When I first decided to get on board with the green smoothie crowd I was quite prepared to hold my nose and drink it down in the interests of improved health and giving my immune system the boost it needs. You do what you have to do right? I was shocked to find how delicious they are, it wasn’t just OK, it was YUM!
I know some of you are looking at me all sceptical but as you know, I’m no fitness guru! I love my sweet treats and I don’t skimp on the sauce. Moderation doesn’t come naturally so being able to get a good portion of my 5+2 vegetables and fruit in at breakfast time gives me a head start on my nutrition for the day if things go badly off track later on as they tend to do.
When I signed up for the blogging conference a couple of years back I had a lot of expectations but what I didn’t anticipate was the opportunity to meet Jadah from Simple Green Smoothies and be motivated to just try one. Back in my hotel room that night I went online and ordered a new blender, I knew my sad old milkshake mixer wouldn’t be up to the task but you don’t need a really expensive one.
I didn’t want to spend a fortune as I wasn’t sure whether I’d end up only making the one so I went with the Cuisineart blender and it’s been doing a great job every morning now for the past couple of years. I’m not anticipating having to replace it any time soon.
I did plenty of research online, talked to dozens of people and flipped through piles of old magazines when I got home working out what I could put into them. Turns out my preference is quite simple.
I’m practical and have limited fridge space, I want to make breakfast quickly and use the delicious local fruit while it is at its prime. That means I tend to use the same liquid base once I’ve opened it until it’s gone and whatever fruit is calling out to be used first ends up in the blender although I do like to combine a few fruits when I can.
How to make a green smoothie
The green. I start with a tightly packed cup of baby spinach or silverbeet cut from my garden. That works out to be a couple of handfuls for me and you don’t need to be too precise.
To be honest once you add the fruit you don’t taste the spinach and silverbeet and they get broken up so well in the blender that there are no bits. I sometimes add the leaves from a few sprigs of mint or basil from the garden too for an interesting flavour and the detox benefits on the digestive system.
Added in with the greens I’ll often add a handful of fresh herbs from the garden, my favourite is mint which is handy as it grows prolifically in a large pot next to the clothesline and it helps keep it under control.
The fluid. I’ve used almond and coconut milk but I really like to use 3/4 cup of coconut water. I avoid dairy but depending on what I have available I’ve used different types of juice, soy or nut milk, they all work well. You can even use water if you want, the flavour really comes from the fruit and herbs.
The thickening. I almost always use half a banana, they taste good, give a good texture and are a great source of potassium, vitamins B6 and C. I know some people won’t use them because they are higher calorie than some other fruit but my objective is health rather than weight management and I think the nutritional benefits and how filling it makes breakfast are worth it.
I prefer to add it fresh but if bananas are a really good price I’ll buy several bunches and peel and chop them into small single-serve bags or containers, add a little lime or lemon juice to stop it browning and freeze it. It works particularly well in the hot weather as it makes the smoothie colder without diluting it with ice. Ice is also quite damaging to the blender blades and can cause them to become blunt more quickly.
The fruit. I mix up a lot fruit and will continue to try all sorts of new things as they come into season. Pineapple, pawpaw, mango and melon work well. Living in Queensland I like the tropical fruit best as it’s grown locally, fresh and full of flavour but that’s just my personal preference.
Another reason I Iike yellow and orange fruit over berries, which taste delicious, is that it keeps the smoothie a nice bright green colour. Once you add reds and purples it can turn a bit more brown which is less appetising to look at but it still taste just as good.
Benefits of Green Smoothies
My reason for trying the smoothies despite my reservations about the flavour of blended spinach so early in the morning was my health. I’ve been battling chronic health issues and some less than desirable side effects of the medication crippling my immune system for some time. In the fast paced society we live in though many of our immune systems need a bit of a boost now.
I find the smoothies super convenient as a breakfast on the go. They are easy to transport for camping or to top up on nutrients before an early morning hike. They’re equally quick and convenient to energise yourself before heading into the office in the morning.
Now I work from home I often like to pack one into my cold cup and head down to the beach to enjoy it by the water before my morning walk. To keep them fresh and to retain their nutritional benefit if you aren’t going to drink them immediately make sure you store them in an airtight container.
I found when we headed up to the Bunya mountains that you can make them a day in advance and as long as you seal them up they should stay nice and bright and not oxidise.
My next experiment is going to be looking for some ice block moulds so I can try out a few of the fresher combinations as a treat to cool me down on a summers afternoon while still keeping it healthy. I love the look of these ones by Zuko from Kitchenware Direct and the speed freeze should lock in the goodness but not sure I can justify the price so I’m still looking at other alternatives too. Do you have any suggestions?
Have you joined the green smoothie fan club? If not what’s putting you off? If you do love them I’d love to hear your favourite combos in the comments below. I’m about ready to get more adventurous and try some new ideas.