Green Smoothies for Great Nutrition and Variety
Until recently, I thought smoothies were only for health food fringe faddists.
You know, people who talk about eating “clean” and going on “cleanses” – or who only eat raw foods.
I’ve had fruit smoothies in The Philippines and processed glop smoothies at an American fast food joint.
But I’ve preferred to eat my fruit whole.
Then I had a revelation.
The “green” in “green smoothies” came from leafy greens and other vegetables.
And, I’m ashamed to admit it, I’ve been neglecting my intake of leafy greens – even buying precut salads but not eating them.
I could not find a good-tasting, healthy and inexpensive salad dressing.
Oils are processed fat – NOT healthy. Olive oil may be marginally not as bad as your typical store-bought salad dressing, but it still weakens your blood vessels’ endothelial lining.
I must admit, I’m not able to just stuff leaves into my mouth and chew, as our ancestors must have done.
And smoothies? I knew some people made smoothies from vegetables, but that didn’t sound appetizing. I’ve heard them described as tasting like shredded grass.
Isn’t there something besides oil that can make leafy greens go down easy?
Yes, it turns out – fruit.
Use a blender to grind leafy greens and fruit up together, and you’ve got a great-tasting and enormously healthy snack/beverage/meal replacement.
There’re Ten Thousand Ways to Drink Your Veggies and Fruit Together
The proportion of vegetables to fruit can vary a lot. Smoothie enthusiasts recommend filling your blender with from 25% to 75% green leaves (or other vegetables, of course) and the rest with fruit.
Obviously, this varies by what you’re used to, the particular greens (some have stronger tastes than others) and how much you need the sugar in fruits to make the blended greens palatable.
Some warn against using too much fruit, because of the sugar, and that’s a good argument against eating all-fruit smoothies. Adding greens, however, does blunt any sugar spike with extra antioxidants.
Therefore, I suggest starting with a low percentage of greens to fruit, and increasing the amount of greens as you get used to drinking green smoothies.
You can also throw in flax, chia or hemp seeds. Spices. Protein powder. And superfoods of many kinds.
The US Department of Agriculture Recommends We Eat 5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Every Day
Most US adults eat only one serving of fruit and 1.5 servings of vegetables (and I bet most of that is potatoes and iceberg lettuce).
Only one in ten get the suggested 5 servings – and I’d bet many of them are lying.
In contrast, Australia’s government recommends people eat 8 servings per day.
The Benefits of Green Leafy Vegetables
Let’s put all the many vitamins and minerals you get from vegetables to the side. Too many people believe they can get those from pills while eating unhealthy processed foods.
And I won’t go over all the many benefits of fiber, though that too is incredibly important.
But green vegetables and fruits contain large amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Ounce for ounce, green leafies are the most concentrated source of nutrition you can eat.
We know they contain nutrients you can’t get anywhere else, such as Vitamin K1, lutein, folate and zeathanthin.
They also contain hundreds to thousands of phytonutrients science has yet to study.
Many of them may be unique to specific plants, which is another huge benefit of green smoothies:
You Can Eat a Large Variety of Vegetables, Fruits and Other Foods
I was eating the same kind of prepackaged salad every week. It contains nutritious veggies, but I was constantly eating the same ones.
And I have the habit of just eating a few certain fruits.
With smoothies, you can (and should) eat a large variety. There’s no way I would ever try to turn Swiss chard, kale, collard greens, bok choy, spinach and other greens into a salad. Or try to eat not only my usual fruits, but add apples, grapefruit, mangoes, pineapples, bananas, plums and others into my diet.
You don’t have to buy them fresh – grab plenty of frozen fruits. They’ll make your green smoothie nice and cold without using ice.
With a smoothie, it’s as easy as stuffing them into the container, then letting the blender do the work.
I can also throw in healthy foods that don’t really go with my usual foods, such as: turmeric, amla and ginger.
1. Buy a powerful blender: at least 800+ watts. I found some good blenders priced between $100-$200.
2. Sip it with a reusable straw. Smoothies can wear away the enamel of your teeth.
3. Don’t add grains or beans. Grinding them into tiny particles will spike your blood sugar.
4. Sip smoothies slowly, over half an hour or so. Gulping them down will also spike your blood sugar, and could cause you to consume more calories than you would when you have to chew your food.
5. Eating nothing but green smoothies may be good for a week or so – many have done that. But on a normal basis, continue to eat plenty of solid healthy foods as well, especially grains and beans – and solid vegetables and fruit.
6. Have containers with a screw-on lid, so you can take your smoothie with you, especially to work if you have refrigerator space.
7. Because they’re bland, bananas go with anything, adding a smooth texture and sweetness.
Myself, I plan to consume a green smoothie as one of my meals every day for life.
I’ll see you in the produce department.