I have always enjoyed fruit smoothies, but never considered adding greens and other veggies to up the ante. I have to admit that at first, it really didn’t sound too appealing. However, from the very first day that I added some fresh baby spinach to my banana, soy milk, and frozen strawberries, I was utterly hooked!
It tasted wonderful and I noticed the positive side effects immediately. They helped to reduce cravings for sweets and aided in my digestion and elimination. (Sorry to have to bring up that topic so quickly, but without healthy elimination of wastes, we are bound-literally speaking-to be unhealthy and unhappy).
Before I continue, I would like to note that I used to make most of my smoothies with soy milk. Nowadays, not so much. Because soy can interfere with the natural production of hormones, I found that too much soy decreased my libido. I do love my soy milk, but I love my libido even more! Not everyone has the same results, and I know that other women benefit from eating more soy. It depends on the individual.
Here are the benefits of drinking green smoothies:
– Green smoothies encourage healthy digestion and elimination.
– Cells in the fruits and vegetables are broken down by the act of liquefying, therefore your body assimilates the nutrients quickly.
– Green smoothies control cravings for sugar because the natural sugars found in veggies and fruits satisfy our need for sweet food. Also, our cravings for sweets are often a signal from our bodies that something is missing. Green smoothies fill that gap.
– Green smoothies are an easy and satisfying way to include leafy greens into our diets.
– Green smoothies hydrate our bodies, making it easier to get the liquids that we need daily.
– Green smoothies provide much needed fiber.
– Green smoothies help us to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
– Green smoothies provide enzymes from the raw fruits and vegetables. (These enzymes help us to digest our food).
– Green smoothies help to alkalize our blood pH. A high acidic pH leads to illness and disease, and drinking green smoothies neutralizes this acidic environment.
– Green smoothies provide chlorophyll, which cleanses and builds blood, among other things.
– Green smoothies are antioxidant rich, helping our bodies to fight free radicals and toxins in our environment.
– Green smoothies help to reduce inflammation.
– Green smoothies provide a way to include superfoods into our diets, if you are so inclined. Throw in some chia seeds, maca powder, gogi berries, aloe vera, hemp seeds, raw cacao, spirulina and blue-green algae. It’s a tasty and convenient way to include these power houses of nutrition.
Early on, I made my smoothies in a regular blender and kept it pretty basic-some fresh fruit (usually bananas), some leafy greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, romaine, dandelion greens, etc.), and frozen fruit. I also used avocado quite frequently. If it needed a little sweetener, I would use maple syrup, raw agave nectar, or raw honey (in very small amounts).
In the regular blender, I needed to add some liquid in order to sufficiently puree it. I would use organic whole milk, coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, yogurt, or clean water. (I have since lowered my intake of soy milk and soy products). Sometimes, I would add orange/pineapple juice and use fresh mango or pineapple for the fruit. For those tropical green smoothies, I would also use a little canned coconut milk. There is really no end to the combinations of fruits and veggies. Just make sure that you listen to your body, and if you experience discomfort, make some changes the next time around. Some combinations of fruits and veggies can cause gas or bloating in some people. If you find this to be true, keep your green smoothies simple while you figure out what works best for your body.
If you find that you’re no longer enjoying how they taste, or you find that you’re having a difficult time finishing them, try switching the greens and the fruit because your body may be craving variety or different nutrients. Also, keeping it simple for a few days may be what your body is asking for. I have also found that under-processing green smoothies make them less palatable. Make sure that you run your blender long enough to liquefy the fruits and veggies, and break down the tough fibers. If your smoothie is unappealing, try processing it longer and you may enjoy it so much more.
It is best if you drink them in the morning before you have eaten, or a long time after your last meal. For many people (self included), these do not sit well on a full stomach, as fruit always digests easier on an empty one.
Vary your fruits and veggies to get the full benefit of including different vitamins and minerals into your diet.
I want to note that some people cannot tolerate raw spinach or raw kale. (Those with liver or gall bladder issues, in particular.) Pay attention to your body’s signals. If it bothers you, use other vegetables.
Drink then slowly. Gobbling any food can cause digestive issues.
Include green smoothies frequently into your diet, and you will be so happy that you did. Try them for a month, and see how much better you feel.
This is how smoothies, in a regular blender, are made
Start with a leafy green vegetable. You want to stay away from the bitter ones, such as mustard greens and arugula. I use approximately two cups of greens, but you can begin with less until you get used to it a little.
Add a little bit of liquid – maybe a cup or so. Then blend until the greens liquefy.
Now add whatever sounds good to you- banana, any fresh fruit, some avocado, maybe some cucumber, a little parsley, and some frozen fruit (strawberries, pineapple, mangoes, blueberries, etc.). As a rule of thumb, try to use approximately 40% veggies and 60% fruits. This insures a tasty green smoothie.
Sweeten a little, only if needed. Nowadays, I don’t need to sweeten my green smoothies, but if you need to, go ahead and add a little to your taste.
I have since purchased a Vitamix and my green smoothies have reached a whole new level. I now use red beets, celery, carrots, cucumbers, apples with the skin, and any fruit or veggie that appeals to me. I don’t need to use a liquid unless I want to thin it down a little, or if I want it for the taste. (Frozen fruit can add a lot of thickness. The picture up above is one of my thick smoothies. Almost “milkshake” like.) This morning’s green smoothie was a very ripe banana, three large kale leaves, a small red beet, a lot of frozen strawberries, and a little spring water. It was actually a beautiful red smoothie! I have made green smoothies that were very busy with a lot of different vegetables, and I have made them simple, using only a few.
For a simple, easy green smoothie, just blend 2 cups of a leafy green with 2-3 cups of fruit. I always use some frozen fruit because it keeps it cold. Add a little liquid, as needed. (There are times when I prefer it to be that simple.)
If you want to use unfrozen fruit, adding a handful of ice cubes does the trick.
This is a “busy” green smoothie that I’ve made in my Vitamix:
Organic purple grapes, celery, cucumber with the skin, red beets, some greens from the beet tops, rainbow Swiss chard, parsley, slice of fresh ginger, slice of fresh lime (with the skin), and frozen strawberries. This was truly delicious-both pungent and sweet at the same time. A regular blender couldn’t handle all of this very well, but this gives you an idea of how creative you can get and how nourishing green smoothies can be.
For those who don’t know-a Vitamix is a very powerful blender that can liquefy most fruits and vegetables. They are expensive, but well worth the investment in your health. With a Vitamix, you can also grind your own flours, make your own nut butters, make frozen sorbets in less than 60 seconds, and cook soup right in the container. A worth while investment!
Adding green smoothies into my diet was one of the healthiest choices that I have ever made. My body craves them, and I find them to be delicious and extremely satisfying.