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The 5 Essential Ingredients in a Healthy Green Smoothie

green smoothie with cranberries

Photo cred: Joanna Slodownik CC 2.0

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 these tips to create the perfect green smoothie every time.

The 5 Important Building Blocks of a Healthy Green Smoothie

Leafy Greens

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 and preventing alkaloid build-up.  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.

Fruit

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.

Liquid

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.

Protein

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, nuts and hemp hearts.

Fat

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.

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:
Post Workout SmoothieIngredients:

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • ½ cup plain full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 cups spinach
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple

(Calories: 250 Protein 11g, 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!

I’d love to hear any green smoothie tips or recipes you might have!  Leave your recipes in the comments below.  Happy blending!

Article was written by Tara Coleman and originally appeared on www.totalgymdirect.com.

2 thoughts on “The 5 Essential Ingredients in a Healthy Green Smoothie

  1. Great tips. I’ve been doing protein smoothies the past few weeks and finding I really like them. My favorite so far is berries, milk, chocolate protein powder, spinach, and ginger. Love how the ginger gives it a little zing!

    1. That sounds delicious, Tina! I love ginger too. It gives it a little extra kick and is great for your immune system and digestion!

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