While drinking greens may seem a bit of an odd practice, it is actually an efficient and effective way to supercharge your diet with wholesome vitamins and nutrients.
Because you can pack so much goodness into a smoothie, you get a concentrated shot of nutrients that would otherwise take quite a while to eat.
So, are there tricks to making “salad in a glass” actually taste great? You bet there are and we are happy to share some of them with you so that your green smoothie experience can be the best ever!
Why Drink Your Greens?
If you are a fan of “fast” food and crave nutrients, a green smoothie is the sure way to go. A green smoothie is a quick and easy way to get all kinds of plant-powered goodness and provides the ultimate energy boost just when you need it most. In each green smoothie you will get fiber, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients that your body needs to function optimally. Liquid meals are super easy to digest and can easily be made gluten-free, soy-free or any other type of ‘free’.
Unpacking a Great Green Smoothie
Now, let’s get down to business. What exactly does it take to put together an amazing and nutritious green smoothie? Sure, you can just randomly chop and throw things into your blender, but for best results it is good to put a little forethought into this operation.
Liquids are the base of any great smoothie. The best choices for liquids for a green smoothie are coconut water or pure filtered water. You need just enough of either to make your smoothie the consistency you desire.
The heart of any green smoothie is, of course, the greens. Collard or kale greens are a popular choice and will keep well for a about three days in the refrigerator. Spinach and swiss chard area also good choices as well as a touch of parsley.
Dandelion greens are not usually recommended for first time “greenies” but are great to try once you are used to the smoothies. You can also experiment with different types of greens such as beet and lettuce.
Stock up when your grocer has a sale and consider freezing in plastic bags. You will need to wash, cut off woody stems and blanch for a couple of minutes before freezing.
Which Fruit is Best?
Adding some fruit to your green smoothie helps to balance out the bitterness of greens and lends to a creamy consistency. Frozen fruit such as bananas. peaches or mangoes are great choices for both flavor as well as texture. If you have some bananas that are overripe, just peel them, slice and place in large resealable bags or airtight containers in the freezer.
Think also about using seasonal fruit. This way you can grow your own or purchase local, organic fruit that can easily be frozen for future use. In the winter you can add apples, oranges, grapefruit or pears. Spring and summer fruit such as melons, peaches, grapes, berries and nectarines. All of these fruits help “cover” any strong taste that the greens offer.
You may not think of an avocado as a fruit but it is. It makes a great addition to any green smoothie. While it is not juicy or really sweet, it adds a creaminess to your smoothie that can’t be beat. The healthy fat also helps balance out the fruit sugar. A half of an avocado is all you really need to do the trick.
Don’t be shy, go ahead and add in other veggies to your fabulous green smoothie. Cucumbers, carrots and small bites of beets are great choices as they tend to blend and mix well with fruit. But, don’t stop there – just experiment and see what you can come up with.
There are a number of add-ins that you can blend in your green smoothie that are otherwise a little tricky to add to a healthy diet.
Hemp Seeds – Hemp seeds are one of the most nutrient dense foods on earth. They are a rich source and an ideal balance of omega-6, omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids. Hemp seeds are the only edible seeds that contain GLA, an essential fatty acid. They are also a highly nutritious source of protein, easily digested in their raw, natural state.
Chia Seeds – Chia seeds are truly super because they deliver a huge amount of nutritional benefit for very few calories. Rich in fiber, omega fatty acids, antioxidants, protein and calcium, these tiny seeds also create an interesting texture in smoothies.
Ground Flax Seeds – Adding just one tablespoon of flaxseed to your smoothie will deliver 1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids which is all you really need for the day, according to the MayoClinic.com.
Flaxseed is also a great source of protein with up to 2 grams per tablespoon. You will also get sinc, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and B vitamins. Make sure flax seed is ground first, since whole flaxseed will tend to go right through your system, without being digested.
Nuts – Along with reduced heart disease and cancer risk, nuts have a plethora of other healthy qualities. Regular consumption is associated with lower weight, lower blood pressure, less belly fat and less instances of metabolic syndrome. Be sure not to overdo it.
Ginger – This wonderful spice has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and offers anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antioxidant properties. It can even be used as an analgesic.
Ginger is also considered one of the best detoxifying herbs, frequently recommended in cleansing programs and detox diets. You just need a little shake (or a small amount of freshly grated ginger for a real punch).
Blackstrap Molasses – Although molasses will turn your smoothie dark you will get a good dose of iron and calcium in each serving.
Spirulina Powder – Don’t think about this as algae, but rather an incredibly nutritious offering from the sea. Spirulina is touted as a perfect food that could feed the world. It is a complete protein that contains approximately 60% protein by weight – that is about 3 times as much as ground meat.
Spirulina also contains Vitamin A (as beta-carotene), C and E, all of the B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and omega-3’s. Adding a teaspoon or two to your smoothie is a great way to capitalize on all of these amazing nutritional benefits
-The Alternative Daily