Q: I've been doing some green smoothie recipes, but I want to add in extra nutrition and vary things up. Any ideas?
~Good on Greens
A: But of course! Keep reading to find out how to supercharge your green smoothies using herbs, superfoods, probiotics, wild foods, veggie stock and more!
First things first. A Green Smoothie consists of Fruits, Greens, some kind of Liquid, and optional Add-ins. Let's get into thinking outside of the box, shall we?
They tend to be medium to high glycemic and have a slipperiness to them. Usual examples: mangoes, bananas, berries, peaches and pears.
To Try: Use tropical fruits to add some variety. Good choices include litchi, kiwi, pitaya, pineapple and papaya. If you have the opportunity, try exotic fruits like rambutan, jackfruit, durian, loquat, and soursop.
Some veggies are considered botanically fruits, as they have seeds inside of them. Examples include tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers, zucchini and bell peppers
Fruity Veggies To Try: greens can be added to the "veggie fruits" (or is it fruity veggies?) but the taste will be more like a veggie cocktail. While obviously healthy and low in carbs, if you are looking for fruity green smoothies, then try adding them in with the usual slippery fruits. Play around with the ratios (e.g. 1 cucumber to 1 mango + greens), but bear in mind these fruits are rather mild-tasting, so will add nutrition without compromising on taste. A few ideas: mango-tomato, cuke-a-berry, pear zuke-i-licios.
Any leafy green will do, such as kale, chard, collard, spinach and the many varieties of lettuce.
For Variety: Steam the greens first before adding them to the blender (leftover cooked greens also work well). For those with hypothyroidism, veggies that are in the Brassica/Cruciferous family are recommended to be cooked/steamed first as they contain goitrogens which can interfere with thyroid functioning. Similarly, those who are sensitive to oxalates (e.g. spinach, kale) should also cook/steam those veggies first.
To Boost Nutrition:
Idea #1: Use wild (and not so wild) greens. These "weeds" are high in vitamins and minerals and include Plantain, Sheep Sorrel, Dandelion, Mustard greens, Grape leaves, Red Clover leaves, Stinging Nettle (parboil 5 minutes first), Borage leaves, Nasturtium leaves and Chickweed. Some of these are sold in health stores or farmer's markets, or you can forage them or grow them yourself (many herby places sell seeds, such as Richters). To add extra nutrition and smoothness to your smoothie, choose greens that are in the Malvaceae family, such as Hollyhock, Mallow, and Marshmallow. Violet leaves (many species) are great too. Add them raw or parboil first. Note that how much to use depends on the type of green being used, but in general replace 1/4-1/3 of the greens used in the recipe with the wild/not-so-wild green(s).
Idea #2: Consider trying "exotic" greens such as tatsoi, mitsuba, bok choy, Daikon leaves, Chrysanthemum leaves, arugula (spicy!), rapini, and endive. Replace 1/4th of the greens used in the recipe with this idea.
Idea #3: Replace 1/4 of the leafy greens with other greens: green herbs or green veggies. Fresh green herbs include parsley, coriander, mint and dill or a combination. These will impart their taste to the final result, so be sure to taste test and use less before adding in more! Green veggies include broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, asparagus, artichoke, celery, green beans, peas and avocado. Except for the avocado, which is a healthy fat, you can add the others cooked/steamed, canned or raw, as you prefer.
Idea #4: High in nutrients, microgreens may be small, but they pack a nutritional punch! Consider growing your own or purchase from heath food stores. Seeds are sold online. A good place to shop: sproutpeople.org. Mild sprouts include red clover, canola, alfalfa, sunflower and buckwheat shoots. Others can be a bit pricey, such as beet, broccoli, kohlrabi and cabbage. Use mild sprouts to replace 1/4-1/3 of the greens in your recipe.
Standard liquids in a green smoothie are water, milk and non-dairy milk.
To Add Extra Liquid Nutrition, Here Are Several Ideas:
Many supplements can be added to supercharge your green smoothie from basic to outstandingly concentrated. This can take the form of using powdered herbs, superfoods, probiotics, and green powders. Other "goodies" can add flavor, fiber, or a fun element to your smoothie.
Powdered Herbs. Instead of using herbal infusions, decoctions or tea, you can often use the same herbs in their powdered form. Simply open up a capsule or two and add the powder to your smoothie. Bar in mind that powdered herbs have about a 12-month shelf life when purchased from health food stores; however you could always powder your own dried herbs using a coffee grinder or high speed blender (store the powder air-tight in the freezer or use empty capsules). Herbs that you could add in are vast, from Astragalus and Cat's Claw to boost immunity to Yellow Dock and Shilajit for iron deficiency, from Rhodiolia to help with adrenal burnout to Ashwagandha to help with a host of issues.
Superfoods are so-called as they are nutritionally dense. They provide lots of vitamins and minerals in just a small amount, and are usually low in calories. They can also provide "medicine" and sometimes add flavor. Some key superfoods are:
Other Nourishment To Jazz Up Your Smoothie:
One final note: some do prefer to eat their green smoothies in a bowl with a spoon, instead of drinking them in a glass. You'll often find these smoothie bowl recipes topped with nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, berries, cacao nibs, granola and other goodies. Whether in a bowl or glass, green smoothies do make nourishing breakfasts and they offer healthy meal replacements. If you're looking for some recipe ideas, you can find several Green Smoothie recipes on the site, including Cooked Green Smoothies (CGSs).
To great smoothie-making days ahead,
Article Originally Written 2016. Updated 2021.
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