Feb. 20. 2013
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

It’s time to fall in love with these easy to digest, nutrient-dense drinks.

Green smoothies are a great way to pack in greens — a vegetable the majority of us are not eating enough of — into a delicious and easy to drink smoothie. The possibilities are endless with flavor and greens combinations so here’s a quick guide on why green smoothies are great to add into your diet.

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 NS signature green smoothie 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

They’re 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. Simple 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-Friendly

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. Digestive-friendly

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

12. Delicious

And of course, they’re DELICIOUS!

Tips In Making Green Smoothies

  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 farmer’s markets/CSA’s.
  4. 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.
  5. Use RIPE fruit! That’s right, eat those spotted bananas and mushy pears.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. Bananas are great to add for a “binding” effect and create a thick, creamy texture. If you’re allergic to bananas, try pears, avocados, or mango.
  10. Plan ahead: Make large batches. You can store this in the refrigerator for 3-4 days maximum. I suggest using mason jars with an airtight lid. You can purchase mason jars online, hardware stores, or even craft stores.
  11. 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.
  12. Chew your smoothie! What? Yes, I said to 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!
  13. Get fancy now: Add in superfood extras [see the superfood suggestion below and check out my Superfoods 101 post].

Green Smoothie Formula

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

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 milk

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!

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