Back when I was a teenager, someone bought my mum a recipe book of smoothies. I looked through it, but I was repelled by the inclusion of vegetables. To me, smoothies were strictly sweet and fruity. I hated eating vegetables, so I definitely couldn’t imagine drinking them.
I know we must have had a blender at some point, but it was never on display on the countertops. And I’m pretty sure my brothers and I would have used it to make milkshakes instead. I sometimes ordered smoothies at cafés, or bought them pre-made in cartons from the grocery store, but I didn’t make them myself. It sounds silly, especially because I was good at baking, but smoothies intimated me: They should be so simple, but it was confusing to know how to achieve the right taste and texture.
My eating habits improved a lot in college: I ate vegetables happily, and I started exercising regularly for the first time. Despite the fact that I drank a lot of water, I had a tendency to feel faint, and sometimes I would pass out, especially after working out. I spoke to a nurse, who suggested I eat closer to when I was planning on going to the gym. She suggested a smoothie instead of a big, heavy meal to avoid feeling nauseated.
I can’t say that I immediately took her advice to heart, but a few years later I found myself checking out my roommate’s blender. I’d taken up running the year before, and I loved it. I was attending graduate school in Mississippi and the only time I was was able to go running was early in the morning. I needed to eat something that I could digest quickly, so I could get out before the heat was too strong.
And so began my journey of making smoothies. It was actually a lot like my journey to becoming a healthier person. I used to think of green smoothies, and the kind of healthy people who consume them, as being disciplined/dedicated/better in a way I could never hope to be. Why even try? But in reality, everyone deserves to be healthy, nobody is perfect, and this is one of the easiest ways to help yourself.
Green smoothies and a beginner’s running plan, Couch to 5K, are my first recommendations for anyone looking to improve their health. Smoothies contain essential vitamins, help with hydration and satiety, and they give you an energy boost, which is perfect for a pre-workout meal or an energizing start to the day. Once you get comfortable adding veggies, there are plenty to choose from that offer both a great flavor and tons of nutrients.
That morning back in Mississippi, I made my first smoothie with spinach, and I was amazed that I couldn’t taste it at all. Now I pretty much always include some greens with my smoothies. I try to change it up and have two greens on rotation each week (I shop seasonally when I can). I’ve experimented a little with other greens, but I like kale and spinach best as I find them the least offensive taste-wise, and I’m happy to eat others in a salad or meal. Try your smoothies with collard greens, Swiss chard, romaine, or any other greens you want to sample!
I put together this list of my ten favorite green smoothie recipes so you can give your morning a delicious jump start.
Note: It’s important to blend the greens with the liquid first, as this will stop it from being lumpy. Spinach is easy, but kale can be chunkier. Cut the leaves from the stem and store in the freezer. When it’s time to make a smoothie, blend the greens with the liquid on low at first, then increase to high, until it’s smooth.
- Berry Banana: 1 handful spinach, 1 cup coconut water, 1/2 medium banana, 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- Cherry Mint: 1 handful spinach, few mint leaves (to taste), 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, 1/2 cup coconut water, 3/4 cup frozen cherries
- Carrot Apple Mango: 1 handful spinach, 1/2 cup carrot juice, 1/4 green apple, 1/2 cup frozen mango, tbsp chopped fresh ginger
- Carrot Mango Kiwi: 1 handful spinach, 1/2 cup carrot juice, 1/2 cup frozen mango, 1-2 kiwis
- Banana Peanut Butter: 1 handful spinach, 1 cup almond milk, 1 banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter
- Banana Pumpkin Butter: 1 handful spinach, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 banana, 2 tbsp pumpkin butter
- Peach Blueberry: 1 handful kale, 1 cup coconut water, 1/2 cup frozen peaches, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- Everything Green: 1 handful kale, 1/2 cup coconut water, 1/4 green apple, 1/2 cup green grapes, few slices cucumber (deseeded), squeeze of lime
- Tropical: 1 handful kale, 1/2 cup coconut water, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1/2 cup frozen mango, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
- Banana Strawberry: 1 handful kale, 1 cup almond milk, 1 banana, 1 cup frozen strawberries
- I like to make a double batch the night before, and store in Mason jars for an on-the-go breakfast.
- You can add other items such as chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, or protein powder. Also think about nut butters, avocado, oils, Greek yogurt and oats if you want to make it into more of a complete meal.
- Sub out the coconut water for regular water, and the vegan milk for cow’s milk. I often add water as I go along, depending on the consistency I’m going for—I think this helps my cheaper blender, too.
- A couple of my recipes use carrot juice. I don’t have a juicer, so I chop the carrots in a food processor, puree with orange juice, then strain and store in jars.
- When it comes to blenders I would probably choose one of these two brands: Blendtec or Vitamix. Vitamix is very well known but also fairly expensive. Whereas Blendtec is an underdog who has really stepped up their game recently.
What are your favorite smoothie recipes? Leave a comment, or tweet us @LitDarling!