If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably figured out by now that I LOVE green smoothies.
During the weekend, I blend up a mega green smoothie for the whole family.
I seriously wake up each morning looking forward to having a green smoothie. They are delicious, nutritious, hydrating and refreshing - what better way to kick start your day.
There is so much information out there on green smoothies - its really quite overwhelming. I'll stop here and say that I am not a nutritionist, nor do I have any training in nutrition. I have been slowly experimenting and learning as I go and below is a basic run down on the green smoothies that I enjoy and how I like to make them.
Firstly, what is the difference between juicing and smoothies?
Juicing is the process of extracting the water and nutrients from fresh produce and discarding the fibre (or pulp). Without all the fibre, your digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard, making the nutrients more readily available for absorption in to your body. Food Matters calls juicing a "nutrient express".
Smoothies on the other hand are made using the whole fruit or vegetable and retain the fibre (or pulp) from the fresh produce which is filling, slows down the digestive process and provides a steady release of nutrients in to the blood stream.
Here is a helpful little diagram from Reboot with Joe which highlights the basic differences between juicing and smoothies.
(Note: Caution should be taken with juicing it is very nutrient intense and can cause a spike in blood sugar levels which can lead to health problems)
Both are great options. Any way to pack more your fruit and vegetables in to each day is fabulous! Most people have a preference towards one of the other. Personally, I prefer smoothies. I have juiced in the past and I just have a bit of an issue with the waste (pulp) that is left over. I also love that a smoothie keeps me full the whole morning. But that's just me.
So what do you put in to green smoothie? Here are three great, quick reference resources which I have found really useful. They might be handy to print and keep on your fridge.
My sister sent me a link to The Ultimate Green Smoothie Formula from A Life Less Bullshit when I first got interested in green smoothies which breaks down the essential ingredients of a green smoothie in to 5 simple steps. You just mix and match with what you feel like that day. The combinations are endless.
Simple Formulas for Green Smoothies from The Organic Mechanic which is a New Zealand business who are passionate about good health.
Here's another one from the Simple Green Smoothies who is a fabulous resource for all things green smoothie.
Those guides make it pretty simple huh? So how do you blend up your green smoothie? The number one problem I hear is that the greens don't blend up properly and they become all chunky and stringy. There are a couple of things to consider.
Basically, the more powerful blender the better. There are absolutely tons of them out there. My sister invested in a Nutribullet which is a meant to be the elite high performance vitamiser.
But while you're starting out (and before investing hundreds of dollars in a high performance blender), I suggest trying out what you already have and seeing if you can make it work for you. We were given a Kenwood Multipro when we got married which is seriously amazing. The blender jug attachment has ice crushing blades and does a brilliant job of whizzing up those greens.
If you have a standard kitchen blender which you aren't getting great green smoothie results from then you might find these blending tips from Simple Green Smoothies helpful.
I found the order which I put everything in to my blender makes a difference to the outcome of the green smoothie. If I put the kale in to the blender first the blades can't grip the kale and I end up having to push everything down to get it going. So I layer the fruit first and pop the leafy greens on top which works much better.
Make sure you have enough liquid in the blender to help push everything around. Most recipe guides say 1 to 2 cups.
So, all that said, here are some of my favourite green smoothie combinations. Most of my smoothies so far have been citrus based as I started making green smoothies at the beginning of winter when there was an abundance of fresh oranges, manderins and lemonade fruit. I can't wait to experiment with all that delicious summer fruit! Most of my green smoothies are also actually brown, red or purple in colour as I enjoy a lot of berries in them.
Kale, Orange, Pineapple, LSA and Almond Milk
Kale, Orange, Kiwifruit, Pineappple, Mixed Berries, LSA and Almond Milk
Orange, Kiwifruit, Banana, Mixed Berries, Kale, Coconut Water and LSA
Kale, Pineapple, Orange, Goji Berries, Mixed Berries, Almond Milk and Flaxseed Oil
Kale, Granny Smith Apple, Manderin, Kiwifruit, Banana, Avocado, Mixed Berries, LSA and Coconut Water (using up all the odds and ends before grocery shopping - nothing goes to waste in our house!)
Baby Spinach, Granny Smith Apple, Kiwifruit, Mixed Berries, Chia Seeds, Flaxseed Oil and Coconut Water
Kale, Nectarine, Pear, Orange, Banana and Coconut Water
I'll be sure to post an update in summer when I've experimented with some delicious peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots. Mmmm... ;-)
And finally, here are a few notes on some of the "superfood" ingredients I like to use:
Kale is "the queen of greens". It is high in fibre, iron, calcium, vitamin A, C and K and is powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. A real nutritional powerhouse. I also alternate using spinach and parsley too. I grow a lot of my own curly kale, spinach and parsley but often have to supplement with store bought because I use so much.
LSA is ground linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds. Like kale, it is another "superfood". It is extremely high in fibre. I'm a big fan of Ceres products and we enjoy the Ceres Organic LSA.
Flaxseed Oil is actually made from linseed. I sometimes use this in place of LSA for a smoother consistency smoothie. I use Healtheries Flaxseed Oil which is readily available at our local supermarket and a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Coconut Water is harvested from young coconuts and is ideal for hydration. I usually buy Cocofuel or UFC Refresh as they have no added sugars, are not made from concentrates and are widely available at my local supermarkets.
It alternate the coconut water with almond milk which is low in fat and an excellent source of calcium. I use So Good Unsweetened Almond Milk.
I love mixed berries in my smoothies. I've enjoyed using frozen berries through out winter as fresh berries are pretty much non-existent in our New Zealand winter. Plus they are super convenient. I have really enjoyed using the Oob Organic Mixed Berries. They are certainly premium quality and so sweet. But I have also really enjoyed buying single variety berries to play around with too.
Another "superfood", Goji Berries are described as the most nutritionally dense fruit on earth. The dried berries are available in the bulk bins at your supermarket. If your blender isn't very powerful it is advised to soak the berries first for 10 minutes or so.
Chia seeds are an ancient whole grain and are loaded with antioxidants. You can find them in the bulk bins at your supermarket.
I'll stop here again and repeat that I am not a nutritionist, nor do I have any formal training in nutrition. I have been slowly experimenting and learning as I go and this is a basic run down about the green smoothies that I enjoy and how I like to make them. That is all. If anyone has any info or advice that they would like to add then please feel free to add it in the comments. I'm always open to new information on the topic.
I hope this has inspired you to try making your own green smoothie. I'd love to hear how you get on and the interesting combinations you come up with. Enjoy and be healthy x