How to Make the Healthiest Green Smoothie
Posted by Lisa on January 1, 2017 / 12 Comments
Want to know how to make the healthiest green smoothie? You don’t even need a recipe, just grab a variety of greens, fruits and these superfood add-ins.
Are you a green smoothie lover like me? I mean, what’s not to love, right? They’re convenient, portable, easily digestible and nutrient-dense. A glass of green goodness. Which….is why I make them several times a week.
These healthy little drinks can be a meal replacement, immunity booster or jolt of energy, depending on what you put in them. And trust me when I say, the ingredients and combos are endless.
I remember when I first started making green smoothies years ago. For me, it started as a post-workout breakfast (as I tend to workout super early). But I soon fell in love with the fact that I could throw virtually anything into my Vitamix blender. Leftover salad greens. Yep. Fresh herbs. Yep. Veggies that I don’t normally love to eat. Yep (because woohoo, you won’t taste it).
What’s more, if you opt for mix-ins and superfood options you can uplevel your green smoothie in no time. Brilliant, eh?
The key here is to not be afraid to experiment. There really isn’t a wrong way to make a green smoothie (unless of course you forget the greens!).
But I do have a few tips to make the healthiest green smoothie possible:
1. Start with fresh, organic greens
You’re probably drinking a green smoothie for the surge of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, right? So it’s best to keep your greens as fresh, clean and nutrient-dense as possible. Hit up your farmer’s market for just picked produce or grab some organic greens from your grocery store. The key here is to steer clear of pesticide residues and wilty greens – which won’t pack the nutrient punch you’re looking for.
Dark leafy greens that work well in smoothies include kale, spinach, and chard. But you could switch that up with romaine, mustard greens, dandelion greens and celery as well. You don’t want to fall into a food rut, so make sure to alternate your greens.
2. Choose a healthy liquid base
You’re gonna be adding whole fruit to your smoothie, so it’s best to steer clear of fruit juice as the base. This will also help to limit the total amount of sugar in your smoothie. Good liquids include filtered water, coconut water and nut milks (like my fave cashew milk). Homemade nut milks are better than store bought as they won’t contain thickeners, emulsifiers, additives and other nasties. They’re also super easy to make, so give them a try!
3. Add a variety of fruit
If you’re new to the world of green smoothies, you can start with a higher ratio of fruit to help your palate get used to the flavor of greens. But over time, your goal should be to reduce the amount of fruit and increase the number of veggies. A good ratio for newbies is 2:1 – fruits to greens. This means for every one cup of greens, add two cups of fruit. But after a few weeks, work towards a 1:1 ratio….and eventually try for double the amount of greens to fruit. That’s how you’ll get the healthiest green smoothie possible.
Some greens will make this easier than others. For instance, spinach is pretty mild so you’ll acclimate to less fruit faster. Kale on the other hand is quite strong and you may need more fruit to get used to the flavor.
Fresh fruit that you’ve frozen is always ideal. Adding ice to your smoothie will make it watery, but frozen fruit helps to keep it thick and yummy! So pick a variety of fruits – bananas, apples, strawberries, mangoes, etc – slice them, freeze them on a flat sheet, put them into ziploc bags and voila – fresh frozen fruit for your smoothie and already individually packed.
4. Don’t forget some healthy fats
I see many people forget this step, but it’s crucial! Healthy fats help your body absorb all the goodness from the greens, veggies and fruits. Without fats, you might absorb only a portion of the nutrients available. So don’t miss out!
Simply add a little fat with coconut oil, nuts and seeds. Flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds are perfectly healthy options. But if you want your smoothie extra creamy and delish, toss in a 1/4 of an avocado. Adding healthy fats will ensure the highest absorption of fat soluble vitamins and nutrients, such as beta-carotene and lycopene, as well as vitamins A, D, E and K. Things your body needs!
5. Boost it with superfoods and mix-ins.
Based on the first four steps, you’ve got a rockin’ green smoothie. But if you want to uplevel it, toss in some superfoods and additional mix-ins. I personally love adding spices, like cinnamon, ginger and turmeric and superfoods like acai powder, maca powder, bee pollen and spirulina (though spirulina can be an acquired taste).
You could even throw in goji berries, dates and lucuma powder for some natural sweetness. After a workout, you might consider protein powder…and collagen powder (you’ve read my post on collagen powder, right?) is always a favorite for healthy joints, skin, hair and nails.
And since you might be less familiar with boosters, let’s review their benefits:
Goji Berries: known as an anti-aging fruit, they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamins A and C, amino acids, fiber, potassium, iron and zinc. Their high levels of carotenoids make them good for vision health.
Dates: rich in dietary fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, manganese and copper. And just one or two will help with constipation and sweeten your smoothie.
Lucuma Powder: a natural sweetener native to Central and South America, lucuma is packed with antioxidants, fiber, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It’s sweetness also tastes like a combination of maple and caramel (yum!).
Acai Powder: acai berries are loaded with even more antioxidants than blueberries! They’re also rich in vitamin A, calcium and disease fighting phytochemicals.
Maca Powder: rich in amino acids, phytonutrients, fatty acids and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. Maca is also an adaptagen (similar to ginseng) and can provide adrenal and hormonal support.
Matcha Green Tea Powder: packed with antioxidants, fiber, chlorophyll, vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium. It’s benefits include cancer fighting, anti-aging, detoxifying and energy boosting.
Bee Pollen: rich in protein, free amino acids, B-complex vitamins and folic acid. It’s touted benefits include help with digestion, immune function, respiratory system, skin conditions and energy. But if you have a pollen allergy, do your homework before consuming.
Spirulina: a blue-green microalgae loaded with antioxidants, vitamin A, iron and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains the eight essential amino acids and is one of the most nutrient-dense foods.
Whey Protein: provides whey-based protein, essential amino acids and other nutrients, perfect for exercise recovery.
Plant-based Protein: if you’re dairy-free, plant based-proteins can provide the same benefits of whey protein
Collagen: a protein necessary for cell renewal and healthy tendons, ligaments, muscles and cartilage. Collagen can also strengthen blood vessels, heal your gut (which you know I’m all about!) and boost healthy skin, hair and nails.
Hemp Seeds: full of easily digested proteins, essential fats, antioxidants, amino acids, fiber, iron, zinc and vitamin E.
Chia Seeds: rich in antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. They’re also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
You’re now set to enjoy the healthiest green smoothie! If you have a high-powered blender, like my fave Vitamix, you can dump all ingredients in at once. If you have a standard blender, add the liquids and fruit first. Blend until smooth, then add your greens and mix-ins.
And don’t forget to try new flavor combinations and superfoods you’ve never tried before. Who knows, spirulina might just become your new thing.
Give this green smoothie recipe a try: Post Workout Green Smoothie
This smoothie’s not green, but it’s nutrient-packed and anti-inflamatory: Golden Beet, Carrot and Turmeric Smoothie
Or for something totally different, you might just love: Green Smoothie Pancakes with Macerated Blueberries
How do you make your healthiest green smoothie? Do you mix it up or have a tried and true flavor? Share in the comments below!
(Note: this post was originally published June 2015, but just updated to include new info and photos)