Green smoothies are a fresh, fast and easy way to make sure you are packing your day full of nutritious fruits and vegetables. However, if not done correctly you can have a smoothie that is lacking important nutrients or tastes just plain awful! Follow the formula below to make a perfect smoothie every time!
The 5 Important Building Blocks of a Healthy Green Smoothie
Leafy greens are the foundation of every green smoothie and where they get their green color. Every smoothie should have at least 1-2 cups of leafy greens. I recommend rotating your greens from week to week to make sure that you are reaping the benefits of all of the different greens.
If you are just starting out, try spinach because it tends to have the least flavor. As you get more comfortable, add in other greens such as kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, etc. Frozen greens also work great! So either buy them frozen, or buy fresh in bulk when they are in season (and cheap!) and store them in an airtight bag in the freezer.
Fresh fruit not only provides other healthy nutrients but also adds a bit of a naturally sweet flavor. Remember, healthy food only works if you actually eat it so it’s important that you enjoy your green smoothie! Each smoothie should have ½-1 piece/serving of fruit. Opt for lower glycemic and higher flavor fruits like berries and apples. The same freezer trick holds true for fruit. However, be sure to slice the fruit before you freeze it!
The amount and type of liquid that you use is based on how thick you want your smoothie as well as how you want it to taste. Although fruit juices may seem like a good way to add flavor and vitamins, it is also a good way to add a lot of extra sugar. I would avoid using fruit juice whenever possible. Instead, opt for water, green tea or milk (dairy or non-dairy). I start with 1 cup per smoothie and then gradually add more if I need to thin the smoothie out a bit.
Adding protein to your green smoothie will make it a complete and balanced meal replacement, keep you satisfied longer and lower the smoothie’s impact on your blood sugar. My favorite proteins are Greek yogurt, protein powder and hemp hearts. The portion will vary depending on the form, but I like to shoot for ~20g of protein per serving if I am using this as a breakfast alternative. This ends up being ~ 1 scoop of protein powder or 1 cup of yogurt.
Fat is the most often forgotten ingredient in a green smoothie. Typically we try to avoid it to keep the smoothie low in calories. However, fat needs to be present in order to absorb the fat soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K). So if your smoothie is fat free you may be letting some important nutrients slip through your fingers. Oftentimes fat and protein come together (i.e. nuts, yogurt, etc.) but some other great options are coconut oil, avocado, chia seeds and nut butter. Shoot for about 1tsp per smoothie.
Perfect Smoothie Formula
So to summarize here is the perfect smoothie formula:
- 1-2 cups leafy greens
- 1/2-1 cup/piece of fruit
- 1 cup of liquid
- 1 scoop or cup of protein
- 1 tsp of fat
As long as you make sure the 5 ingredients are included, you can experiment with your favorite fresh ingredients. Here is my personal Post Workout Smoothie to get you started:
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 cup plain full fat Greek yogurt
- 1-2 cups spinach
- ½ banana
- ½ cup frozen pineapple
(Calories: 300, Protein 22g, Carbs 43g, Fat 6g)
Time Saving and Taste Tips for Your Green Smoothies
Even knowing all the health benefits of green smoothies, sometimes they can still be time consuming or not taste the way that you like. Here are some of my favorite tips to cut down on time and improve taste:
Blend the Greens First
Add the greens and liquid first and blend. Then add the other ingredients. This will make sure the greens are fully broken down and you don’t end up with an embarrassing piece of kale in your teeth.
Make Green Smoothies in Bulk
Green smoothies will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator. I like to double my recipe and then I’m all set for two days. The ingredients may separate, but after a quick shake it will taste perfect!
Use Freezer Bags
I like buying produce in bulk and proportioning them into individual freezer bags. So each of my bags will have the fruit, vegetable and sometimes fat components of my smoothie. They when it’s time to make it, I just pull out the freezer bag, dump it into a blender, add the liquid and protein and blend. You’d be surprised how even cutting down on a few minutes makes life much easier and makes you much more likely to actually do it! Plus, you can save a lot of money by buying in season produce in bulk.
Cut the Taste of the Greens with Lemon Juice
Even with fruit, sometimes greens can be bitter. Add a splash of lemon to cut the taste of the greens and make your green smoothie even more delicious!
Add Nutrient Boosters
Perhaps the best part of smoothies is they are great ways to sneak in extra nutrients that can help with your specific health goals. They are also a great way to add some extra flavor! The options are really endless, but here are a few of my favorites:
- Green Super Food Powder (I’m a fan of AmazingGrass)
- Maca (great for hormonal health)
- Cinnamon (great for taste and blood sugar)
- Flaxseeds (omega-3’s and fiber)
- Turmeric (anti-inflamatory)
More Smoothie Recipes
If you are looking for more great smoothie recipes using some of the nutrient boosters above, you can find them here: 5 Healing Smoothie Recipes.