Green Smoothies: A Beginner’s Journey

Green Smoothies- A Beginner's Journey - BoulderLocavore.com

Have you noticed the digital shift from decadent dishes and cocktails to celebrate the New Year to healthy fare, indicating a universal desire to get in better shape and improve one’s diet?  We in the Boulder Locavore household are no different.  We noshed lazily through the holidays and thanks to Santa got our not-as-firm-as-they-could-be posteriors into gear.  We don’t eat enough vegetables.  We just don’t.  The summer is an easier time with everything  in season to make up cool salads or grill up vegetables but in the cold months the potent greens and root vegetables do not adorn our plates nearly enough.

Christmas morning delivered a brand new Vitamix blender.  The coveted Mac-Daddy of all blenders.  It has been on our kitchen wish list for some time.  Secretly I did not really imagine blenders could be THAT different but with one flip of a switch I quickly realized I probably could turn tree trunks into frothy delicacies with this baby.

The covert agenda with the blender gift was to get more fruits and vegetables into our family diet and clearly Green Smoothies popped to mind as obvious.  I was, however, initially resistant to this next step.  I don’t LOVE smoothies anyway.  I prefer to eat my calories not drink them.  I never feel good when I drink conventional juice.  It just makes me feel ‘weird’.  Some of the colors of the smoothies I see the hard body yoga-pant clad health set around Boulder drinking also scare me.  I could not imagine something in the brown-green family tasting like anything other than licking the earth and I’m just not up for that.

Dark green leafy vegetables in colander | BoulderLocavore.com

Fortunately the little bit of redeeming knowledge that saved me from running headlong toward the liquor cabinet instead the vegetable bin for options to blend was from a juicing workshop I did.  I had the same sweaty palmed response when the cheery instructor with the ever glowing skin started pulling out the leafy greens promising a bold new universe in which we were about to venture.  The moral of that story was that I ran right out and bought a juicer having seen the light at the end of the cruciferous vegetable tunnel and hoped I too might soon have a luminescent glow as did the instructor.

Part of my mercurial Gemini nature is that I quickly tire of new habits.  The cleaning of the juicer became cumbersome and frankly I felt the vegetable pulp fiber which was discarded in the juicing was a waste and a loss in the health process.  The arrival of the Vitamix renewed my interest in creating delicious, fresh, live juice although in the form of pulverized vegetables including all the nutrients.

What I learned immediately is that anything goes.  Almost anything can be added into a smoothie but I was seeking Green Smoothies, the most seriously nutrient rich approach possible.  No dairy, no unnatural sweeteners and nothing I would have to choke down I the name of New Year’s resolutions or good health.

With a fridge full of fresh vegetables and fruit the concoctions began.  I was delighted that my 10 year old son was my co-pilot, equally excited about creating his own combinations and completely willing to drink anything.  I was surprised that the greens bore natural sweetness that was amplified by the simple addition of a fruit or two.  Nothing tasted overly earthy (though we have not graduated to including beets) and I felt great after drinking them I suspect because there is nothing besides vegetables and fruit added.  I’m excited about getting a significant bump to our vegetable intake without losing any aspect of the vegetable that would be beneficial.  Because the entire vegetable is being processed into the smoothie it does not make the caloric intake higher as when making juice from fruit.  Another benefit in my book.

Apple Lime & Leafy Greens Smoothie - BoulderLocavore.com

Great Starter Greens: Kale, Baby Spinach, Arugula, Lettuces, and/or Parsley paired with fruit (apple, banana, orange, grapes) and some freshly squeezed citrus juice produce a beautifully balanced smoothie without tasting densely ‘green’.  The combination possibilities are endless!

 

I was surprised that many of the greens we tried did not overpower the smoothie.  Though they are the holy grail of every nutrition chart, flavor-wise they play well with others.  It’s easy to change up the flavor and texture as well by adding frozen fruit to have a smoothie more like a milkshake consistency.  Fresh juice or coconut water can be substituted for spring water.  Any variety of milk (cow, soy, almond, rice, etc.) may also be swapped in. The only limitation I’ve decided is one’s imagination!

Bright Morning Apple Lime Leafy Green Smoothie

Yield: 1 smoothie

This starter smoothie is chock full of nutritional dark leafy greens but you'd never know it from the flavor. The addition of fresh lime juice and Granny Smith apple lend a sweet, bright flavor that is irresistible.

Ingredients

  • 10 red grapes
  • ½ cup baby spinach
  • ½ cup arugula
  • ½ cup parsley
  • 1 heaping cup kale leaves*
  • ½ granny smith apple
  • Juice one lime
  • 6 baby carrots
  • ½ cup filtered water

Instructions

  1. Put all the ingredients into a blender, pouring the water in last. Pulse blender until vegetables and fruits are broken down then run the blender until the mixture is fully liquified.

Notes

*if using a regular blender consider pre-chopping the kale leaves to achieve a smoother consistency smoothie.

http://boulderlocavore.com/2014/01/green-smoothies-a-beginners-journey.html

Photo of the leafy greens from iStock.

Comments

  1. Gina Muller says

    The vitamix has changed our “smoothie” lives. You truly can put anything in it: nuts, whole veggies, seeds, oils, etc. You know I travel daily with a green drink and I’m grateful for a new, thoughtful recipe. Happy New Year!

    • says

      You my friend are my role model on the ‘green drink’ front. Bravely sticking anything in your blender to sport with you on your endless drives daily schlepping kids. We are loving this new Vitamix and it really has changed everything (except how messy my house is). My co-pilot came up conceptually with two smoothies of his own, the one we’ve tried I will have to publish. It’s delicious and includes fresh ginger which is so good for you. We’re hooked. Enjoy the fading light of winter break!

  2. says

    Every year I think we will get on the smoothie band wagon. Maybe this year. We do not eat enough veggies either. Maybe drinking them would help.

    • says

      Isn’t there a saying about a new convert being the worst kind of zealot or something like that? I definitely am falling into that category Debra. Maybe because I was ready to be choking down these smoothies in the spirit of health and hating every minute but I really love them. With each sip of a new one I’m shocked at how NOT vegetable they taste. I’d never thought of kale as a friendly tasting vegetable. I really do feel great and hope my love of green smoothies won’t slip away soon!

  3. Karen Esslinger says

    Another healthy option, instead of water, use green tea – great benefits without added calories! You can also add hemp seeds, flax seed, chia seeds, wheat germ (although probably not for gluten free diets). On a side note, while kale is awesome in smoothies, first timers beware that a regular blender just doesn’t cut it. It tends to create more of a chunky smoothy, I’d just go with baby spinach.

    • says

      Thank you Karen for all your suggestions. We love Chia and Hemp seeds and I use them in many recipes too. I also thought about the kale in a regular blender and will amend the recipe to suggests pre-chopping. I intended to do a second run with the old blender as a test but frankly can’t stop playing with the Vitamix! Love the green tea option too; pure genius. I feel so good drinking these I just hate to use anything like juice or milk for the time being. The green tea would be great.

  4. says

    Welcome to the green smoothie world! :) I’m with you on eating calories instead of drinking them though! The photo of the leafy greens is just so beautiful.

  5. says

    I am completely with you with regards to smoothies vs. juices. I couldn’t stand looking at all of the healthy fibers being lost in the process! Not to mention the amount of calories it takes to fill one glass. This is gorgeous!!

    • says

      Admittedly I’m a newbie at this smoothie stuff Bev so probably not the best to ask. However my feeling is that the highest nutritional state is when the smoothies are first made with the freshest of ingredients. Though I’ve make smoothies before with frozen fruit to produce a more creamy, milkshake-like smoothie I am enjoying the thick fresh smoothie texture not using frozen ingredients. I realize you are suggesting making the smoothies, freezing them to then thaw them. I note over time they also separate so I’m unsure what the texture would be like if you made-froze-thawed them.

      I have seen people bagging all the ingredients for a given smoothie and freezing the bag then throwing it all in the blender with some liquid. My inclination would be to go that route I think.

  6. Jessica says

    Thank you for the recipe! I am also semi-new to the green smoothie craze. I like fruit smoothies, and I’ve ventured into adding spinach, which surprisingly doesn’t taste bad! I found this rainbow chard recipe that I am going to try along with yours later this week —

  7. says

    Toni I laughed out loud at this one “I quickly realized I probably could turn tree trunks into frothy delicacies with this baby”.

    I too have a VitaMix and I love it! I’ve had it for 5 years; it sits out on my kitchen counter and gets used frequently!

    • says

      They are pretty amazing. One night, like I was channeling and Infomercial, I made dinner all from the Vitamix cookbook: spicy pasta sauce, raspberry balsamic vinegar and grated Pecorino-Romano cheese. I truly seems to be the appliance that does everything!

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