In an ideal world, we’d all eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible –- at least 2 ½ to 3 cups per day according to the USDA. Leafy greens are a rich source of minerals (including magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium) and vitamins, including vitamins C, E, K, and many of the B vitamins. Perhaps the star nutrient in leafy greens is vitamin K: About 2 ½ cups of leafy greens provides at least nine times the minimum recommended intake of vitamin K.
It’s a good idea to incorporate raw greens into your diet because cooking at high temperatures can reduce the amount of nutrients and enzymes you extract from the food. But eating a lot of raw greens each day is not an easy task. You might not like the taste or the time it takes to prepare—or even chew—them. That’s where green smoothies come in. Green smoothies can be a savior if you want the goodness of an abundantly green diet, but don’t have the time or jawbone to get it done.
Making your own fresh green smoothie is a great use of your kitchen time. Not only is the prep time 10 minutes or less, from start to cleanup, but a blended drink is a quick and portable part of a healthy snack. (Keep in mind, One Medical Group nutritionists recommend that a complete snack includes protein, complex carbohydrates, and a healthy fat –- so you could enjoy your smoothie as part of a healthy snack or meal or you could add 2 tablespoons of ground shelled hemp or 2 tablespoons of almond butter to amp up the level of protein in your smoothie. For more snack ideas, take a look at 18 Soul-Satisfying Snacks.)
Green Smoothie Tips
- For the tastiest smoothie, try a fruit to greens ratio of 60% fruit, 40% greens.
- Freezing your bananas is the secret to making a ‘creamier’ textured drink. I recommend freezing bananas when they are perfectly ripe. Just peel them and put them in a zip lock bag whole –- no need to chop them first. You can easily break the banana into smaller pieces when you make your smoothie.
- Spinach is the best “starter” green that any blender can pulverize. For greens with tougher stemmed greens, such as kale or collards, you could spend a couple of extra minutes cutting out the stems and tossing the leaves in the blender. Or you can toss the whole green (stem and all) into a higher speed blender, like a Vitamix, to produce a smooth drink.
- Your smoothie should last in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Easy Green Smoothie Recipe
In a blender; blend until smooth, which can take up to 1-2 minutes
2.5 cups of filtered water
2 frozen bananas
3 to 4 fresh peaches, pitted and quartered (frozen is OK if peaches are not in season)
3 oz of washed spinach (Speed Tip: Get 6oz bags of organic baby spinach and use ½ the bag so you don’t have to weigh your spinach.)
Serving Size: 22.5 oz
Total Carbs: 32.44
Dietary Fiber: 4.88g
Brigitte Center of Brigitte’s Naturally Alive is certified in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University. She teaches ‘Raw Food for Real Life’ un-cooking classes, helps people jump-start healthy eating habits with a green smoothie delivery service, and writes the blog Raw Food Living Diet.