Essential Ingredients for Easy, Delicious Green Smoothies
I’ve mentioned before that I’m addicted to green smoothies, and for good reason: there’s been no single lifestyle change that’s made as much of an impact on my overall health as green smoothies have.
So what is a green smoothie, you ask?
Rest assured, you won’t even know there are greens in there, as these smoothies taste even more delicious than Orange Julius.
The difference is that while most store-bought and commercial smoothies are loaded with added sugar and low-quality dairy, and are often suspiciously lacking in real fruits and greens, the green smoothies I make are dairy-free, chockfull of fresh fruits and vegetables and bursting with flavor, vitamins and minerals to nourish your body.
Green smoothies are hydrating and great for your skin, they’re nutritious and full of fiber (compared to juices, which are fiber-less and thus don’t help keep ya regular, if you catch my drift) and they’re one of the easiest ways to get multiple servings of fruits and vegetables in one sitting.
To wit, here are the nine essential green smoothie ingredients you need to make delicious green smoothies every day:
A Blender: When it comes to blending green smoothies, you get what you pay for. Personally, I use a Vitamix and I couldn’t be happier with it. It is a splurge, to be sure, but unlike many lesser expensive blenders, the Vitamix liquefies even the densest, toughest and crunchiest items, from nuts and ice to frozen fruit, seeds and leafy greens. There’s nothing the Vitamix can’t blend, and all in a matter of seconds. I have the S30 Personal Blender, which takes up little counter space and is great for smoothies on the go; but I often end up using the larger container so that I can fit more ingredients in and make two smoothies at once. Also try checking Vitamix.com for special sales or discount promotions!
Leafy Greens: No green smoothie is complete without leafy greens. My favorite is spinach as it has such a mild flavor that always goes unnoticed taste-wise in smoothies. But it’s important to eat a mix of greens to maximize your nutrients (rather than just eating the same greens every day, which might cause you to miss out on some important vitamins and minerals), so I rotate in kale (slightly more flavorful than spinach, but blends in really well with sweeter fruits), arugula (which has a bit of a peppery bite) and romaine (which lends a more watery, lettuce flavor to smoothies). I also love adding fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro for a really refreshing, bright burst of flavor.
Frozen fruit: Buying dozens of fresh fruits every week is a recipe for waste in my kitchen. Not only are some of my favorite fruits not in season year-round, but it can be difficult to get through a pound of fresh fruit before it goes bad, and it’s expensive. Contrary to popular belief, frozen fruit is actually the best option for smoothies, as it’s picked at the peak of ripeness and frozen immediately for maximum flavor and nutrients. Plus, it adds an icy cold quality to smoothies without having to water them down with ice cubes. Always go for organic fruits to minimize toxins and pesticides–Whole Foods’ 365 brand is affordable and delicious. My favorite frozen fruits include strawberries, blueberries, peaches, pineapple, mango and cherries.
Bananas and Avocados: To get that creamy smoothie texture (plus a hint of sweetness), I throw bananas into most of my smoothies. I’ll often buy a big bunch and freeze a few bananas (peeled and cut first, of course) to use later, too. If I don’t want that sweet banana flavor, I’ll use an avocado to achieve that same velvety texture in my smoothies.
Unrefined Sweeteners: One of the best reasons to make smoothies at home, rather than buying them pre-made, is to control the sugar content. Most store-bought brands add tons of unnecessary refined sugars to their smoothies, all but defeating the purpose of drinking smoothies in the first place. While most smoothies will be plenty sweet from the natural sugars found in fruits, when I need an extra boost, I throw in a couple pitted dates or a teaspoon of raw, organic honey.
Non-Dairy Liquids: I used to always add yogurt and milk to my smoothies before I knew better. But sadly, conventional store-bought dairy carries a host of health concerns (namely hormones and antibiotics), so now when I need to add liquid to my smoothies, I look to non-dairy alternatives, like coconut water, nut milks and fresh-squeezed citrus juices, like lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit. Sometimes good old fashioned water (filtered) does the trick, too. I can’t believe how creamy and smooth my smoothies are without the dairy.
Omega-3 + Fiber Boost: TMI Alert: One of the biggest changes I’ve seen after drinking green smoothies every day is my improved digestion. After years of suffering with constipation, I’m finally going to the bathroom every single morning. I have to credit the improvement to the addition of ground flaxseed and chia seeds in my smoothies (and to probiotics, but that’s for another post). Their incredibly high fiber content adds bulk and softness to your stools, plus they’re full of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation, among other benefits. I always try to add either flax or chia to my smoothies and highly recommend Bob’s Red Mill brand.
Superfoods: Though flax and chia are technically considered superfoods, I put them in their own category as they always make their way into my smoothies. But other superfoods, like hemp seeds, cacao nibs, acai powder, goji berries and wheatgrass, are used on a rotational basis (I recommend the Navitas Naturals brand). Each of these ingredients takes up little space in smoothies, but provides HUGE health benefits. I try to use at least one superfood in my smoothies every day and rely on recipes from Superfood Smoothies for ideas, which speaking of recipes…
Smoothie Cookbooks: Once you get the hang of green smoothies, you may not need a recipe (after all, these smoothies can be made with just about any combination of fruits and greens and there are truly no hard and fast rules). But in the beginning, I found it insanely helpful to have a few recipes that I knew I could rely on to be healthy and delicious. My three favorite smoothie cookbooks are from Clean Cuisine, Superfood Smoothies and Simple Green Smoothies. Use these recipes as a starting point and then experiment with your own tastes and ideas. Have fun with it!
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust.
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.