces of banana for sweetness.

3. Flax: I add flaxmeal to get in omega-3s (in a nutshell, to reduce inflammation). We used to buy whole flax seeds and put a few tablespoons in the NutriBullet with some water to make a paste-like consistency before blending in the other ingredients. This is a good option if you don’t want the grittiness of the flax that you get from adding a few spoonfuls of flaxmeal. For now, I am just using flaxmeal since we had a bunch on hand, it is simpler, and the grittiness doesn’t bother me. The only thing that is slightly annoying is during the cleanup, because the little flecks of flaxmeal don’t easily rinse away from the NutriBullet, and even scrubbing it with a sponge doesn’t do the job completely sometimes.

4. Avocado: I was surprised to find that just 1/8 of an avocado can make the difference between a watery and a more creamy smoothie. I personally prefer a more creamy consistency, and love that I am getting the omega-3 boost from the avocado and flax combo. More about avocado in a minute…

5. Sweetener: We used to use Splenda as our primary sweetener for everything around the house. I never felt too good about it though, because artificial sweeteners have freaked me out ever since I read the warning about lab rats and cancer on the back of a Sweet’N Low packet at someplace like Pizza Hut as a kid. Really? I don’t care if there is evidence to the contrary; I never liked how it tasted anyway.

We tried to get into stevia, but didn’t like the flavor or mild nausea that seemed to accompany using it. Fortunately, pure stevia powder tastes better, so we have completely transitioned away from Splenda. Be warned though, this is a very potent sweentener. You really only need just a tiny sprinkling.

To give some perspective, 5 of those tiny scoops (pictured below) provide about the same amount of sweetness as a half cup of Splenda (or sugar). You will probably have to play around with it a bit, but I would suggest starting out with way less than a full scoop, maybe a half or less, and then taste as you go to figure out how much sweetness your smoothie will need. It is kind of hard to see, but I tried to give a visual of how much I used below.

collage - stevia

6. ice cubes: I personally think making the smoothie colder makes it taste better.

7. water: Don’t even think about skipping the water. I have made the mistake of not using enough water. The blending didn’t get very far.

A Few Avocado Tips

I put together this photo for anyone who is not familiar with how to use an avocado. I actually learned this by watching a girl at Whole Foods cutting an avocado for a sandwich one time.

collage - avocado with overlays

1. Slice the avocado lengthwise. (You don’t need to use a butcher knife. I always get that one out and then remember a steak knife would have worked just fine.)

2. There’s the avocado in half.

3. Holding one half of the avocado in your hand, make small lengthwise slices with a small knife.

4. Make a horizontal slice to cut the avocado half in half.

5. Scoop out however much avocado you will be using. You can certainly use more avocado in the smoothie. I found that 1/8 is enough to make the smoothie creamy.

Now that you have 7/8 of an avocado left:

Collage - avocado 2

I put some lemon juice on the unused portions (maybe 5 or 6 drops per half) and put them back in the crisper in the fridge in a sandwich baggie that I have sucked all the air out of (this is a trick I learned from Michael to help preserve food in baggies).

In general, I like using the same ingredients each time. It simplifies my shopping list, and takes the guesswork out of what will go into the drink. I like how it tastes, and don’t feel the need for any more variety right now. There are TONS of green smoothie recipes out there though, so if this one doesn’t sound good, I encourage you to explore the wonderful world of green smoothies. I am sure that I will change it up at some point in the future, but for now, I am enjoy this simplification in shopping and meal planning.

collage - final

Your turn: What’s in your green smoothie? Please share your thoughts below. Namaste.

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