Green Smoothies are one of the most efficient and tasty ways to ensure you’re getting all the vital nutrients, anti-inflammatory compounds, phytochemicals and vitamins your body needs to function at its best into your body on a daily basis.
Commercials for vitamins always crack me up – they are almost always packaged with pictures of fruits and vegetables, and people are talking about how you’ll get all these benefits “just like eating fruits and vegetables!” from taking them. Guess what, EAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES to get the maximum benefit from these important foods!
I know that making a green smoothie that tastes good on the fly can seem a little daunting, so my solution for you (and exactly what I do at home) is to prep bags of greens and bags of fruit ahead of time to set myself up for success on a daily basis. This is actually super easy, and you can do any variety of greens and tasty ingredients you like.
1. Bag the greens.
I like to wash and shred a couple varieties of kale into my ziplock bags. You can also try some swiss chard, romaine, baby spinach, or other dark leafy green. Rotate through different kinds of greens throughout the month to keep your body infused with a spectrum of phytonutrients.
Other optional greens to include:
1 stalk celery
1/4 cup (approximate) fresh parsley
Fresh mint leaves
2. Spice it up.
I love making a spice blend and putting a teaspoonful in each bag along with the greens. One of my favorites is:
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cacao
1 tsp nutmeg or cardomom
1 tsp ginger (or use fresh ginger root)
Mix those together and add 1 tsp of the mix to each bag.
3. Add a protein source.
I like to add 3 T hemp seeds to each bag, or a packet of protein powder. My favorite P.P. to add to green smoothies is made by Garden of Life, and it’s the Raw stuff. It’s gluten, dairy and soy free and I find it very easy to digest. You can get the Vanilla Chai flavored one, which is especially nice if you’re short on spices in the house to add (they usually have these in individual packets at Whole Foods). If you’ve got your spices dialed in, try adding the plain one. Sun Warrior vanilla is also great, and I’m a big fan of Vega protein powder.
4. Bag your Fruit.
I like to make separate bags of fruit and freeze them. Then I can just dump the two bags together and I’m ready to go. I usually buy apples, pears and bags of frozen berries to save money. I also include my citrus in the bag of fruit, which helps keep it from oxidizing (turning brown), and boosts my immune system at the same time Bonus!
1 apple OR pear, cut up into pieces (remove the core)
2/3 cup frozen or fresh berries: assorted or blueberries, blackberries, strawberries
1/4-1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed into the bag
What I personally use to make my Green Smoothies is this amazing high speed blender called a Blendtec. It will be an initial investment between $380-450 (I purchased mine at Costco), and at the time I couldn’t believe I was spending that much money on a BLENDER but I use it every single day, and the consistency of my smoothies is amazing.
I get a lot of reader questions about their green smoothies, and how chunky they come out in a regular blender. I will say, having a good blender is key. If you don’t have one though, you can get good results in a food processor. Try that for starters if you’re not ready to get a new blender.
Hot Tip: Minimize Stomach Aches
Keep in mind that if your green smoothies aren’t blended to tiny particles, you will want to eat/drink them a little more slowly in order to allow some pre-digestive enzymes to work. Gulping them down may lead to a little bit of stomach ache.
You also want to be sure to wash your greens. You’re eating food raw – cleanliness is paramount.
My formula for washing fruits and vegetables is to add some Apple Cider Vinegar to your (very clean) sink of water and rinse them off in there. Use about 1/3-1/2 cup ACV to a basin/sink of water. If your produce isn’t organic, you’ll also want to scrub it gently with a soft bristle brush.
Putting it all together:
My formula for Fitness Green Smoothies:
- Maximum of 2 fruits (and if fat-loss is your goal, stick to low glycemic index fruits like berries, apples and pears)
- Assorted dark leafy greens (kale, chard, spinach etc)
- Assorted water-dense vegetables like celery and cucumber
- Fresh herbs: like mint or parsley
- Spices if desired – if you review some of my green smoothie recipes you’ll see I’ve been on this chai spice blend kick for a bit – I love throwing in a little cinnamon, nutmeg and or cardomom.
- Seeds like chia, flaxseed or hemp, and for a little more healthy fat consider adding coconut oil or avocado
- Protein powder – and if I’m using hemp seeds I don’t really include the p.p as hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids
- Liquid of choice: hemp, almond or rice milk – or water.
Depending on when you are making your green smoothie you can choose to add more or less sweet fruit (for example morning and post-workout are great times to boost your sugar intake)
For a meal replacement be sure you think of protein, fat and carbs – just like you would in a meal.
Watch the Green Smoothie Prep Video