Back when I was at my corporate job, I was the resident hippie/yoga instructor. I had a yoga mat and a headstand prop in my office and I’d sit in full lotus position during meetings with a large glass of this:
I’m not sure what was scarier for my colleagues – seeing me in full lotus position during a corporate meeting while drinking this, or the drink itself.
While it may look green and uber-healthy and yes, scary, it’s surprisingly delicious and refreshing and addictive. In fact, it was the one thing that kept me from going postal when working crazy long hours and weekends.
So what is it? It’s what the raw vegan (and non raw-vegan, as it also seems to have migrated mainstream along with green juices) community affectionately and not-so-creatively calls “green smoothies”.
It’s green. It’s a smoothie. It’s a green smoothie.
The smoothie is often made by combining dark leafy greens like kale, collards or spinach with fruit and water and blending the mixture in a high-speed blender to achieve a baby food-like consistency. The fruit helps to offset the bitterness of the greens and the resulting smoothie tastes like a Jamba Juice if Jamba Juice actually made smoothies that were good for you.
Here’s an interesting experiment that I ran on one of the analysts who worked with me on a particularly gruesome work case:
Unsanctioned Experiment on Young 20-Something Male
This analyst was in his early 20s, frequented fast food joints for lunch, and would often go for meals on end without eating any fresh veggies. Concerned for his health, I started feeding him large glasses of my green smoothies on a daily basis. Given his penchant for greasy meat, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he actually enjoyed the smoothies and I felt my heart swell with a mother’s pride while watching him down his large glass every morning. Who needs kids when you have analysts to use as proxies?
After only a few days of daily green smoothies, I noticed that his complexion became brighter and smoother, he looked less tired, and that he was a lot more energetic and happier. His taste buds adapted as well, and he started to request less fruit in the smoothies as he thought they were becoming too sweet for him. I should have asked, but I bet his bowels were in great shape too! (Sorry, I had to mention that).
Advantages of Blending and Drinking Your Greens
1. To get the same amount of greens that you can blend and fit into a glass, you would have to eat several bowlfuls of salads. Just how many bowlfuls, you ask?
Not one bowlful.
Two? Nope, try again.
Three? Better luck next time.
You would need 300 bowlfuls of salad greens to get the same fiber, vitamins and minerals that are in just one glass of green smoothie! (Okay, so what if I’m exaggerating a bit? It’s close enough).
2. For those of you who are guilty of shoveling and swallowing your food without chewing properly, blending gives your digestion a bit of a helping hand. It’s pre-chewed!
3. Blending breaks down the cell walls of the greens, making it easier for your body to absorb. In order to properly absorb these nutrients, you would have to chew your greens a couple hundred times to get the same effect as a high-speed blender. You’ll feel instantly revived and energized!
4. You can have one large glass for breakfast and pig out on whatever you want for the rest of the day, knowing that you’ve had your daily RDA of vitamins. I don’t necessarily recommend this but hey, at least you’ve gotten your daily dose of fresh veggies and fruit!
5. It’s portable! You can pour your smoothies into a container and take it with you and sip throughout the day.
6. You’ll be idolized and revered among your friends. If they act otherwise, it’s because they’re jealous of your amazing complexion and hot body.
How to Make a Green Smoothie
Like with green juices, the best way to do this is by easing into it. Below are three recipes, increasing in IG (ingestion difficulty).
Level 1: Green Julius
Tastes like an Orange Julius! My husband took a jar of this to work a few days ago and while his colleagues initially ridiculed him (see point 6 above – secretly, they were admiring him), after they took a few sips, they agreed that it was indeed the best thing they’ve ever had in their lives. So okay, maybe not quite that delicious but still, definitely palatable.
1 cup coconut water
1 orange (peeled)
1 ripe banana
4 leaves of kale or collards (collards are sweeter than kale)
Start by blending the coconut water, orange and banana. Then, slowly add in the greens until everything is blended. Chill in the fridge and enjoy!
Level 2: Blue Monkey
The bananas and blueberries completely hide the taste of the collard greens! If you still taste the greens, just add more bananas. Over time, you’ll notice that the smoothie will start to taste too sweet. That means you’re ready to graduate to Level 3!
2 cups water
2 ripe bananas
1 cup blueberries*
4 leaves of kale or collards
Start by blending the water and bananas. Then, add the blueberries. Slowly add in the greens until everything is blended. Chill in the fridge and enjoy!
* The blueberries tend to make the smoothies less green and more brown.
Level 3: Blue-Green Monkey
You have achieved enlightenment. You should now be able to levitate, walk on water, and penetrate through walls. Just make sure to keep drinking your smoothies or your powers will fade quickly.
2 cups water
2 ripe bananas
1 cup blueberries
8 or more leaves of kale or collards
Blue-green algae or spirulina (optional – more on spirulina in a later post!)
Follow instructions from Level 2.
A note on blenders
You might want to invest in a good blender. I’ve had several models die on me (especially when I tried to feed them greens) after only a couple green smoothies. My current blender, a Vita-Mix, has been with me for several years now and is THE best blender you can buy in the market today. It basically is a lawnmower with a cup. You can put a piece of wood in it and you’ll get a deliciously smooth wood smoothie. Craving something metallic? Put a piece of metal with a cup of water in a Vita-Mix and tada! Metal smoothie all ready to drink. It’s an investment ($500 or so) but it will last you a lifetime.