Getting your recommended daily allowance of fruits (1/2 to 2 cups) and vegetables (2-1/2 to 3 cups) is no small feat—especially when you don't have a lot of extra time to prep and cook all that produce. That's one reason why smoothies have become a staple for many healthy eaters. They allow you to pack several servings of produce into one meal or snack that's portable, easy to make and quick to drink.
While most people are familiar with fruit, juice and yogurt-based smoothies, veggie-based smoothies (or "green smoothies") are quickly catching on among nutrition-conscious eaters.
Whether you're apprehensive about trying a smoothie with vegetables or you do it all the time, here's all you need to know to make a well-blended and delicious green smoothie no matter what your taste preferences may be.
Choose Your Greens Carefully
Not all greens are the same. Some, like arugula and watercress, are spicy. Others, like frisee and radicchio, are quite bitter. Kale and collards are tough (and need the stems to be removed), while spinach and chard are more tender. When selecting greens for your smoothie, choose "baby" varieties, which are usually less intense in flavor and softer in texture, as much as possible.
Go Green Gradually
If you've never tried a green smoothie or you're not a huge fan of greens, start with just 1/2 cup. The fruit in your smoothie should mask the taste of the greens. As you adjust to the taste and texture of your green smoothies, add more--working up to 2 cups of greens per smoothie (or more if you like it).
Masking the Green Color
For some people, the color of food matters, and green food can be particularly unappetizing. If you're not sure how you feel about slurping something green, add deeply colored blueberries, cherries, or blackberries to hide the color. This is also a great idea for parents who are trying to sneak some greens into their children's smoothies.
The Perfect Blend
Layer your smoothie ingredients in the ratios and order listed below for optimal texture (smooth, never chunky). If you don't have a high-power blender, you may need to blend after every layer or two rather than loading up everything at once.
Here is our basic formula for foolproof green smoothies:
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Our Favorite Green Smoothie Recipes
Are you ready to give green smoothies a try? Here's a list of our favorite flavor combinations. Note that the items listed are just suggestions. You can use soy milk or non-dairy milk in place of skim milk in a recipe, for example.
1 cup skim milk + 1 small banana + 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 Tbsp peanut butter + 2 cups spinach + 1/2 cup ice
1 cup drinkable strawberry yogurt + 1 small banana + 1 pinch powdered ginger + 1 scoop plain, berry or vanilla protein powder + 2 cups baby chard or kale + 1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup soy milk + 1 peeled kiwi + 1 scoop protein powder + 2 cups spinach + 1 cup frozen pineapple or mango
1 cup refrigerated coconut milk beverage + 1 mango + 1 pinch powdered ginger + 2 cups baby spinach or chard + 1 cup frozen pineapple + 1 tsp shredded coconut for garnish
1 cup skim milk + 1 small banana + 1 pinch cinnamon + 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (cherry flavor is delicious in this!) + 2 cups any greens + 1 cup frozen cherries
For more green smoothie recipes, click here.
Now that you know how to make the perfect green smoothie, there's nothing standing between you and your goal of eating more fruits and vegetables. Go forth and blend!
Are you a fan of green smoothies? Do you have a favorite green smoothie recipe?