>> Monday, February 2, 2015
This post continues my series on improving favorite foods, like Baking Better Kale Chips and 10 Steps For Slow Cooker Perfection. Green smoothies have been a huge help to me with my latest EAT BETTER efforts. I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t like munching on salads, so sometimes the only way I get roughage in my diet is through a straw. Whatever works, right?
Sipping green smoothies on the regular is just another way of making healthy eating more automatic. So, if you are new to this way of drinking -- take note. And if you’re a veteran, I’d love to hear some of your favorite ways to make a perfect blend.
// Follow 60/40
I’ve tried to make almost 100% vegetable green smoothies in the past. And if you can drink them this way, more power to you. For the rest of us, a 60 (fruit) / 40 (veggie) ratio works out best. This way, the fruit dominates the overall flavor, yet you’re still getting a hefty dose of the greens you need.
I save the all veggie stuff for when I juice. (And here’s more on juicing, if you’re into that. I’d say we do it once or twice a month. It’s more expensive than smoothies and -- as healthy as it is -- it’s also really important to get all the fiber from the fruits and veggies that blending in a smoothie provides versus juicing.)
// Try Different Liquids, Etc.
Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of liquid bases for my smoothies. I always try to stick with unsweetened versions of anything I pour into the blender. My favorite right now is unsweetened coconut milk. You can also do almond milk, hemp milk, soy milk, and even plain water if you’re strapped. In addition, I often toss in yogurt -- plain or Greek -- for some extra creamy + tart goodness. You can totally change the taste and texture (and nutrition) with the liquid you choose, so be sure to experiment!
// Add Protein
If you like to drink green smoothies after you work out (like I do), adding protein is key to replenish your muscles. There are a number of ways you can add protein to a green smoothie and take its healthy qualities to a new level. Try tossing in a tablespoon or two of nut butter, a serving of Greek yogurt, some spirulina powder, or a scoop of your favorite protein powder. If you want to use a green smoothie as a meal replacement, try and add a few hardboiled eggs on the side or something small to get a more complete mini-meal.
// Blend Well
As much as I hate to spend tons of money, it does pay to invest in a quality blender if you want to drink green smoothies regularly. That doesn’t mean you need to drop bank on a Vitamix or Blendtec. Those are incredibly nice machines, but a Ninja Blender is worth the extra over standard blenders because it blends those greens smooth. I’ve used standard blenders and they will work on maybe spinach -- but if you like kale and other heartier greens, consider saving up. A blender with more than 800-1000 watts should do the trick.
Regardless of what machine you use, it’s helpful to first blend the fruit and liquid, then add the greens and keep pulsing until smooth. If you find your greens are too chunky and not incorporating well, try adding a bit more liquid (a couple tablespoons at a time), and that should help.
// Freeze Ingredients
I might be alone in this, but if most of my ingredients in the smoothie are fresh, I don’t love the texture. So, I’ve started freezing cubes of yogurt and milk to act like ice cubes (after all, ice cubes don’t add nutrition beyond hydration). Furthermore, I always use frozen bananas for the best, thick texture.
BONUS: You can take this concept a step beyond by making your smoothie in big batches and freezing it into cubes so all you need to do is pop a few out and thaw in a glass for quick weekday drinking.
We have a ton of smoothie recipes -- green and “normal” -- on this site. You can browse through a lot of the recipes right here, and some of the latest and greatest ones can be found over here.