Smoothie Basics: Making Delicious Green Smoothies
Fruit and Green Smoothies are quick and easy to make and only require a blender, a sharp knife, and a cutting board. Once you learn the basics you can make your own delicious creations every day.
STEP 1 – Add a Liquid
Liquid is necessary for helping your blender to mix all the ingredients. The amount of liquid you will need will vary depending on your blenders make and model. The higher-powered blenders tend to need slightly more liquid than the lower-end model. This is because the high-powered blender does a better job at pureeing the fruit and greens and it needs more water to thoroughly mix them. A low-end blender doesn’t blend as thoroughly and may produce a slightly chunky smoothie where separation may occur. (Don’t let this discourage you from making delicious smoothies with low-end blenders. You can create a thick and creamy smoothie with the right knowledge and a little love… J)
What Liquids To Use
- Filtered Water: I like to use filtered water when I make any smoothies. It doesn’t affect the flavor and doesn’t detract from the flavor of the fruits from coming out. Distilled Water can be an even better option because it contains NOTHING but the actual water itself. During the process the water is steamed through hot coils and both good and bad minerals are removed. The fruits and veggies give you all the nutrients you need.
- Coconut Water: If you want to give your smoothie a tropical tone or an added health benefit, use the sweet water from the coconut. The young Thai Coconuts are great and can be found at most Asian markets or health food stores. Each coconut contains about 16 ounces of delicious, sweet water and the meat is soft like a hard-boiled egg white. Not only can a young coconut help improve the texture of your smoothie it adds a wonderful flavor to any tropical fruit like pineapple, mango, papaya, and oranges.(You can also just buy the already made coconut water found in most grocery stores and it will work just as well).
- Fruit Juices: I don’t recommend using commercial juices in your green smoothie because they are not fresh. They have also been pasteurized which exposes them to heat therefore reduces the vitamin content and enzymes that are normally found in whole fruit or freshly squeezed juice made at home.
You can use your own fresh squeezed fruit juice from oranges, grapefruit, and lemons or if you have a juicer you can juice any whole fruit. Juice fruits enhance the flavor of the whole fruits used in the smoothies. (If you don’t have a juicer or want another juice option you can buy the fresher juices like Simply Orange, Lemonade, Limeade, and Apple. Just remember, the FRESHER the Fruit, the more Health Benefit you gain.)
- Milks: Green smoothies are the perfect detox food, and dairy products can interfere with that. However milk can add a delicious creamy content to your smoothie for a different flavor. If you are looking to boost your calcium intake just remember that most green veggies have more calcium than a glass of animal milk. Personally I love using Almond Milk for its thick and creamy consistency, but you can use any Nut Milk, Rice Milk, Hemp Milk, Oat Milk, or even Soy Milk. All plant-based milks provide added nutritional benefit as well, and many are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. (With my Soy Allergy and with some of the health controversy surrounding many Soy products, I don’t use or recommend the use of Soy Milk, especially with all the other choices available. But…to each his own!)
STEP 2 – Pick Your Base Fruit
“Base fruits” give your smoothie that creamy texture. Otherwise it will be too runny or you’ll end up with pulpy fruit juice (like if you blended oranges and grapes together).
For a perfect, smooth texture, use “creamy” fruits like banana, mango, peach, pear, apple, papaya, anddurian.
Avoid water-rich fruits like watermelon, grapes, and oranges (you can use them in your smoothie, but not as a “base fruit”).
If you want to make a smoothie using more than one fruit, use slightly more of the “base fruit” than the other fruit.
Avocado and coconut meat can also help thicken your smoothie while adding more calories and healthy fat for a meal replacement shake.
Greens will help thicken a smoothie as well, so the more greens you add, the less “base fruit” you will need. You shouldn’t rely on greens for a base though.
STEP 3 – Mixing Flavors
Flavor fruits are optional. They do enhance the flavor of your green smoothies as well as boost the overall nutrition. I like to use berries, citrus fruits, pineapple, or other strongly flavored fruit. I like to find fruits that will compliment the “base fruits” I use.
It’s easy to come up with ideas by looking at the fruit juice aisle or the yogurt section in the supermarket. Millions of dollars in product research has done the legwork for you, so just look at the popular flavors of juices and fruit flavored prepared snacks are and make your smoothies based on those combinations.
Believe it or not you can even get smoothie ideas while looking at scented candles. A wonderfully fragranced peach-ginger or citrus-cilantro candle stirs up curiosity and ideas for new smoothies to try.
Use your taste buds as a guide and don’t be afraid to let your whimsical side shine when you are ready to blend. A crisp Fuji apple with a young coconut comes out pretty yum!
Some flavor combos to try are:
- Banana (base fruit) with Strawberry
- Mango (base fruit) with Pineapple
- Pear (base fruit) with Orange
- Apple (base fruit) with Blueberry
You can get creative with your smoothies by flavoring them with Vanilla Bean, Clove, Ginger, Cinnamon, or even Peppers (Black, Cayenne) especially with chocolaty smoothies made with raw cacao. Flavored protein powders will also change the overall smoothie flavor so keep in mind when mixing fruit.
**NOW would be a good time to blend your fruit and liquids together. Just hold down the pulse button or pulse yourself off and on until all the ingredients are lightly mixed into a sludge. Doing this before adding the greens will make it easier for you and your blender.
STEP 4 – Add Your Greens!
While you can make a smoothie with just fruit, greens are also an essential part of a healthy smoothie regimen. Greens are essential because they play a vital role in overall nutrition and should make up a significant portion of your diet in order to achieve optimum health.
Before you wrinkle your nose at the notion of drinking spinach or kale, let me tell you that when blended in a green smoothie, the fruit masks the flavor of any veggies you put in. Serious! Give it a try! It’s perfect way to get your greens without tasting them. You can even sneak them into your kid’s diets too!
You can start off with a handful of fresh baby spinach, as it is mild in flavor. Gradually increase your dose as you open your palate to this new way of eating. Then, get crazy and add in any greens you can think of from kale, chard, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, to parsley and other fresh herbs. Your body will thank you!
The recommended percentage of greens to use in a green smoothie is 40% greens to 60% fruit. You can start at a lower percentage and work your way up as you get used to the flavor combos. You can even boost your greens beyond 50, 60, or even 70%.
Blending greens in a regular blender can be a little bit more challenging. A Blendtec or Vitamix can definitely do the job without leaving chunks and blending in half the time. With regular blenders you just have a little more work cut out for you. A great tip when using a lower-end blender is to use the “Blend-Stir” Method. Blend a little, stir a little, and so on. Increase the liquid if need be as you go along. Help your blender out a little, and don’t let the motor burn too hard and you will still enjoy delicious, creamy smoothies.
STEP 5 – Now Blend It Up!
Depending on your blender, you might need to hit the “Pulse” button a few times to mix the greens before hitting any pre-set “Smoothie” buttons. Otherwise, blend on high for anywhere from 30-60 seconds o until all ingredients are whirling away and your smoothie turns bright (or dark) green and it’s as smooth as silk!
Unless you have a high-end Blentec or VitaMix blender, you might need to chop up the greens rather than adding whole leaves or bunches. If you have large chunks of fruit that won’t blend, try cutting smaller pieces and leave out tough bits or core from pineapple and other fruits.
Try not to over0blend your smoothie. It might take a few times to get the hand of it, but once you do, aim for blending your smoothie enough to drink through a straw, but don’t leave your blender whirling the ingredients for more than a minute at most to reduce oxidation and nutrient loss.
OPTIONAL SMOOTHIE ADDITIVES
Your green smoothie is nutritious enough on its own, but if you really want to go all out for a healthy kick, you can use your smoothie to deliver extra protein, vitamins, and superfoods to your diet.
- Protein Powders: Your options for protein are numerous with high-quality, organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free, and sprouted protein with up to 23grams of protein per serving. They come in several flavors including plain and not all of them will create a “chalky” tasting texture.
Hemp protein is also an excellent, quality protein choice. It is more expensive than rice protein, but you can find brands that are certified raw, which is important if you are following the raw food diet.
Spirulina is a good source of protein. It’s a blue-green algae that is widely praise as a super-health-food. It can be quite expensive, but you don’t need to add much.
I don’t recommend soy proteins with research showing that soy protein isolate is not a healthy protein choice. You can do your own research and make up your own mind. Soy protein is the least expensive option and is widely available.
Any protein powder should work in a smoothie, although some types or brands might be more chalky than others.
- Green Powders: These powders are often made with a variety of herbs, grasses, vegetables, algae, probitoics, and trace minerals. With all the nutrition found in fresh, whole food greens you don’t need these powders.
- Powdered and Liquid Vitamins: If you are already drinking even two, high-quality green smoothies a day and making healthy dietary choices, you don’t need to use an synthetic multi-vitamin powder. Green smoothies are already a rich source of vitamins and minerals alone.
If you are a Vegan supplementing with vitamins B12 and D, or another vitamin/mineral supplement, adding it to your green smoothie is a convenient way to take it.
- Superfoods: Superfoods are a great additions to green smoothies. Ground up Goji Berries, Powdered Maca Root and Cacao, or Phytoplankton are great additions that mix easily.
- Omega-3’s: Just one Tbsp of flax seeds have over 100% of your recommend daily value of Omega-3 fatty acids. Grind up whole seeds in a coffee grinder before adding them to your smoothie.
- Sweeteners: When you are new to green smoothies, you might find that the fruit is not as sweet as commercial juices or drinks that you are used to. Try to only use fruit that is in season and ripe as it is at its nutritional peak, fullest flavor, and sweetest.
If you feel that you need to add a sweetener to counteract the bitter greens, I encourage you to use just a little bit with the idea of weaning yourself off it as soon as possible. Your taste buds will adjust and you will enjoy the natural sweetness of fruit.
For sweeteners, I recommend adding extra banana or a couple dates to your smoothie. Otherwise, try agave nectar, honey, or stevia. Avoid table sugar, corn syrup, or other artificial sweeteners.
GREEN SMOOTHIE TROUBLE SHOOTING
What If Your Smoothie Is Too Sweet?
Sometimes you add too much fruit or simply feel overloaded with too much berry sweetness. If that is the case, adding a pinch of sea salt, and extra handful of greens or a stalk or two of celery will cut the sweetness.
Make It Colder
If you are using fruit that has been ripening at room temperature, you might find that your smoothie is not cold enough for your liking. If this is the case, simply add a couple ice cubes or frozen berries to give your smoothie a more satisfying chill.
You can sweeten and hide bitter flavors with additional sweet fruits, especially bananas, pineapple, oranges, and ripe berries. Dates are also a great way of sweetening up a smoothie without adding extra bulk that you have to drink.
Storing Your Smoothie
I strongly recommend that you make your green smoothie fresh each day and that you drink it immediately after making it. The longer your smoothie sits, the less nutritious it becomes.
You can keep leftover smoothies in a sealed container in the refrigerator and have the rest with lunch or dinner, or make it the night before and have it ready for you in the morning. Be sure to shake it well when you are ready to drink it as separation of the juices and fiber in the fruit will occur.
NOW GO MAKE SOME SMOOTHIES!