Summary: Green smoothies are a hot topic right now, from the media to your best friend. There are many variations, and learning when to use the right variable makes the difference between a healthy drink and a sugary dessert.
By Dr. Robin Mayfield
You’ve enjoyed a fruit smoothie from time to time, either at home or at a smoothie bar, right? Tasted like dessert, pretty yummy. Fruit smoothies are just what they sound like — fruit blended with some type of liquid and ice — but what about “green smoothies”? Throwing vegetables into your smoothie is enough to qualify it as “green,” but how healthy is it really? Here are some frequently asked questions about green smoothies, as well as a sample recipe to get you started. Bottom’s up!
What are green smoothies and how are they different than juice?
How is a green smoothie different from juicing?
“Juicing” extracts all available liquid from fruit and vegetables, straining the peel or pulp and leaving a thinner liquid to drink without insoluble fiber. Smoothies incorporate most of the fruit or vegetable into the drink, with the added benefit of increased fiber. There are times to use both.
Are all smoothies healthy?
No way! Particularly when you buy one at a gym or juice bar, where they often use pre-packaged smoothie mixes that are filled with sugar and other additives. To get the healthiest smoothie possible, make it yourself uing organic, whole ingredients, limit sweeteners, and avoid pre-packaged mixes.
Do I need a special blender?
That depends. If you’re going to stay with fruit smoothies, most good quality blenders like Kitchenaids will be powerful enough to blend the ingredients. If you’re going for green smoothies, using whole Kale, parsley, celery and more, a Kitchenaid will still chop it up, but might not give you a smooth texture. You might need to upgrade to a more powerful blender like a Ninja, Vitamix or Blendtec.
If you want to juice, then you will need a special juicer that will screen the pulp and peels away from the juice.
Can anyone add smoothies to their diet?
Most people can, but if you have any particular medical issues, you may want to check with your doctor about the ingredients you plan to use to avoid any interactions. A green smoothie a day is a great way to get your vegetables in, and some people who have good health to start with may even be able to do a green smoothie or juice fast for a few days. Again, do check with your doctor before starting or changing anything new in your diet.
Why juice instead of a smoothie? Isn’t fiber good for me?
A couple of reasons. First, juice gives your GI tract a rest, something that doesn’t occur often. And juicing delivers the maximum amount of nutrition straight to the body’s nourishment with little delay. You can drink a lot more concentrated nutrients in a juice than a smoothie, because the juice doesn’t make you feel full. On the other hand, smoothies can be used as a meal replacement, as well as to deliver digestible fiber to your system. This can be good for cleansing the colon, removing cholesterol and heavy metals, and slowing the absorption of sugars to improve health.
There’s a place for both!
1/2 c. liquid (Almond milk, coconut milk, water)
1 banana (try it frozen for texture and consistency)
1 large handful of baby kale or baby spinach (or a mix of both)
1 stalk of celery (the best alkalizer)
1 small handful of parsley (a great diuretic)
1 small handful berries, frozen mango, blueberries (optional, but I like the mix of fruit and veggies)
1/2 c. crushed ice
Place all ingredients in a blender and puree/blend/liquefy until smooth.
Optional Add-Ins: 1 T. chia seeds if your blender can handle it, 1 scoop rice or whey protein powder, 1 T. natural almond or cashew butter, natural sweeteners like 1 T. honey or agave nectar, small amounts of fresh ginger
Other fruit: orange segments, apple chunks (peeled or unpeeled), fresh lemon or lime juice
Other vegetables: cucumber slices, Swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens, sunflower sprouts, leaves from broccoli or cauliflower plants. Experiment!