Green smoothies are the latest fad in health foods, and judging by the enthusiasm of those who love them, they aren't about to go anywhere. Armed with a high-powdered smoothie blender, some greens, some fruits and a little water, the possibilities become almost endless. Green smoothies aren't just a nice treat, they are so filling that they can easily replace one meal of the day in a very healthy manner.
Some green smoothies however — let's be frank here — absolutely suck. If you're tempted to go crazy with the old blender by shoving in beets, collard greens, ginger, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, onion, orange, lemon and mango, with some gratuitous chia seeds, you're more likely to be running to the restroom than be infused with health. If you want to love green smoothies, you need to find the right combos.
Why Green Smoothies?
Green smoothies — called that way because they're green-veggie based — have recently risen to popularity. This interesting phenomenon pushes back against an overwhelming fast-food culture as well as wholly embracing it. Green smoothies are quick and easy to make once you get a high-powdered blender like a Vitamix, after all, and allow you access to a tremendous infusion of veggies that you may otherwise miss out on in favor of processed meals.
They have plenty of benefits:
- Unlike the previously oh-so-ubiquitous juices, smoothies preserve the fiber you need so much.
- Heating vegetables, whether through boiling, frying, baking or steaming comes at the cost of losing some valuable nutrients, a problem you won't encounter when you enjoy a green smoothie.
- If you're trying to lose weight, you'll be amazed at how much a green smoothie fills you up while actually containing a surprisingly low number of calories.
- They save time — they're quick and easy to prepare, and if you really want to, you can certainly sip away at a smoothie while working and doing other things.
- Have you got a picky eater for a kid? Green smoothies may appeal to them and could be a great way to get them used to a greater variety of veggies.
Aren't Green Smoothies Dangerous?
Ah, so you've read the "doom and gloom" articles about green smoothies? Well, they are certainly half right. Ingesting green smoothies — which very often largely consist of foods high in oxalic acid — in ginormous quantities can absolutely lead to serious health problems. Research now shoes that the vast majority of people is able to deal with a high oxalate content quite effectively without any risk, however, around 20 percent of people is genetically predisposed not to. For them, a diet almost only consisting of high-oxalate foods would be disastrous, leading to such consequences as oxalate stones, not just in the kidneys but almost anywhere in the body, joint paint, urinary tract and grastrointestinal issues, painful sex in women, and depression.
"Detox" diets consisting only of green smoothies may make you feel good at first, but can do serious damage in the long run. The same holds true for consuming a diet too rich in cooked high-oxalate foods, however: the act of heating only eliminates some oxalic acid. Either way, remember that the true path to health is a balanced and varied diet. Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.
Green Smoothies You May Actually Enjoy
I don't personally own a high-powered blender for smoothies. I do, on the other hand, happen to live practically next door to a local fruit-and-vegetable seller who decided to boost her business by making a very special offer. For just the price of the produce you buy, she'll turn anything you want into a wonderfully healthy and energy-inducing smoothie.
Given that I got fed up with carrying large amounts of fruits and veggies meant for my juicer home, and that lazy me thinks washing a juicer up is actually quite the hassle, I have already taken her up on the offer on numerous occasions. At first, I felt a bit like a kid in a candy store: I could pick anything! After going absolutely crazy a few times and ending up with rather disgusting smoothies, Fruit-And-Veg Lady offered some very useful tips.
The key to a good smoothie that actually has a nice taste is, apparently:
- Two parts water
- Two parts greens
- Three parts fruit
Then, there are two more things to take into account. First off, more variety doesn't necessarily make for a better smoothie. Two, three, or four different ingredients is quite enough — perhaps, if you like, with an added dash of lemon, some ginger, or some nuts or seeds. Secondly, healthy green smoothies don't save you from that mid-afternoon sugar crash by default. To prevent yourself from crashing after an initial sugar high, you need to choose low glycemic index fruits. Those include apricots, oranges, grapefruits, pears, apples, mangoes and papayas. If you're not too fond of bitter-tasting stuff, you may also want to add some extra honey. Don't forget about the extra water, or your smoothie will likely be hard to chug down.
OK Then — Where Are The Recipes Already?
I'll just throw a few out there, all of which I personally tried.
- Two parts spinach, two parts water, three parts orange
- One part kale, one part spinach, two parts water, three parts orange and a little ginger
- Two parts spinach and mint, two parts water, three parts blueberries and strawberries
- Two parts kale and avocado, two parts water, half a small beet, and a banana.
- Two parts collard greens, two parts water, three parts mango, grapes, and cucumber.
- Two parts kale and dandelion, two parts water, three parts pineapple, carrot and orange.
- Two parts avocado and spinach, two parts water, three parts apple and pear.
Note: All of these smoothies will taste good with added walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, or dried cranberries. You can add yogurt to anything that doesn't contain citrus fruits without any issues, and crushed ice cubes give you a "freezer" instead. Honey, cinnamon, or a bit of cardamom can be added for taste. Indeed, the "two parts" water recommendation is a general guideline: in order to avoid overdoing it, always start off with a little water and add according to your needs: some smoothies naturally end up being more watery. Finally, make sure to run your blender on slow before speeding up.