Green Smoothies 101

Bare Basics, Nutrition Topics, Smoothies

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Green Smoothies 101. Where do I start with green smoothies? Well, we met a long time ago back in 2008, I immediately fell in love with the way my body responded to the increased energy and surge of nutrients that this smoothie packs, and ever since then my love of green smoothies has flourished. I remember when I first started drinking these lovelies, I’d have friends and family members look at me like I was a weirdo eating rabbit food (understandably)- I’m glad that green smoothies have hit the mainstream and more of you out there are giving them a try. Besides, now we can all be “weirdos” together right?

Why drink greens?

Basically it’s a smoothie that combines simple ingredients- a liquid (such as filtered water or coconut water), fruits of choice, and dark leafy green vegetables (this should ideally make up about 60-70% of the smoothie). The signature green smoothie of Nutrition Stripped is what I call the Stripped Green Smoothie and you can check out that post for the full recipe. Don’t be intimated with the greens, just have fun and create your own; that’s the beauty of it all! Green smoothies are getting a lot of hype for good reason. Below I share my breakdown of why green smoothies can be an amazing addition to your eats.

1.

Easy to digest! Because the raw/frozen fruits and raw greens have been blended, the cell walls where nutrients are encased, are then “broken”. Blending essentially makes the nutrients more readily available for use by the body. Think of it as being “pre-digested”

2.

Nutrient dense. Packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, polyphenols, fiber, water, and oh did I mention fiber?

3.

The new breakfast. Perfect first thing in the morning before your usual breakfast, snack, OR increase the serving to take place of your entire breakfast (up to 32 oz or until you’re satisfied).

4.

Simply and quick. If you’re someone who is always on the go, this is a perfect way to ensure you’re getting a substantial amount of greens into your diet (which are oh so important!).

5.

Veggie-lover. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy eating green leafy vegetables, this is a perfect way to “sneak” them into your diet. You won’t be able to taste the greens at all with the mixture of fruit and lemon juice- I promise, just give it a go!

6.

Kid-approved. Not to mention, they are very kid friendly. Especially when you have fun with the names of the colors found in smoothies (i.e. the Hulk for a green smoothie, Spider man for a red berry smoothie, or princess for a pink smoothie, etc.). It’s a fantastic way to get nutrient dense foods into their growing bodies.

7.

Versatile. You can always add/remove ingredients to your liking. That’s why green smoothies are so easy to incorporate into your lifestyle. The base recipe where I make additions from is my original Stripped Green Smoothie, from there the possibilities are endless.

8.

Filling. Since the main ingredients of my green smoothie are only fresh/frozen fruit and raw vegetables, it’s loaded with fiber. 1 serving of my Stripped Green Smoothie ~ 10g fiber.

9.

Energizing. The main ingredients used are fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to give you sustaining energy in comparison to stimulating drinks that only last a few hours.

10.

On-the-go. There’s nothing quicker than throwing heaps of veggies and fruits into a blender, blending, and pouring into a mug to go out the door. It’s a super simple breakfast or quick meal/snack idea for a busy day ahead.

11.

Digestion. We mentioned the amazing fiber content in green smoothies, which is both soluble and insoluble. Having a food or meal that contains both types of fiber is fantastic for a healthy, efficient, and regular digestive system.

12.

And of course DELICIOUS!

TIPS

  • #1 Use a high speed blender! This will make a WORLD of difference between drinking a “salad” and drinking a creamy smoothie, trust me. Vitamix was my first ever high speed blender and it’s fantastic! Another new favorite of mine is the Blendtec, both of these are phenomenal for making smoothies.
    • Both of these blenders are a little pricey, but worth the investment especially if you plan to make more than smoothies. If you’re on a budget I recommend the nutribullet, magic bullet, and the ninja.
  • Beginners: I suggest having a higher ratio of fruit:greens (3:1), and gradually increasing the greens as your palate gets used to the green taste/texture. Ideally having about 70-80% greens and 20-30% fruits.
  • Organic: G0 organic as much as possible, click here to see which foods are best organic (from the EWG). Overall, the goal is to limit the amount of pesticide exposure as much as possible.
    • Another great option is to choose fresh produce from your local farmers markets/CSA’s.
  • Fresh is best: Use fresh raw produce especially with the greens. Fruits are an exception- for example, if berries are not in season and you’re jonesin’ for some, opt for the organic frozen varieties.
  • Use RIPE fruit! That’s right, eat those spotted bananas and mushy pears.
  • Citrus: Always add a citrus component (lemon, meyer lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit, etc.). Lemon is my personal favorite, not only for the taste but for the nutritional benefits.
  • Switch it up: Vary your greens! Some weeks you may use kale, spinach, romaine; maybe the next week you’ll use romaine, celery, and swiss chard, etc. Switch it up!
  • Variety (with greens and fruits) is important for obtaining a wide variety of minerals and nutrients, but also to keep the flavors fun and interesting.
  • Bananas: are great to add for a “binding” effect and creates a thick, creamy texture.
    • If you’re allergic to bananas, try pears, avocados, or mango.
  • Plan ahead: Make large batches. You can store this in the refrigerator for 3-4 days maximum. I suggest using mason jars with an air tight lid. You can purchase mason jars online, hardware stores, or even craft stores.
  • Experiment:Don’t be afraid to try greens that you’ve never heard of before. The sweetness from the fruit will “hide” much of the “green” taste.
  • Chew your smoothie! What? Yes, I said chew your smoothie. Don’t just guzzle down this green goodness, you need to slightly chew or swish it around. This sets up for better digestion by stimulating your salivary glands and digestive enzymes. Remember digestion starts within the mouth!
  • Get fancy now: Add in superfood extras [see the superfood suggestion below and check out my Superfoods 101 post].

HOW TO!

  1. Smoothie meal: 3 parts greens + 1 part fruit + 1 citrus + 1 part protein + 1 part healthy fat OR carbohydrate + superfoods + liquid to your desired texture
  2. Smoothie snack: 2 parts greens + 1 part fruit + 1 citrus + 1 part protein OR healthy fat + superfoods + liquid to your desired texture

Liquid } filtered water, coconut water, matcha green tea, homemade nut milks

Greens } the king green kale, spinach, romaine, celery, swiss chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, cucumber, wheatgrass, herbs such as mint, cilantro, parsley, and basil, and more!

Fruits } bananas, apples, green apples, pears, kiwi, pineapple, peaches, mango, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, papaya, blood orange, figs, dates, plums, açai, and more!

Carbohydrates } sprouted buckwheat groats, gluten free rolled oats, pumpkin puree, etc.

Healthy fats } avocados, nuts, seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seed, flax seed oil, coconut oil, coconut meat, young coconut meat,

Citrus } lemon, lime, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, orange

Protein } plant-based protein powders (I love Sunwarrior and Vega), hemp seeds, spirulina, nuts/seeds (which also contain healthy fats)

Superfood toppings/add-ins } bee pollen, maca powder, lucuma, cacao nibs, spirulina, chlorella, cinnamon, cayenne, baobab, etc. If some of these sound foreign to you, check back at my Superfoods blog post!

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In my next post, I’ll go over my absolute favorite green smoothie, the Stripped Green Smoothie, the signature drink of Nutrition Stripped. I hope the recipe will give you a better understanding on how to actually mix all these together to come up with a recipe that’s delicious and also still loaded with green nutrition.

Hopefully you all learned a little today about green smoothies and their power as far as nutrient density, helping digestion, and giving you all natural energy. If you loved this, feel free to bookmark it or save it for later by sharing it with friends! Be sure to use the hashtag #nutritionstripped for all your green smoothie creations, I wanna see them 😉

Have fun with creating your own,

xo McKel

Share your thoughts

  • Rachel

    Can you blog about the health benefits of your add ins like maca powder

  • alison

    wow – I just want to say thanks for this guide (and the associated recipes) – i tried making something inspired by this for breakfast this morning, and it was great – I put water, Kale, banana, apple, frozen blueberries, strawberries, lemon juice, freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon in it – and it was so delicious that even my three year old loved it!!! then we froze it in ice-pop moulds and ate it for dessert that night.

    I’ve also been inspired by your simple snack plates. sometimes the thing you’re looking for is right in front of you – they’re so simple, but of course, so perfect.

    So thanks heaps for a great website!

  • Luke

    Hi Mckel, I love love LOVE starting the day with a big ol’ glass of green smoothie and it’s good to read about some combinations and options that I wouldn’t have thought of! One question I do have though: what’s your opinion on the oxalic acid content in leafy greens? I know kale is really high in it, so currently the green in my smoothie is coming from spirulina and wheatgrass powder. I’d appreciate hearing what your thoughts are 🙂

    Awesome site – I can’t wait to dig through the treasure trove of information you have on here!

    Merry Christmas, too!
    Luke

    • Hi Luke!
      Great question, I wouldn’t worry about the oxalate content found in dark leafy greens as much as you’re getting from the nutrients it’s worth adding in the smoothies- this of course is general, some people would need to be a little bit more aware and mindful of the oxalates in their diet, but speaking for a normal healthy person, eat the kale! 😉

      • Luke

        Yay, that’s good to hear! I was sipping one full of kale as I read this and I can tell my body loves it 😀

  • Krystel

    i wish i could buy local organic food, but i live in Quebec Canada and winter here is EXTREM. So all the farmers market are close. But i liked the link saying witch produce we can buy with pesticides and witch one we shoudnt buy.
    and thanks for the nice article 🙂
    Keep doing the good work !
    Do you have an other link with more info on pesticides ?

    • Hi Krystel,
      Excellent question! I would recommend checking out the EWG “dirty dozen”- it’s an updated guide every year on the most heavily sprayed produce (pesticide residue) that would be a great start!

      • Krystel

        Thank’S 🙂

  • Joana

    Dear McKel,
    Thanks so much for this website! It’s really inspiring and I’ve sent the Batch Cooking 101 link to a number of people! I tried the Stripped Green Smoothie and massaged kale salad last week and loved them.

    I have a question about the ratio of fruit:greens you talk about. Can I simply weigh the ingredients as I go along to get the ratio right?

    Thanks very much!

    • Hi Joana,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m glad batch cooking has been beneficial for you! The ratio can be made by measuring out the ingredients, weighing it or good ole’ fashion eye-balling. You can also take into consideration the calorie/sugar content ratio. Fruit is a smaller serving than most greens and contains a lot more sugar and calories than greens as well- pay attention to the ratios with this as well 🙂

      • Joana

        Thanks for your reply!

  • Shannon L

    Hi there i was wondering since i have ibs and cant have nuts and seeds all the time if soy would work as a protein such as tofu and the fact i cant afford protein powders right now? thanks!

  • Shannon L

    Hi there i was wondering if you can use tofu as a protein instead of a protein powder, I can’t afford a vegan protein powder and tofu is much cheaper and more available for me to get.

  • Hina

    Hi,

    I have just started making green smoothies and am still learning the ropes. They always come out too bitter. Any idea what I can throw in there to cancel out the bitterness?

    Thanks!

  • Nicola

    I’ve just found your site and I LOVE it. I have a question about green smoothies, though. I usually buy my greens in the produce section and freeze them when I get home for smoothies; in fact, part of the reason I put greens in my smoothies is that my fridge has no humidity control and they go bad very quickly in the fridge, so I rarely have them in things like salads (rocket/arugula is the exception; I can actualy eat a bag of it before it gets slimy). Here you say that we should be eating fresh, raw greens in smoothies. I’m just wondering what the advantage is? I always thought frozen was good as it retains nutrients.

    • Thank you so much Nicola! Frozen is a great alternative to fresh produce, but using raw greens and raw fruit is ideal for smoothie because the taste and texture is much fresher, and when raw the produce is at it’s peak with nutrition quality. If you only have frozen fruit, that’s great to use, but I would try to use raw greens and veg for the green smoothies!

  • Katie

    What’s the difference between the coconut milk “beverage” made by companies like So Delicious and the thicker coconut milk that usually comes in a can? And which should I be using in my daily green smoothies?

    • Great questions Katie: I love using coconut milk from a can- organic brands that have less ingredients compared to refrigerated coconut milks. Canned coconut milk is often higher fat and is great for using in cooking or smoothies, but if you only have the boxed kind available that’s better than none at all, just watch the ingredient list and check back to my Guide to Nut Milks post for what to look for:

      • Katie

        Great. Thanks for the info! And by the way, I drink your green smoothies every morning! I love them!

  • Sabrina

    Thanks for this helpful guide, I´ve been thinking to start eating green smoothies for a while now but I recently heard that it is not that healthy to eat or drink raw spinach because of the oxalic acid. Is this true?

    • Spinach like many greens do contain oxalic acid, but not in quantities to avoid them! They’re incredibly nutrient dense as well

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