The green smoothie is one of the healthiest convenience foods in existence. It’s high in vitamin C, fibre, magnesium and lots of other nutrients, but relatively low in sugar. It’s hydrating, and it tastes a lot nicer than you might think. You can pour it into your favourite drinking vessel and take it to work or the gym – you’ll find it surprisingly filling.
A green smoothie is just a fruit smoothie with added greens such as spinach, kale or chard. The greens add nutrients like iron and fibre, and the fruit masks the taste of the greens – in fact, they blend well together.
I usually have two 500ml green smoothies for lunch, but if you’re not used to smoothies, it’s best to start small (250-350ml) and build up gradually so that your system gets used to the high dose of fibre. A green smoothie should keep for up to three days in the fridge.
This recipe is for a 350-500ml green smoothie. When making green smoothies it’s not important to use exact amounts of ingredients – what’s more important is the balance of ingredients.
Green smoothies have to include greens – whether that’s kale, spinach, chard or any other type of greens is up to you, and you can vary the amount of greens used according to taste and how much your system can cope with fibre. I recommend a handful of greens in each juice, but if you don’t normally have a high-fibre diet, it’s best to build up the greens gradually.
Ingredients can vary, but for this smoothie I’ve used:
• 1/2 banana
• 1/4 mango
• 1/2 orange
• 50g greens
Start by putting the fruit into the blender.
My favourite recipe is one banana, a quarter mango flesh or pineapple and half an orange or apple, with a large handful of spinach or kale. I peel all of the fruit except for the apple. Apple skin has a lot of nutrients, and if you have a good blender, you won’t get any lumpiness from the skin – only the flavour.
But if you’re worried about pesticide use you might want to peel the apple first. I always remove the apple core and any orange pips, and I also remove the hard central section of the pineapple.
Add about 150-200ml water.
Add the greens.
You can add the ingredients in any order you want, but I find it easier to add the water before adding the greens.
You might also want to add other flavourings at this stage, such as paprika or nutmeg. Paprika is rich in iron, and the taste is not nearly as spicy as you might think – it blends well with greens. Some people like to add cayenne pepper, which is fine but just add a pinch – cayenne is very strong.
Or you can just leave it as it is.
Now, you’re ready to…
How long should you blend for? A good guideline is 30 seconds, but again, it depends on your preference. With spinach you might need only 20-25 seconds. Some people like the odd lump and don’t like to blend for too long in case it destroys the nutrient content. If you’ve added a lot of kale you might want to blend it for a minute or a bit longer.
Pour into your favourite drinking vessel, and enjoy!
Kale has a wonderful flavour (try chewing some raw – you might be surprised!), but you need a powerful blender to extract the taste and pulp all the ingredients into a smooth liquid without lumps. The best blenders cost hundreds of £s/$s, but there are much cheaper blenders that make excellent green smoothies with kale or almost any other type of greens.
I would recommend using a blender with an engine power of 300 watts minimum if you plan to blend kale. If your blender has less power, I would advise you to use spinach rather than kale, as you won’t need as much power to blend spinach into a smooth, lump-free liquid. This is probably the best plan if you’re new to green smoothies.
The Nutribullet has a 600W engine, so it will comfortably pulp kale to a smooth consistency. Various models are available, but I would go for one with at least two blender cups for convenience.
The Breville Blend Active only works in the UK, though similar types of blender are available in other countries. It has a taller, slimmer blender cup and a motor of just 300W, but I find it handles kale pretty well. Again, I would recommend getting the version that comes with an extra blender cup.