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All About Green Smoothies

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Have you ever tried a green smoothie? The first time I saw a recipe for a "Green Monster" I was slightly skeptical, and a little worried about what it would taste like. Now that I've tried them, I'm totally hooked! There are so many options and varieties, it's an amazing way to get more fresh leafy greens into your diet, they're easy to make, and they make you feel fantastic!

Here's what you need to get started:
-A blender- that's where all the magic starts!
-Greens! I recommend starting with fresh spinach, you could also try kale or chard. I've seen recipes where lettuces and other greens like collards are included. but I haven't been adventurous enough to try that yet.
- Bananas. These are the backbone to my smoothies and provide wonderful texture and a little bit of sweetness. I started using fresh bananas but have transitioned into freezing them - wait until they're mostly ripe, peel them and cut them into a few pieces (I usually cut medium sized bananas into 3 pieces, put into a freezer bag and grab 3 pieces from the freezer to add to my smoothies as needed). Freezing them helps keep them longer (they will keep about a month in the freezer, after that they start to turn brown) and gives the smoothies a great thickness and creaminess.
- Fresh/frozen fruit ~ Depending on what I have around, I might use fresh or frozen. I like the texture of frozen berries, so I keep those on hand to add in. Fresh berries, pineapple, pear etc. are good options as well. From time to time I will use dried pitted chopped dates - these are very sweet and calorie dense though so a little goes a long way!
-The milk/liquid/water of your choice. I alternate between unsweetened almond milk and coconut milk, with a little water added from time to time. Some other options are: lowfat or skim milk, soymilk, coconut water.
-Nut butter ~ A little goes a long way with these as well. I've used almond butter and flavored peanut butter (PB & Co White Chocolate Wonderful and Dark Chocolate Dreams) one tablespoon should be enough. If you need to add more protein or calories to your smoothie (especially if you're using this in place of a meal) you could do up to 2 tablespoons, but if you're making it as a snack or a supplement to a meal- go easy on the nut butter!
- Plain yogurt - sometimes I add about a half a cup of plain Greek yogurt for extra tang and protein, you could use regular yogurt as well - just be careful with flavored varietes because they can add a lot of extra unnecessary sugar.
-Sweeteners/spices - When I use banana and fresh fruit, I don't add any sweeteners, but depending on your own personal taste, you may want to add a little bit of sweetener like stevia, honey, agave nectar to taste.
-Other add ins that you could use: Chia seeds (these thicken up in liquid and too much can make your smoothie almost turn into a pudding, so use caution), ground flax seed, protein powder.

The first Green Monster I made was based on a recipe from - here is what it called for:
-1 cup milk of your choice (I used almond milk)
-1-2 tbsp nut butter (I used PB & Co White Chocolate Wonderful)
- 1 ripe banana
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1-2 cups spinach (the more greens, the better! But you might want to start out with a cup or less until you really feel comfortable with it)

-Put everything but the spinach together in the blender and pulse a few times until mixed up. Work the spinach in a handful at a time until its basically liquefied and there are no more "chunks" of green.

I was a little concerned about how "spinachy" this might taste- it was wonderful! It tasted like a peanut butter banana smoothie, and it was love at first taste. Since then, I've been experimenting with different combinations of flavors of greens/fruits and here are some of the concoctions I've come up with:

The Greeña Banana Colada:
-1 cup Coconut Milk (I use Silk Vanilla Coconut Milk or So Delicious brand)
-1 cup frozen pineapple (you could use fresh as well, but stay away from the canned pineapple thats packed in heavy syrup!)
- 1 medium banana, preferably frozen
- 2 cups spinach or kale
- 2-4 ice cubes to taste (not necessary, but if you prefer it to be more frozen, add as you like!)

-This one has a nice banana flavor with a little tartness from the pineapple. The coconut milk has a mild flavor, so it didn't taste as much like a Piña Colada as I had hoped for, but its still really tasty!

The Greenzilla Vanilla Banana-Berry Protein Smoothie:
- 1 scoop Vanilla protein powder (I use Spirutein - I recommend staying away from Protein powders that include Sucralose, but that's just a personal preference)
- 1 cup milk or water (I use Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk)
- 1 medium frozen banana
- 1 cup frozen berries (mixed or all strawberries)
- 1-2 cups fresh spinach or kale
- 2-4 ice cubes (optional)

The "Green"nana Almond Date Shake:
- 1 cup milk/water (again I used almond milk)
- 1 medium frozen banana
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- 1/5-1/4 chopped dates (I used 1/4 cup and it was VERY sweet! I would probably use a little less next time)
- 1-2 cups fresh spinach or kale

The Mean Green Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:
- 1 cup milk/water (I use almond milk)
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (can be canned or fresh- just make sure if you use canned that its just pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix)
- 1 medium frozen banana
- 1-2 cups fresh spinach or kale (I made mine with kale)
- 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1 tsp Cinnamon (I use McCormick Roasted Saigon Cinnamon)
- Sweetener of your choice (I added a tbsp Xylitol, honey or agave would be good too)

You can always add water/ice cubes to any of these recipes if you're not happy with the consistency. If I add any, it's usually about a half cup of water (if I'm having trouble getting the greens mixed in sometimes I do this) or 2-3 ice cubes.

Do you make any fruit/veggie combo smoothies that you love? I'd love to hear about other recipes you like. Hope you like these as much as I do - for me its a great option for dinner when I get home from Zumba class and don't really feel like eating too much or cooking, a great way to start the day off instead of breakfast, or if I'm working a double I'll have a big breakfast and one of these for lunch to make sure I'm getting all my fruit/veggie servings and giving myself a little extra boost of energy for the day. Cheers!!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love spinach but never thought of putting it in my's a worth a try!!!
    2030 days ago
    Thanks for the suggestion. I haven't ever had one, but based on your recommendation I'm gonna add it to the menu. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks!
    2030 days ago
  • SUMMER1909
    will try
    2030 days ago
  • DMR023
    Wow thanks for all the feedback!

    Kyrria - I've tried the Naked Green Machine smoothie drink - I liked it but it was SO SO sweet - there's 29g of sugar in one serving (and theres 2 in the container). It's very good for a premade drink on the go but if you have time to make a green smoothie for yourself at home it is very nutritious and you can watch how much sugar you're adding.

    TIMEIICHANGE - I hope you love them like I do! It can look like a lot, but they're usually somewhere between 200-300 calories for the whole batch (if you add nut butter or protein powder they'll be higher in calories) if you're making it a snack I'd suggest about half of the recipe.

    GIANT-STEPS - I love kale, I even eat it raw in salads, so I guess I don't mind the flavor. I do tend to use spinach in my smoothies more than anything and I agree the flavor is very neutral. Have you tried stirring kale into soups or stews instead of spinach/other greens? It soaks up the broth and other seasonings and becomes more tender and a little more mild (in my opinion). Whenever I make kale by itself I always "braise" it in vegetable or chicken stock and let it cook down. 20 servings of fruits/veggie in a day is amazing- wow!!!

    MILLERGIRL- Hope you like them - let me know what you think!!

    2030 days ago
    I think I will try these this weekend. Thanks for all the recipes! I'm excited.
    2030 days ago
    I do a lot of smoothies. One thing though. I *HATE* kale! I've read about how healthy and low calorie Kale is so I really want to eat it but I haven't found a way to cook it so it isn't disgusting or any way to include non-trivial amounts in my smoothie without making it disgusting. Spinach tastes much better and when fresh and young is mild enough that I don't really taste it in smoothies. No dairy in mine. I'm convinced that dairy is evil. Mine are fruit and vegetables and little else. I like ground flax seeds for extra nutrition and if it isn't sweet enough I'll add some stevia or local honey. Haven't tried chia seeds but flax seeds make mine almost as thick as a pudding as well. Some days I'll have 3 smoothies and one regular meal and fit over 20 servings of fruit and vegetables in for the day.
    2030 days ago
    i think I will pick up some fresh spinach tonight and try a green smoothie for breakfast, these all make one serving?
    2030 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/1/2012 2:33:54 PM
    I'm lazy and usually just buy the "Green Machine" Naked brand drinks! They are super healthy & delicious. Thanks for sharing all these.. I'll have to try making one for once!
    2030 days ago
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