It’s a well known principle that including 5+ vegetable and fruit servings a day is a great foundation for your daily eating habits. 5 would be an absolute minimum, and we should really be aiming for double or more that number!
Getting that many servings is something I struggle with at times, and certainly I struggle to get my preschooler to eat that volume of fresh fruit and vegetables. There are tricks though, and green smoothies are an excellent trick to consuming greater quantities of the foods that are great for our bodies with minimal hassle.
What are green smoothies?
Everyone’s had a smoothie before. We’re not talking the type blended with soft serve and fruit syrup at your local dairy though. A smoothie is essentially a blended mix of fruit, liquid and possible other healthy additions. A green smoothie includes greens as one of the ingredients.
What do I need to be able to make green smoothies?
You need a blender. That’s the most important part! I have a magic bullet so blending is super easy – and wash up is even easier. But any blender will do.
If you want to make the simplest green smoothie, the only other things you need are greens, fruit and water. But you can mix things up and make things more exciting from this point!
Get your blender out and give it a clean. It will be in frequent use once you get cracking on the benefits of green smoothies!
The basics of green smoothies consist of one part greens, one part fruit, one part water. Best to use a frozen fruit so that your smoothie is nice and cold. As you get used the flavour you can up the greens and down the fruit quantity for a smoothie that really packs a green punch, but you might want to get there slowly.
Frozen berries are an extremely convenient, nutritionally beneficial addition to a smoothie. Also buying lots of bananas when they’re on special, peeling and freezing them in bags makes for great smoothie making. But most fruits will work in a smoothie, so choose whatever’s to your taste, and if it’s not frozen you might want to add some ice for the same effect.
Great green options are: spinach leaves, kale leaves, silverbeet or bok choy. There are other possibilities but these are readily available year-round in many places. They are all also easy to grow in the NZ climate! In winter! What’s more fun than trudging down to your garden first thing in the morning in a southern frost to cut some fresh kale for your blender? Veggies are the most nutritious when they are consumed as close to growing out of the ground as possible. So growing your greens for your smoothies is completely possible. But so too is buying a bag of spinach leaves during your weekly shop.
Your liquid options – water is completely acceptable by itself in a green smoothie. But if you want something more exciting try: coconut milk, coconut water, almond milk, rice milk, dairy milk (or any combination of one of those topped up with water) – or anything similar that you think would work.
Fine tuning your smoothie
Give it a go by chucking your three cups full of smoothie ingredients into your blender and seeing how you go. Your blender might be powerful enough to cope adequately with that. If you’re finding that you end up with chunks – particularly chunks of green leaves which are a bit unpleasant – then try blending the liquid and the greens together for a minute before adding the fruit and blending again. This should sort out the chunks!
Add a little something more
For a creamy smoothie, try adding half an avocado, a few spoonfuls of yoghurt, or a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter, almond butter, pumpkin seed butter or similar.
For a super smoothie, add a large spoonful of LSA (Linseed, Sunflower Seed, Almond mix), chia seeds, flax seeds or similar.
To vary the flavour, try adding a large teaspoon of cinnamon, a dessertspoon of cocoa or cacao powder, or a spice of your choice.
As a meal replacement or to keep you fuller for longer, add in some protein. There are a large variety of protein powders on the market (check the ingredients to be sure you want to be consuming what you buy!), or simply add a spoonful or three of milk powder to boost the protein levels in your smoothie. If you’ve got a decent blender, try blending nuts with your smoothie for a protein boost – start with a small handful.
Convincing your kids to give it a go
Green can make the kids run in another direction. So work on your tricks, people!
The important thing is to get them to give it a go, because even when the smoothie looks quite green, you can often not taste the greens at all.
- Try a dark berry like boysenberries and up the quantity a little, you will find the smoothie is more purple than green.
- Pick their favourite fruit or let them pick the fruit combination!
- Convince them with science! Dark leafy greens contain: high-quality amino acids, beneficial minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and important phytonutrients. Look those things up together and see what benefits they have on your bodies.
- Buy a fun cup and/or straw that’s just for drinking these special greeen smoothies.
- If all else fails, you can try making the smoothie while they’re not in the room and putting it in a cup that hides what’s inside with a lid/straw.
Give it a go for a meal on the run, a breakfast that you can whip up and consume quicker than a bowl of cereal, or just to get you and your family on a healthier path nutritionally. Let us know your favourite flavour combinations and how you have been able to get your kids loving green smoothies too.