The Ultimate Guide to Making Green Smoothies
Smoothies are great for a quick and easy breakfast, but there are a few tricks to making green smoothies both healthy and delicious. Don’t miss this Ultimate Guide to Making Green Smoothies including which ingredients to use, how to pick the best blender, plus a recipe for a basic green smoothie.
Ask any person into wellness what is the best way to get a bunch of fruit and veggies into your system, and he or she will suggest a green smoothie. Green smoothies are a great way to pack a meal full of nutrient-dense foods, especially for picky eaters who struggle to eat enough produce.
What are Green Smoothies?
While most smoothies contain at least one serving of fruit, green smoothies also have the addition of some kind of green leafy vegetable. The most commonly used leafy greens in green smoothies include spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, or mixed greens.
You might automatically assume that something green is good for you, but the healthfulness of smoothies can be debated. It is important to remember that everyone is an individual, and smoothies may work for some and not for others.
Let’s review both the benefits and risks of drinking green smoothies.
Benefits of Green Smoothies
1. Increased vegetable intake
Most people don’t get enough fruits or vegetables in their diets. If you’re not used to eating vegetables, they can taste bitter. And, a lot of people have texture aversions to eating fresh fruits.
A smoothie is a great way to increase your intake of both fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. You can pack a lot of of veggies into a small smoothie and chances are you won’t taste them, especially if you also blend frozen fruit with the greens.
2. Easily absorbed nutrients
Pureeing your veggies in a blender can help break down the fiber and cellulose to make them more easily digestible. This means more bioavailable nutrients, so you get more out of what you’re eating.
And, if you include healthy fats in your smoothie like avocado, coconut, and nuts or seeds, then you’ll absorb even more of the nutrition from the fruits and vegetables that you’ve included in your smoothie.
3. Hidden veggies for picky eaters
Get your kids into the habit of consuming smoothies. You can toss in a bunch of greens and veggies and they won’t object to the taste since it’s masked by the fruit. Smoothies are also great for picky eaters or supertasters who are especially sensitive to any bitterness or strong flavors of whole vegetables.
Cons of green smoothies
1. Can be tough on digestion
Consuming cold foods and beverages, especially raw vegetables, can cause bloating and discomfort. Cooking veggies breaks down some of the fiber, as does blending. If you are having digestive trouble but you want to drink a green smoothie, try steaming your veggies before blending.
It’s also wise to eat, not drink, your smoothies. Chewing signals the release of digestive enzymes and stomach acid which is important as carbohydrate digestion begins with salivary amylase. Consider your smoothie a full meal, and slowly chew each bite.
2. Blood sugar dysregulation
For some people, the large amount of carbohydrates in smoothies may cause a spike in blood sugar. The fiber is disrupted during blending, which makes smoothies slightly easier to digest, but also increases the chance your blood sugar will spike.
Avoid smoothies full of fruit and instead focus on including low-glycemic berries, greens, and veggies such as frozen cauliflower (see this recipe for Peanut Butter Cauliflower Smoothie). Be sure your smoothie has plenty of protein and fat, too.
3. Caloric Intake
Because smoothies are a blended concoction, it can be harder to tell how many calories you’re consuming. A smoothie consisting of just veggies and nut milk will likely be too low in calories, while a smoothie containing multiple tablespoons of nut butter, coconut milk, and fruit may contain too many calories.
When making your smoothie, consider: could I sit down and reasonably eat all of this as a regular meal? If the answer is no, cut back your portions a bit.
4. Oxalate Poisoning & Goitrogens
Certain veggies and fruits (like raw leafy greens and berries) are higher in oxalates and goitrogens, which can cause problems for certain people if overaccumulated. To get around this potential issue, always rotate your greens and vegetables and try steaming greens or veggies that are higher in goitrogens.
Best Smoothie Blenders
When choosing the best blender for a green smoothie, you have quite a few options. Choosing the best blender depends on what you will be using it for and also what your price range is.
Here are the four main types of smoothie blenders for you to consider.
- An immersion blender is also known as a hand blender or stick blender. They’re small handheld motors that blend food directly in a container. Popular for pureed soups, they can also be used for smoothies! Be sure your container is deep to avoid splashback.
- Price range: $30-$99+
- From low-high: Koios, Cuisinart, All-Clad
- Also known as smoothie blenders, single-serve blenders are perfect if you only make smoothies occasionally, or if you only need a blender for smoothies. They can be pretty powerful, and some even transform into a drink bottle for quick and easy breakfasts.
- Price range: $15-$125+
- From low-high: Hamilton Beach, NutriBullet, Vitamix single-serve container (for use with a Vitamix Ascent)
- These are what you think of as a traditional blender on your countertop. They consist of a motor base, a carafe, and an inner blade. They’re great for occasional smoothie makers but might require some additional prep work or liquid to make a completely blended smoothie. A regular blender can handle multiple serving sizes, but is not consider a high-speed blender.
- Price range: $65-70
- From low-high: Hamilton Beach, Oster
- High-speed blenders are the cream of the crop–and the most expensive. The price range for high-speed blenders is so wide because quality varies. There are some inexpensive high-speed blenders that do a great job but may burn out more quickly. The most expensive blenders are a multifunctional kitchen tool and tend to last much longer.
- Price range: $300-$600+
- From low-high: Blendtec, Vitamix
Best Green Smoothie Recipe
There are an endless number of combinations that you can use to make a green smoothie. But, I have come up with a basic formula that is a great starting point. This recipe uses dairy-free milk as the base, blended with one serving of greens and two servings of fruit.Print
Here’s a basic recipe for making a green smoothie that is dairy-free, paleo, and vegan-friendly.
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 frozen ripe banana, broken in half
- 2 large handfuls baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- In the pitcher of a high speed blender, combine the almond milk, strawberries, banana, baby spinach, and almond butter.
- Place the lid on tightly and blend for 45-60 seconds, or until the smoothie is creamy with no chunks.
- Serve immediately.
- Feel free to get creative with what fruits and leafy greens you use. Frozen cherries, mango, papaya, pineapple, and all types of berries work well. For the leafy greens, you can use kale, collard greens, Swiss Chard, or any type you like. You can even freeze cucumber and squash to put into a smoothie.
- You can also use whatever nut butter you like. You can also use coconut milk, avocado, or seed butters too.
- Store any leftover smoothie in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- You can also add in protein powder if you want to make your smoothie a meal replacement.
- Category: Smoothie
- Method: Blender
- Cuisine: Healthy
Keywords: healthy vegan green smoothie recipe, dairy free smoothie recipe, basic green smoothie blend
Can you lose weight drinking smoothies?
Yes, you can lose weight by drinking smoothies. Similar to a juice cleanse, a smoothie diet can help reduce inflammation weight and reset hunger signals. Smoothies are generally easier on blood sugar and your metabolism than low-calorie, high-sugar juices.
If drinking your veggies helps you eat healthier and steer clear of processed foods, go for it! Keep in mind, though, that weight loss is not guaranteed on a smoothie diet. Watch the caloric density of your smoothies and be sure you’re eating enough protein for satiety.
What is the best way to make a smoothie?
The best part of making your own smoothies is having control over what you’re putting into your blender (and your body!) Be creative with your smoothies and feel free to use this guide as a starting point.
- Steam your veggies. This helps break down fiber even more, making them easier on digestion. You can steam them in advance and then freeze them if you prefer frozen smoothies.
- Add in moderate portions of frozen fruit. Berries are a great choice, and tropical fruits like pineapple can create a sweet treat! Consider glycemic loads when choosing your fruit. Also think about trying to include fruits like bananas, mangoes, pears, and papayas which all have soluble fiber and help make a smoothie creamy, even without dairy.
- Don’t forget the fat. Increase satiety and nutrient absorption by adding fat to your smoothie. Avocados and coconut milk add creaminess while nut butters and hemp hearts add a slightly sweet, nutty taste.
- Avoid sweeteners (including in your nut milk). It’s popular to add stevia, honey, or maple syrup to smoothies but they’re usually unnecessary and may spike your blood sugar. Replace sweeteners with low-glycemic fruits.
- Have fun with toppings! Toppings for smoothie bowls (or mixed into your smoothie!) are fun and help you chew your smoothie. Sprinkle smoothies with fresh berries, coconut flakes, slivered almonds, or granola. Keep your portions reasonable, of course.
- Consider add-in items. Make your smoothie a full meal by adding in protein powder or collagen protein. Turn up the fun factor by mixing in adaptogenic herbs, supplements, or trendy items like bee pollen.
Best Healthy Smoothie Recipes
- Anti-Cancer Breakfast Smoothie
- Broccoli Sprout Smoothie
- Collard Green Smoothie
- Raspberry Squash Smoothie
- Peanut Butter Cauliflower Smoothie
And, don’t miss my round-up of the best healthy breakfast smoothies!
Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.