I am a HUGE fan of green smoothies and so it was fitting I chose to write my first blog about them since I have converted so many friends and family already! Adding leafy greens like kale, spinach or pak choi to your usual fruit smoothie will give you a nutrition boost like nothing else. This simple concept makes consuming large quantities of greens, which are undeniably good for us, not just easy but delicious and enjoyable. A daily green smoothie will increase your energy levels, improve your digestive system, aid weight loss and raise antioxidant levels. Leafy greens are high in both fibre and protein and rich in vitamins and minerals they hold an abundance of natural medicine in each leaf.
I was introduced to the idea when I picked up a copy of the excellent book, ‘Green For Life’ by Victoria Boutenko on holiday and was impressed by both the concept and the well researched information in the book. I highly recommend purchasing your own copy.
Once I started to slowly introduce them to my daily diet, I can honestly say I felt a noticeable difference. Yes I had more energy and my digestion improved but the biggest change for me personally was my skin. I had been plagued by hormonal spots since having my daughter and every month I would have a small but noticeable break out. This stopped after just one month of having green smoothies daily, and I can say almost 2 years later that I have never had the problem again. My skin is also softer and a healthier colour. My partner had really dreadful psoriasis that started on his hands and slowly started spreading. While some ointments would help a little, nothing was clearing it up completely until he added green smoothies daily, working up to the recommended 1 Litre a day. If he stops for a while or doesn’t have them as regularly, it slowly creeps back. This is a fantastic result, as anyone who has ever had psoriasis knows, it is notoriously difficult to get rid of. It is my belief, from years of helping people with their skin, that skin problems are often linked to problems in the bowels. Skin conditions are the bodies way of riding itself of toxins, and it is a good sign in some respects that the body is attempting to heal itself. So be grateful that it is coming out in some way rather than manifesting inside, but do address your diet and likely lack of fibre, as well as treating the condition topically.
Before I get to the fun bit, thats talking about food! I could write a long blog about the nutritional aspects of green smoothies, the lack of fibre in the western diet, the importance of fruit and the misunderstood fructose… BUT my focus is on providing easy to follow recipes and tips. Besides, there are a lot of great books by people a lot more knowledgeable than me! I mentioned one of them already, Green for life, and the other I like is ‘The Green Food Bible’ by Kristine Miles. ‘Green for Life’ has more nutrition info and ‘The Green food Bible’ is great for recipes. I want to simplify things and am trying not to overload people with facts and figures. But if you’re that way inclined, those two books are a good start. Just know that by adding greens and healthy fats you are balancing out your smoothies nutrient percentages, adding a mountain of fibre, increasing antioxidants, normalising stomach acid, and adding more vitamins and minerals into each glass. Greens are great to eat whole, but blending them means their cell membranes are ruptured without lots of chewing and we can easily access the nutrients contained.
It’s really fun to play with the flavours and ingredients in your smoothie. The possible combinations are endless, you can add avocado for its creamy texture and healthy fats or raw cacao for both flavour and high antioxidant levels. You will end up with a couple of basic recipes you fall back on, but its good to go a bit gourmet now and then to keep it interesting. You don’t have to be a master in the kitchen either, you just need a great blender and keep stocked up on some key ingredients. Obviously you need leafy greens. Some perfect for smoothies are spinach, kale, pak choi and swiss chard. Many of your salad greens are ideal, just avoid the bitter tasting ones. I like to change the fruit I use but bananas feature regularly, as do berries, apples and mangoes. You can use frozen berries and fruit with a good high speed blender too. I sometimes add nuts/nut butters, seeds or tahini. If there isn’t much fruit I add dates or raw agave nectar to sweeten. When you start out, start with just a handful of something like spinach and as you get used to it you can increase it. Some people can be sensitive to a lot of fibre, especially if they add chia or spirulina to their smoothies as well. So start with smaller amounts first. I now have about 2 large handfuls, approx 100g of greens.
Herbs are a lovely addition and I especially like mint. You can also experiment with spices like cinnamon, nice with banana or apple based smoothies. Fresh ginger is great for digestion and as an anti-inflammatory.
Here are a couple of my favourite simple green smoothies to start you off, but you will see new and interesting recipes feature on my blog regularly. These recipes use pea protein but if you can’t get it, either leave it out or substitute with another protein powder or add seeds, nuts or nut butters- not too much!
Makes 2 X 250ml servings
- 1 banana
- 1 medium avocado
- 2 large handfuls of spinach
- small bunch sorrel
- 1 tablespoon lucuma or maca powder (optional)
- 1 dessertspoon nut butter or pea protein (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups coconut water or water
- 2 pitted dates
Blend on high for 1-2 minutes. If it is too thick, add a bit more water.
Banana and Berry Kale smoothie
Makes 500- 600m (approx):
- 1 banana
- 1 heaped Cup of berries
- 2 large handfuls of chopped kale
- 1 1/2 Cups water- optional, omit for a smoothie bowl
Blend on high for 2 minutes. This smoothie needs no dates or added sweetener.