After briefly trying to think of some recipes for “a healthier St. Patrick’s Day,” and coming up completely blank (let’s be frank, colcannon is delicious mostly because it’s loaded with butter and milk), it occurred to me that St. Pat’s is like Thanksgiving and that messing with the recipes is a bit blasphemous (just like those “Lighten Up Thanksgiving” magazine covers that seem to appear every year in November). I’d suggest eating your corned beef and fully enjoying your green beer (and Shamrock Shake if you must) without regrets.
So, instead, this seemed like as good a time as any to talk about green smoothies. Heck, they’re green, right? And, if nothing else, drinking one can be an anecdote to any over-indulging you happen to do tonight.
Drinking green smoothies is a habit that’s great for you, plus it’s pretty easy to incorporate into your life. All you need is a blender and some produce. I started drinking green smoothies after I got an awesome Ninja blender for Christmas (thanks Mom), and I’m totally addicted. But it took a little doing to figure out how to make them so they taste good and aren’t “chewy” — nothing worse than a liquid salad before 8 a.m..
First, a note about green smoothies vs. green juice. Last year, I got really excited about juicing and bought a fancy juicer. I loved the fruit & veggie juices we made in it — apple-carrot! cucumber-strawberry-lime! orange-tomato! — but after about 2 weeks of juicing, a few things occurred to me:
First, there is a LOT of waste! I attempted baking muffins and thickening soup with the piles of pulp we ended up with, but they were mostly pretty gross. It bummed me out to throw away that much food. Second, what a mess! Cleaning the juicer’s 500 parts was a fairly large job that had to be done right away. The thought of that quickly made me not want to mess with it, while rinsing the blender takes 5 seconds. Third, I believe it’s best to consume whole foods, and frankly juice is not a whole food. It’s actually just the sugar (and yes vitamins) from the fruit, but the pulp contains the fiber and that’s important for health, too. Fourth, I had heard juice is an effective vitamin-delivery system, and I’m sure that’s true, but a smoothie is a meal. Whenever I juiced, it was just a nice, tasty add-on but could never replace a meal. My smoothie is my breakfast.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure juicing is great for you, and if it fits into your lifestyle, definitely do it. If you ever come up with any delicious pulp recipes, please send them my way and maybe I’ll bust out the juicer again (tried to sell it on Craigslist and couldn’t, hmm).
In the meantime, here’s how to make a delicious, filling, and healthy green smoothie.
Green Breakfast Smoothie (This ingredients list is pretty loose so feel free to improvise)
1 large handful kale or spinach leaves, organic (a few stems are no problem)
1/2 cup organic coconut water, orange juice, or water (or any combination of these)
1 clementine or tangerine (or 1/3 cup cut pineapple)
1/4 cup strawberries or blueberries, organic (skip these if you don’t like your green smoothies to be brown)
2 tbs. plain Greek yogurt
1 tbs. raw almond butter
1 tbs. chia seeds (these add fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and a subtle tapioca-like texture)
1/2 banana (I actually don’t love bananas in my smoothies, but a lot of people do. You’ll probably have to eat the other half unless you double this, which is a very good idea actually.)
First (and this is the crucial step), put the greens and liquid in the blender and pulse 6-8 times until the greens are completely pulverized. Doing this before you add anything else makes sure you won’t be chewing on your smoothie. Then add the rest of the ingredients (again, by all means improvise) and about 1/4 cup crushed ice. Pulse again 8-10 times until smooth. Feel great for the rest of the day knowing you started the morning with a nice helping of green vegetables.