Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Green Smoothies

Green smoothies got big a few years ago but they never appealed to me. However, over the past year, I gained 12 lbs while working in Baltimore. I was hanging out with a bunch of guys from the south who love things deep fried and drowning in butter so it's not surprising that I've gained weight. I'm trying to get into shape for the summer and for an upcoming trip to Provo Island, Turks & Caicos, so I've started drinking green smoothies for breakfast. They are quick and easy and make a great breakfast.

Green smoothies offer lots of health benefits. The ingredients all have tons of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and it's all whole foods; nothing is processed. Blending up the greens also gives your body a head start at breaking down the cell walls of the plant so it's easier to digest. But it's better than juicing because you still get all of the fiber. The fiber also helps your body slowly digest the smoothie so you stay fuller for longer and there's no sugar crash. All the sources say to rotate your greens (since all leaves in nature contain some amount of toxins - it's a defense mechanism) and they say not to add dairy or sugar because that just defeats the benefits. It's supposed to be great for your hair and nails and skin. So far (it's been about 1.5 weeks), I've noticed that my skin "glows" more and my nails are strong.

You can make these about a day in advance and store in the fridge. I like to drink a smoothie for breakfast so I make it the night before. Also, if you let it mellow out overnight, the grassy taste of the greens becomes more subdued.

Formula [1 serving]:
1 large handful of greens**
1/4 cup water (enough to make the smoothie drinkable)
1 cup (frozen) fruit
1/2 banana

**Suggestions for mild-tasting, easy-to-blend greens: baby spinach (which is the best "starter" green because it's really mild), romaine lettuce, swiss chard, parsley, basil, carrot tops, beet greens,
Suggestions for bitter/spicy-tasting, easy-to-blend greens: arugula, mustard greens, dandelion greens, 
Suggestions for hard-to-blend greens (if you have a great blender): kale, bok choy, collard greens, turnip greens,
There are much more extensive lists, which you can just google, and if you're curious about the nutrition values, you can google that too.

I like using frozen fruit because it makes the smoothie thick and keeps it cold for longer. Unlike the greens, it's okay to use the same fruits everyday since fruits are meant to be eaten (they're nature's way of procreating - animals eat the seeds and "deposit" them in a new location later). I should warn you that if you use darker fruits - like berries - the smoothie will come out an ugly color. Since red is the complementary color to green, it turns out a brownish grey that's kind of unappetizing but still delicious. I'm just letting you know!


I use a giant latte cup to measure the greens - it holds about 1-1/2 cups.
The smoothie blends best when the spinach is in the bottom. Add in a little water (start with a few tablespoons). The water will help get the smoothie started.
Then dump all of your fruit and the banana on top and blend.
Here's a smoothie that has dark berries in it. See? Brown and kind of ugly.
But if you use a lighter green, like romaine lettuce, then it's not as hideous.
Here's the color of the smoothie made with just yellow fruits (mango, peaches, and banana). Much more appetizing, I think. It has a bit of a radioactive green color, but it's still a pretty shade.
Just experiment to come up with a flavor combination that suits your palate best.

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