After some intense holiday feasting, I’ve armed myself with a blender and tons of fresh greens to help recuperate. If you’re like me and looking to easily add more greens into your diet, we’ve done our due diligence and researched the most healthy greens for smoothies.
In this article I’m covering different types of smoothie greens suitable for any diet, each with their own unique flavors and nutritional profiles.
- Benefits of Greens in Smoothies
- How to Find Healthy Greens for Smoothies
- 17 Healthy Greens for Smoothies
- Storage Best Practices
- How to Use Greens in Smoothies
Benefits of Greens in Smoothies
Sneaking greens into meals is nothing new. It’s a fantastic way to supplement your diet with extra nutrients without full-on tasting them. Our moms did it to us, and now we’re doing it to our kids; it’s the way of the world.
Green smoothies are a great way to incorporate leafy greens into your diet. They’re nutritious, can easily be customized to suit your preference, and can help you achieve your health goals.
The U.S. government recommends dietary guidelines for American adults consuming two and a half cups of a variety of vegetables per day, with leafy greens accounting for one and a half cups per week.
A green smoothie is typically composed of leafy greens such as kale or spinach, a creamy ingredient to improve the texture, and a sweetener, which could be the natural sweetness of a fully-ripened fruit or something like honey.
Something to smooth and fatten the texture, such as a green banana, tolerated yogurt, coconut milk, or even seed or nut butter. Fruit brings natural flavor and sweetness to the dish.
These leafy greens are high in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins A, C, and K, folate (B9), potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron. They’re also packed with antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative stress in the body and protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.
It contains beta carotene and lutein, which promote good eye health and may prevent macular degeneration.
Lastly, leafy greens are a good source of dietary fiber. They are low in calories and can help with weight management when added to any meal. They’re best consumed raw, such as in green smoothies, though you can easily sautee or bake most of them.
But I do want to issue a quick warning: excessive consumption of cruciferous vegetables can cause constipation and stomach irritation. These greens can increase the risk of kidney stones and iodine deficiency due to the presence of oxalates and goitrogens (a substance that inhibits the synthesis of thyroid syndrome).
In fact, most greens are high in oxalates, which can be tough on your kidneys. You can degrade oxalates by drinking lots of water and minimizing the sodium and sugar content of your smoothie.
Leafy greens and some cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) commonly used in smoothies have also been found to contain high levels of thallium (in the soil), a toxic heavy metal produced by smelting and coal combustion.
They also contain compounds known as glucosinolates, which contain sulfur and have the ability to inhibit iodine uptake by the thyroid, thereby reducing thyroid hormone production.
This could be especially dangerous for people suffering from iodine deficiency or thyroid disorders, which is unfortunately common amongst those with autoimmune issues. Cooking your vegetables instead of drinking them is a simple solution.
How to Find Healthy Greens for Smoothies
Any doctor will recommend you include a wide variety of leafy greens in your diet. Look for peppery arugula or watercress, deep green bok choy, crisp romaine lettuce, and mustard, kale, and collard greens that can be cooked.
You can get them at any grocery store or farmer’s market in your area. Choose high-quality greens that are locally and sustainably grown, and organic. Knowing where your vegetables come from is important, so you can be sure they haven’t been treated with pesticides.
There are a handful of specialty shops online who can bring good-quality produce to your doorstep.
If you’re feeling really determined to seek out the best greens, why not start a small garden and grow your own vegetables? You can buy organic, FDA-approved seeds from these stores.
17 Healthy Greens for Smoothies
Making a vegetable smoothie that actually tastes good requires some thought. You wouldn’t want to randomly whip up greens and other flavors because they can undoubtedly taste like, well, grass.
As previously stated, a good green smoothie includes leafy greens, something to add a creamy texture, and flavor – usually a sweetener. Smoothies can contain both raw and frozen leafy greens.
When you start your smoothie greens journey, it’s important to remember that a good rotation of greens and fruits is ideal, because too much of anything isn’t good. As with everything that we eat, consume leafy greens in moderation. You may be wondering what greens to add to smoothies? We’ve compiled over a dozen options for you to try.
Kale, also known as leaf cabbage, is a cabbage cultivar and cruciferous vegetable family member grown for its edible leaves. This cool-season vegetable is simple to locate at farmers markets and reputable greengrocers and vegetable stores, however it can be a little more challenging in the summer.
Kale tends to be bitter with an earthy, nutty, peppery flavor when eaten raw. It’s extremely popular in smoothies, but the bitter taste can be somewhat off-putting. It should be blended with ripe fruits like mangoes and peaches, citrus-y or tart flavors like plums and green apples or natural sweeteners like medjool dates or honey to mask the bitter taste.
When using kale in smoothies, properly wash each leaf and snip off the stems. The stems should be saved for your compost pile because they’re just too tough and fibrous to enjoy, even with a heavy duty blender like a Vitamix.
Like other good brassicas, kale is nutrient-dense. Rich in vitamins A, B6, C, and K calcium, potassium, copper, iron, fiber, and manganese, it is low in calories and high in heart-healthy flavonoids. These flavonoids are a type of antioxidant, highly anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic compounds.
Collard greens are part of the brassica family of vegetables, which also includes kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. This leafy green vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals and easily counts as a superfood.
Kale is a fantastic source of calcium, folate, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, B2, B6, C, and K. The deep green leaves also contain thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and choline. Kale is great for healthy bones, blood sugar levels, digestive system, heart, and sleep.
You can eat them either raw or cooked. However, it is better to only utilize younger leaves when adding greens to smoothies, because they are tastier when consumed raw. While still bitter, collard greens are not quite as strongly bitter as kale.
Collard greens can also be used in smoothies, but they should be paired with sweet fruits and other flavor boosters that disguise the bitter taste. Having a good balance of collard greens and fruit in the smoothie ensures that you won’t taste the bitterness at all, but you still get all of the good stuff.
Like with all of our other greens, we should clean our collard greens properly. To do so, cut the roots off, submerge the greens in a bowl of cold water and swirl them around so that the grit is removed. Drain them properly, then use as desired.
Swiss chard is a leafy, dark green vegetable with broad, fan-shaped leaves that have a rough texture. It’s a nutritious vegetable, low in calories while still packing a vitamin and mineral punch.
Chard leaves can taste a little bitter when eaten raw, but not as bitter as kale. Young chard leaves have a moderate flavor and a lemony aftertaste. Although the stalks are edible as well, the leaves are frequently detached from the stalks, especially in smoothies because they can contribute to the bitterness.
Smoothies can also contain swiss chard but they should be combined with sweet fruits and other flavor enhancers to improve the bitter taste. Tropical fruits pair well with swiss chard, like guava, mango, coconut, and lychee.
In addition to being a strong source of protein, calcium, iron, fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, manganese, and copper, swiss chard also contains high levels of vitamins A, C, and K.
These nutrients have powerful anti-inflammatory qualities, contributing significantly to decreasing blood pressure, normal organ development and maintenance, including the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Arugula isn’t just awesome in salads or sandwiches; it also makes for great smoothie greens. While this leafy green is not as popular as spinach or kale or other greens in smoothies, It’s packed with healthy vitamins and nutrients that your body will love.
There are many vitamins and nutrients in it, among them calcium, potassium, folate, and vitamin C. Arugula is also rich in antioxidants, which are substances that help prevent or reverse cell damage and may save you from some malignancies.
The flavor of arugula is peppery, hot, and slightly tart; it’s robust, spicy, and mustardy, yet not unduly bitter. Arugula’s spicy, peppery flavor will offer your smoothie an unusual edge in addition to its health benefits.
To offset its pungency and powerful flavor, we advise mixing it with tropical fruits or a sweetener of your choosing. To create a wonderful, velvety drink, combine tropical flavors like creamy coconut, juicy mango, and guava in your smoothie recipe.
An ingredient that is frequently used in East Asian cuisines is bok choy. If you’ve never tried it, bok choy is a member of the Brassica family, and resembles mustard greens. It also goes by the names pok choi, pak choy, or pak choi. It tastes like mild male mixed with cabbage and has a crunchy texture.
The stems are juicy and watery, but the green sections are bitter. Bok choy pairs nicely with citrus flavors, so when developing a recipe for it, strive for a creamy, sweet-tart beverage. Combining bok choy with tolerated tart fruits like lime, lemons, plums, and green apples, dairy (or a non-dairy sub), and natural sweetener like agave nectar or honey.
It is a good source of phytonutrients, flavonoids, vitamins A, B6, C, and K, as well as essential minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Bok choy also has cancer fighting properties, and may contribute to good eye, bone, and heart health.
Did you know that beet greens or beet tops are actually edible? They can add extra flavor and nutrition to your dishes, and reduce your food waste by using your beet greens in smoothies. Beet greens are often the best smoothie greens to introduce to newbies.
They have a mild, unobtrusive flavor compared to other more assertive or bitter-tasting greens. They’re surprisingly sweet and are arguably the most delicious of all the greens on this list.
One pitfall is that you would have to purchase more beets than necessary in order to get a good amount of greens for a smoothie. One of the beet’s most nutrient-dense components is actually the greens. Beet greens are rich in nutrients, including fiber, magnesium, copper, manganese, iron, potassium, vitamins A, B6, C, and K, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
These greens are low in calories and cholesterol and also have a lot of cancer-preventing antioxidants. In addition to having a milder flavor than other leafy greens, beet greens are also more delicate and have the same earthy flavor as beets.
Since the greens have a mild and sweet flavor, blending them with sweet and sour berries and a tolerated creamer will make a fantastic drink. You may also try other fruits as flavoring, such as apricots or apples.
The red and green leaves that sprout from a dandelion plant’s hollow stem are known as dandelion greens. They’re an under-appreciated leafy green, because not many people have tried them. They’re even completely safe and delicious to eat raw.
They taste earthy and agreeably bitter; greens from dandelion plants are a hidden nutritional gem. The stems don’t even need to be removed before cooking, as they’re not very fibrous.
Dandelion greens are a fantastic source of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, with a significant amount of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The greens help cleanse the liver and kidneys, act as a natural diuretic, and reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
However, dandelion greens have a stronger taste compared to spinach or kale. This is really not a problem if you are a vegetable person, but if you’re not fond of eating greens, then mask the flavor with sweet fruits like nectarines or peaches and use natural sweeteners.
Blended all together, a fistful of dandelion greens can turn your smoothie into a delicious and refreshing beverage, with a thick and creamy texture from any fruit and dairy (or dairy substitute).
Parsley is a mild and adaptable herb that lends a fresh, herbal flavor to a variety of meals. Additionally, it gives smoothies a delicious nutritional boost, and is often used as a garnish.
The flavor of parsley is fresh, spicy, and slightly earthy. When used in smoothies, the flavor is unique and unmistakable.
Use fruits like green bananas, apples, and mangoes to help hide the slight vegetal flavor of fresh parsley in a smoothie. Try mixing them with these flavor combinations: blueberries and lemon, carrots and ginger, or grapefruit and basil, and then add your choice of dairy or dairy substitute.
The numerous cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals included in parsley can have a positive impact on our health. Lately there’s also been increased interest in drinking parsley tea due to the numerous health benefits.
Vitamin K, a crucial fat-soluble vitamin involved in blood clotting, is particularly abundant in parsley. A half cup serving of parsley provides more than of the recommended daily intake of vitamins A, C, and K, so I’d consider that a win.
While cilantro is a prominent feature in many Asian and Mexican dishes, it’s also another great herb to mix into your smoothies for a refreshingly different taste. Cilantro doesn’t last very long, however, so use it up as soon as you can.
Cilantro is an herb made up of the fresh leaves of the coriander plant, which is a member of the parsley family. The soft green serrated cilantro leaves and stems can both be eaten, or added to a smoothie.
It has a strong, spicy, citrusy aroma. Fresh cilantro has a lemony, peppery, and pungent flavor, and some people say it tastes like soap because of the natural aldehyde chemicals in the leaves (I am, unfortunately, one of those people). Adding it into your smoothies will give off that same lemony, herby taste.
When thinking of a combination for it, channel tropical vibes and try it with guava or mango and coconut milk, or go for sweet and tart with berries or kiwi. One notable advantage of cilantro is that it aids in settling bloating or upset stomachs due to the release of digestive enzymes, which are required for proper food breakdown and absorption.
Cilantro also aids in the development of healthy skin and hair, the lowering of blood sugar levels, protecting against oxidative stress, and the prevention of heart disease and diabetes.
Try basil if you want to add a warming flavor to your green smoothies. Basil is popularly known as the signature ingredient in pesto, but it also works well in many other recipes, including cocktails, where it lends an aromatic sweet and savory flavor.
Basil has some of the freshness of mint, some of the pepperiness of parsley and black pepper, and even some of the citrus elements of cilantro, all wrapped up in a touch of sweetness and hints of anise. A simple smoothie will be elevated by the addition of basil when paired with fruits like mango, peach, blueberry, or cherry.
The herb contains many essential vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamins A and K, Calcium, Zinc, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, and Manganese. It’s also loaded with antioxidants that promote good mental and heart health, and has antibacterial properties.
On top of that, basil is known to help your kidneys, which are responsible for removing waste and toxins from your bloodstream. The best part is that basil is simple to grow at home, whether you plant it in your garden or buy a small basil plant to keep on your kitchen counter.
Wheatgrass is the young green leaves of the wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It has a grassy, mildly sweet and bitter, but generally neutral taste compared to leafy greens or fresh herbs.
Typically consumed as an everyday health tonic, wheatgrass can be in juice or powdered form. This “living food” may have some specific health benefits, too.
It contains a lot of highly-functional nutritive components that help keep up overall healt. Wheatgrass includes enzymes that help your body break down food and absorb nutrients, chlorophyll to detoxify your body, and has antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
It can be added to your smoothies in either form, but the latter will improve the texture of your beverage. Since it has a mild taste, wheatgrass goes well with any kind of fruit and milk to make a delicious green smoothie.
Try an apple, carrot, and ginger wheatgrass green smoothie or blueberry, mint, and wheatgrass smoothie. Likewise, to boost your nutrient intake, you can pair this mild-tasting leaf with other leafy greens like kale or collard greens.
Like wheatgrass, barley grass can be used in your daily green super smoothie. Barley grass is harvested from the young leaves of the barley plant. The flavor is earthy, green, and milder than wheatgrass, so it may be preferable for those with a sensitive palate.
The crop dates all the way back to 5,000 BC, and was used by many ancient civilizations like the Greeks, Egyptians, and Babylonians for its powerful health benefits. It is high in vitamins and minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants, which help your body fight off free radicals.
Barley grass in smoothies has been shown to strengthen the immune system, detoxify the body, improve digestion, aid in the healing of injuries, wounds, and burns, promote healthy hair, skin, and nails, increase energy levels, and improve overall health.
It contains chlorophyll and is high in arginine, so it’s similar to eating dark green leafy vegetables. Although fresh barley grass can be tricky to find, its powder form is easily available in health food stores. Fresh barley grass can be blended using a power blender, or the more soluble powder forms can easily be incorporated into your smoothies.
Red lettuce is a leafy vegetable in the Asteraceae (daisy) family. Its leaves are loose and semi-frilled, and it adds a splash of color to your favorite smoothie or salad.
This vegetable has a plethora of health benefits, too. Less than 100 grams of red leaf lettuce can fulfill the daily requirement of vitamins A and K. It promotes good eye, heart, bone, and reproductive system health, as well as fighting cancer-related free radicals and lowering blood pressure.
Red leaf lettuce has a bitter-sweet smell, with a natural, mildly sweet, semi-bitter flavor with a hint of nutty earthiness. Since it adds a beautiful red color to smoothies, we recommend pairing it with reddish orange fruits and vegetables like pomegranate, raspberry, currants, carrot, and beets.
If you’re looking for a yummy yet nutritious change of pace, give this redleafy green a try!
Microgreens are edible greens that are grown from the seeds of vegetables, herbs, or other plants, rather than as sprouts. These immature greens are sprigs just one to two inches long, with the stem and leaves still attached.
They have up to 40 times the amount of nutritious antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals than their mature counterparts, including vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as beta-carotene. Because they are harvested at their nutritional peak, they retain very potent nutritional value.
Microgreens also provide more of “nature’s greatest healer,” chlorophyll, than most other leafy greens. This all-around veggie powerhouse contains a trove of heart-healthy and potentially cancer-preventing and bone-building benefits, boosting your green smoothie.
There’s a huge variety of microgreens available in the market, all with different flavors. The important thing to note is that they have more potent nutritional content and taste than their mature counterparts, and are usually eaten raw.
Blending them up in your smoothies is a great way of eating a handful at once and soaking up all the goodness. If you’re using cilantro microgreens, pair them with citrus fruits, while broccoli microgreens’ strong taste can be masked with sweet apples.
*Spinach (NOT Low Histamine)*
Spinach is chock full of health benefits; it’s low in carbs, high in fiber, and nutrients but be aware that it is also high in histamine. So even though it’s common and a relatively cheap vegetable, it comes with a warning label.
Spinach is a popular leafy green vegetable ]used in a variety of dishes ranging from smoothies to salads to hot dinner recipes. This annual crop is grown for its edible leaves, which come in both mature, microgreens, and baby forms.
In your smoothie, include at least one or two handfuls of raw spinach. It has a mild, slightly bittersweet flavor. \Blend in some fruits, plain Greek yogurt, a splash of milk or juice, your favorite nuts or seeds, and a natural sweetener.
Like many leafy greens in smoothies, the outcome of your beverage will be green, so it’s best to add complementing color and flavor. We think it’s better to drink something pleasantly green rather than off-puttingly brown, but berries go great with spinach – think blueberries and blueberries.
Not many people know that you can use carrot greens in recipes just like beet greens. There are only a handful of recipes using carrot greens, but these mild-tasting smoothie greens are extremely good for you.
Carrot tops or fronds, also known as carrot greens, are the leaves attached to the tops of \carrots. Instead of chucking them, you can chop them off and use them to change up your green smoothie rotation.
They’re edible, versatile, and delicious. Carrot greens have an earthy, slightly bitter, slightly sweet, and peppery flavor that is reminiscent of herbs. Younger carrot greens are milder than older carrot greens, so the fresher the better.
They’re usually made into pesto or chimichurri, sautéed like any leafy greens, or pulsed into creamy dips, all after a thorough cleaning. In smoothies, they can go well with carrot-based drinks like a carrot and apple, carrot and orange, or carrot and ginger smoothie.
Carrot greens, like the other smoothie greens on this list, have a high mineral and vitamin content, but there has been little research on their health benefits. They are high in antioxidants as well as essential nutrients such as vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, and phytonutrients.
If you’re looking to add a refreshing herb flavor to your next green smoothie, try stinging nettle. Nettles need to be thoroughly cleaned before adding them into your smoothie, but they pack a real antihistamine punch.
Stinging nettle, also called common nettle, is a weedy perennial herbaceous plant of the nettle family. Known for its stinging leaves, the plant is common in herbal medicine and often made into a tea. The young leaves can be cooked and eaten as a nutritious potherb, but are also fine eaten raw.
Nettle is a natural cleanser for our bodies. It is a powerful blood purifier that removes toxins from the body, and has numerous skin and hair benefits. It’s also high in vitamins A, B2, C, and K, as well as iron, magnesium, and antioxidants.
It has antibacterial, antifungal, astringent, and anti-inflammation properties. When nettle plants flower, they become fibrous, so choose young, bright green plants. Those that are smaller and younger are sweeter and more tender.
You can purchase fresh greens for smoothies at most grocery stores, in farmer’s markets, or from online grocers that deliver to your doorstep. When buying fresh, always look out for vibrant, deep green leaves.
Storage Best Practices
Once you’ve acquired your greens, prep and store them properly as soon as you arrive. Leafy greens like lettuce, Swiss chard spinach, kale, or dandelion greens are best kept inside a loosely closed bag or sealed glass container, uncrowded after being washed and completely dried.
Here are the steps to take to wash and prep your notoriously perishable leafy greens for drying and keeping in the fridge to last at least five days up to a week:
- Remove all packaging items like a plastic wrap, tape, twist tie, rubber band, string that was used to bundle your greens.
- Separate the stems from the leaves. You may cut the leaves from the stems and set the latter aside because though tough and somewhat bitter, many stems are edible.
- Once you’ve removed all the stems, the next step is to wash your produce well. Wash them under running water. A good wash not only cleans your leafy greens but refreshes the leaves to help maintain their crispness. Alternatively, you can soak them in a water bath for 5-10 minutes moving them around with your hands to remove the dirt and soil.
- Once you’re done washing them, allow the leaves to dry completely. You can air dry them on paper towels on a baking tray to separate the water droplets from the greens, or wring them using a kitchen towel to absorb the moisture. Likewise, you may also use a salad spinner to do this step faster.
The most important consideration when it comes to storing your leafy greens is drying them. This step takes a long time as leaving them completely dry before placing them in the fridge is crucial to preserving them.
Air-drying your Leafy Greens
The most time-consuming method for drying your leafy greens is to spread them out on a sheet pan with a kitchen towel or paper towels. To ensure that the water does not pool and that the greens dry evenly, toss the greens every now and then.
If you don’t have a spinner and have plenty of time, this method is ideal. If not, we believe the spinner is a better option.
Wringing your Greens using a Towel
Place your leafy greens in an even layer on a clean organic cloth towel. Allow some space around the towel’s edges. Roll the towel like a burrito, then bend the center and bring the edges together from end to end. The next step is to vigorously shake the towel. However, water will be dispersed from the towel, so shake it on top of the sink.
This method is somewhat limited, however, because the greens in the middle portion do not dry as quickly as those wrapped in a towel. Still, try a few of the methods and find out which one works best for your and your lifestyle or standards.
Using a Salad Spinner
In our opinion, the best way to clean and dry leafy greens is to use a salad spinner. If you have one on hand, use it because it is quick and efficient. It saves your precious time and uses water efficiently while quickly drying your leafy produce.
Storing your greens in the fridge will allow for a longer shelf-life especially if you’re only making a single serve at a time. Here are some ways you can store your produce in the fridge after you’re done washing and drying them, and this until you’re ready to use them:
A Leafy Bouquet in Glass with Water
To store greens in the fridge that you’re planning to use right away, place them stem-down in a glass halfway filled with water as you would arrange flowers in a vase. Think of this leafy bouquet as a simple irrigation system to preserve your leaf greens. The water will give moisture to the leaves by providing hydration through the stems.
Wrapped in Tea or Kitchen Towels in a Glass Container
Wrap in a tea towel or paper towel. Don’t pack the greens tightly because they need some room to breathe (not literally, of course) to avoid rotting faster. Once wrapped, place it in a glass container or crisper in the cooler part of the fridge (usually away from the door).
Using Reusable Storage Bags
Another option is to place your greens in reusable food storage bags like Ziploc or French terry cloth bags. Make sure they’re absolutely dry. The greens should be packed loosely in the bags and it’s ideal to place a kitchen towel in there to help absorb moisture. Like our first option, kee them in the back part of your fridge.
Freeze your Leafy Greens
The last option would be to freeze your greens. If you’re planning on making your smoothies throughout the months when your produce won’t be available, this would be the best way to store those precious greens. Other than smoothies, you can also use these frozen greens for soups and stews but never try them with raw outputs like salads and sandwiches.
Freezing your greens locks in the freshness and flavor. Freeze your greens up to a month by doing these simple steps:
- Blanch the greens in boiling water, one by one.
- Boil for no more than 30 seconds at a time, then shock them in an ice bath (this shocks your leafy greens and keeps them from wilting).
- Pat them lightly with a towel.
- Completely dry the greens using one of the methods mentioned above.
- Roll them into a ball and wrap in beeswax wrap.
- Place them in the freezer for a few minutes. This allows your greens to form so that you can store them much more efficiently.
- Once frozen, transfer them to a reusable food storage bag and store in the freezer until ready to use in your smoothies.
How to Use Greens in Smoothies
Including plenty of greens in your diet is one of the most effective ways to increase your energy while also providing your body with nourishing plant compounds that can do amazing things for your health. There are a ton of “green” superfoods available in the market that provide far more benefits than what’s on your salad plate.
Gorgeous smoothies are the perfect way to get your and your family’s leafy greens and fruits in for the day. We try to vary the greens we use for aesthetic reasons but also because of flavor and digestibility. If it doesn’t look good, the children will automatically assume it won’t taste good.
Not all leafy greens have the same flavor. Some are mildly bitter, while others are extremely bitter. When we started making smoothies, we noted what tasted well and complemented one another. We also listed family favorites and which ones were completely overwhelming.
More importantly, all of the ingredients, particularly the leafy greens, should blend in with the rest of the drink. There’s always that risk of smoothies tasting downright awful if not blended with the proper ingredients. Here are some tips to making really good green smoothies.
- Follow a recipe or remember these rules when concocting your own – 60% fruit and 40% leafy greens or 1 cup leafy greens, 1 cup milk or dairy substitute and 1.5 cups fresh or frozen fruit. Add a sweetener to taste.
- Too much of a certain leafy green can overpower the taste of your smoothie, making it anything but appetizing. So use a handful (think a cup) for a single serve. Try any one of the 17 greens we mentioned above or a combination of mild tasting and sharper tasting greens.
- Making use of the stems is good for you and the environment (less waste!). Include no more than a half cup of them in your green smoothie.
- Keep it simple but varied, a few kinds of leafy greens (remember, nothing more than a cup of combined greens for a single serve), a dominant flavoring from fresh fruits, juice, or natural sweeteners, and an ingredient that provides a creamy, velvety texture to your smoothie.
- Improve the flavor and color by adding fresh or frozen fruits to your cold beverage. Fruits are naturally sweet and contain a ton of nutrients that are also good for you. It also makes your smoothie aesthetically pleasing, think a reddish beverage if you’re using strawberries or purple with blueberries.
- When you want an instant chilled beverage, freeze your fruits ahead of time.
- Lemon is a kind of fruit that goes well with other fleshy, juicy fruits. It brightens up the flavors and balances the sweetness of the fruits as well as helps to cut through the bitterness or grassy undertones of your leafy greens. Feel free to use this ingredient by starting with a teaspoon then increasing it up to a tablespoon max in your smoothies as it also lends a distinct taste.
- Get a good blender because your smoothie should be as smooth as the name suggests. You wouldn’t want unchopped up bits of leafy greens in your cold beverage. Trust us, its not gonna go through “smoothly”
- Your liquid of choice is an important addition for flavor and texture. Liquids sans fruits generally work well with very mild tasting. Add a sweetener of choice to improve flavor. Juice and coconut water will help give your smoothies a more balanced flavor, while lemon milk or any non-dairy substitute will offer more of a dessert-like flavor.
- Use natural sweeteners instead of artificial sweeteners. Try maple syrup, honey, stevia, agave nectar, Medjool dates, or Yacon syrup in lieu of sugar.
- Add spices for flavor, balance, and health benefits. Some notable ones to try are paprika, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spices also help cut the bitterness of some of the more bitter tasting greens.
- You can also add protein powders for added flavor and doses of protein.
- Mask the flavor of your greens with some great tasting nut or seed butters. They add nutrients and a rich texture too.
- Boost your smoothies with these superfoods – chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, spirulina, or acai powder.
Green smoothies are ideal for a homemade healthy snack, a quick “fast-food” meal, or even a refreshing drink on a hot day. Blended drinks of fresh fruits and dark leafy greens don’t just lift our spirits but provide us with energy and a whole host of healthy side effects.
There are many ways to enjoy leafy greens. If you’re looking to incorporate into your diet, consider some of these notes and recipes that made it to our regular smoothie rotation: