As any self-respecting green coach would know, green smoothies are an essential part of any diet. I’ve been enjoying green smoothies now for more than a year, since first trying them at Bahay Kalipay in April 2010 while attending a rawfood and innerdance retreat.
I wanted to write about green smoothies, because, between you and me, I’m slightly obsessed by them. Honestly, I tell everyone I can about how great they are, I make them for my friends, family and colleagues. I’m even planning to make some and give to my gym instructors this week!
My love/obsession with green smoothies is starting to drive my husband slightly up the wall, and he groans whenever I bring them up (which is at least twice a week). But even he loves them, and has dedicated a blog entry to green smoothies/raw food, and usually gulps his smoothie down a lot faster than I can.
What are Green Smoothies you ask?
Well, green smoothies aren’t what you probably consider smoothies to be. They aren’t made on icecream or milk, instead they are made with leafy greens and fruit.
(Source: Leland Pasion, www.pinoyweekendwarrior.com - green smoothie lovingly made by me)
“Urgh, a smoothie made on leaves and fruit. Yuck!” Well, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I’d be rich woman by now. Equally, if I had a dollar for each time someone tried a green smoothie, with their hesitant face all scrunched up and then a relaxed and surprised, “Wow, that actually tastes good!”, I’d be rich.
In fact, I’ve given green smoothies to many a friend, colleague and family member and I only ever had one person not like it. That one person was my 11 year old niece, and as we all know that kids like their food based on appearance, not on taste, she doesn’t count. Even my dog loves them, she'll lick up every last drop.
Why have green smoothies? What are they about?
Why not have green smoothies, is more the point. Green smoothies were ‘discovered’ by Victoria Boutenko, after ten years of being on a raw food diet. She initially introduced herself and her family to raw food after suffering from serious illnesses (asthma, diabetes, obesity, thyroid disease etc) and successfully brought her family to health. After ten years, she realised that something was missing from their diet, and after comprehensive research, realised it was large quantities of green leafy vegetables (as her family were primary fruit eaters.)
In Victoria’s research, she found that to access the super nutritional value of leafy greens, the cell walls need to rupture to release the nutrients. So, she blended some leaves, realised they tasted pretty ordinary on their own, and added a variety of fruit. The famous and well-loved green smoothie was born.
What is the nutritional value of green leafy vegetables?
I’m not a dietician or qualified health practitioner, so I’ll leave you to do most of your homework on green leafy vegetables, but apparently greens are a nutritional powerhouse. I can attest to this. Whenever my body feels sluggish (especially after going vegetarian again a few months back) or I feel lethargic, the first thing I do is make a batch of green smoothie, as my body is craving the goodness.
According to this website greens are perhaps ‘the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food.’ They are rich in minerals, for example, iron, calcium (in fact, greens have more calcium than milk!), potassium and magnesium. They are rich in vitamins including K, C, E and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.
According to Winston Craig, who has a lot of letters after his name (MPH, PhD, RD), leafy vegetables are ideal for weight management and are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. They are also valuable for those with Type 2 diabetes.
How to make green smoothies
Much to the annoyance of my friends, whenever they ask how to make green smoothies, I usually give a vague answer of “Take any green leafy vegetable and blend it with any fruit. Go nuts, get creative, have some fun.”
That’s never an answer that usually pleases anyone, and I get a reply of “No, I want to know what was in the green smoothie you made me the other day, what ingredients, what quantity.”
So, here are a few recipes of my favourites (or at least, the ones I remember!!)
Bokchoy, Pear, Kiwifruit and Mint Green Smoothie
1 bunch bokchoy, roughly chopped
1 pear, chopped
1 kiwifruit, chopped
A handful of mint
A generous dash of filtered water
Blend until all the ingredients have a fine, green consistency. My friend Alex, who is an ultra-athlete (and is about to cycle across the USA, sleeping homeless, to raise awareness and money for youth homelessness through the Street Dreams Project, yay for Alex!!) makes this, but he adds ginger. I tried his addition, and I love it. Ginger is really good for those of us with an Ayurveda Dosha of Vata, as ginger is a great source of ‘warming’ food.
But, my favourite at the moment is:
Beet Leaves, Apple and Strawberry Green Smoothie
(Buy the beetroot in a bunch, as you can use the beetroot for salad (I recommend Jamie Oliver’s Beetroot, Pear and Feta Salad – so amazing!) and then use the leaves for smoothies. Therefore, you get free greens, you use everything and therefore no wastage – win/win situation for everyone)
Several beet leaves, roughly chopped
1 red apple, unpeeled
4 or so strawberries, leave the leaves and stem on, extra nutrition for the smoothie
A generous dash of filtered water.
Blend until all the ingredients have a fine, red consistency. Technically this is more of a red smoothie, what with the beet, apple and strawberries.
I’ll add more recipes to the blog when I make some great concoctions.
Generally, I love to be creative, and use any green I can get my hands on: bokchoy, beet leaves, spinach, celery tops (again, buy the whole celery, chop the tops off for the smoothie and eat the stems – no wastage), kale, sprouts, whatever. I have used most fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, kiwifruit, berries, passionfruit. You can use fresh coconut water instead of water, and if you want to, you can add chia seeds and other nutritional boosters.
Green smoothies are awesome for breakfast! (Source: Leland Pasion, www.pinoyweekendwarrior.com - breakfast and smoothie made by yours truly and was delicious, thank you very much!)
Organic is best
One last thing I should mention, it’s best to use organic ingredients where possible. I know this isn’t always easy, even for me – and I do try to mainly eat organic fruit and vegetables. My raw-food mentors recommend to soak the ingredients in a bowl of water mixed with some white vinegar – as this ozonates the vegies, bringing them back to life, and removing dirt and insects.
You’d be surprised how many people are talking about green smoothies – at least I am surprised, and I shouldn’t be! I’m always coming across posts on green smoothies by athletes, health and fitness enthusiasts, and even the average Joe. There are even green smoothie communities popping up. Here are some resources where you can learn more:
What is your favourite green smoothie?
I'd love to hear what green smoothies you are making and love - so make sure you leave a comment and share the green smoothie love.