Green Smoothies

The idea of smoothies is not a new one.  The whole point with green smoothies is adding healthy greens to your diet, which perhaps many of us rarely eat.

Blended smoothies provide live enzymes, vitamins and minerals.  These nutrients are easily assimilated and quickly digested.  They help with cleansing and healing the body.  They are extremely alkaline, which makes them idea for balancing acidic foods (meat, daily, grains).  If you're not convinced yet, green smoothies are also delicious and very easy to prepare.

Greens provide protein, insoluble fiber, omega-3 and chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll is what gives greens their color and sometimes is referred to as liquefied sun energy.  The molecule of chlorophyll is similar to the heme molecule in human blood.  It supplies the body with oxygen, builds red blood cell count, helps prevent against cancer, provides iron, makes the body more alkaline, counteracts toxins, helps cleanse the liver, eliminates body odor, eliminates bad breath, and so much more.

According to raw food diet experts, greens contain all the essential minerals, vitamins and even amino acids (the building blocks of protein molecule) that humans need for optimal health.  The only nutrient not found in greens is vitamin B12, which is most abundant in animal products (meat, eggs, dairy).

Greens are naturally high in cellulose, which makes them difficult to digest and absorb. One would have to thoroughly chew and greens and have sufficient stomach acid for complete digestion and absorption to take place.  In general people don’t chew their food well and tend to have low stomach acid due to mineral deficiencies, particularly zinc. Liquefying the greens in a smoothie takes care of these shortcomings.

Green leaves contain different kinds of alkaloids, compounds which are poisonous in large amounts, however, in small quantities can actually strengthen the immune system.  It’s really important to rotate the type of greens you use to avoid accumulating the same type of alkaloids. Try to get as much variety as possible.  It is not necessary to rotate the fruits however doing so will enhance the variety of flavor and nutrition provided.

On the question regarding juicing vs. blending: juice requires little digesting and is absorbed immediately into the bloodstream.  There’s a place and time for juicing but it’s missing an important nutrient – fiber.  Fiber helps to clean out built-up toxins in your body by improving elimination.

Vegetables divide into several different groups of plant food for example, roots (carrots, beets, radish, etc.), flowers (broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, etc.), and non-sweet fruit (avocado, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.).  Greens are not vegetables; they are in a category all by themselves.  

Green smoothies should be made with a combination of greens and fruits (sweet or non-sweet). Do not combine greens with vegetables as most contain too much starch. Vegetables such as carrots, beets, broccoli, zucchini, daikon radish, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, eggplant, pumpkin, squash, peas, corn, and green beans are not suitable for smoothies due to their high starch content, which will cause fermentation and gas formation to occur.

Non-starchy vegetable (or non-sweet fruits) such as tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocados, and celery are okay.  Low-glycemic sweet fruits are also great and include berries, cherries, apples, plums, and grapefruit.

It is not recommend to add anything else (nuts, seeds, protein supplements) to a green smoothie.  All you need are greens, fruit, water and a small amount of oil, to aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals found in the greens.  Other additives will slow down digestion and may cause irritation and gas.

To get the most nutritional benefit, drink your green smoothie by itself and not as part of a meal. I normally drink mine in the morning, following a glass of water with lemon juice, before breakfast.  It’s also important to “chew” your smoothie.  Sip it slowly, allowing it to mix with saliva for better absorption.

Choose organic, locally grown and/or homegrown produce whenever possible.  This way you will avoid loading your body with pesticides and other toxic chemicals.  When using organic produce, don’t peel fruits and blend apples and pears with seeds.

I highly recommend using the most powerful blender you can find, to ensure smooth consistency and better absorption.  Otherwise, cut up your ingredients into smaller pieces and increase blending time.

I don’t like following green smoothie recipes as I always end up with a lot more than I can drink. Also many of the recipes are overly sweet for my taste.  You can definitely look up recipes for inspirations, but the best way to find out what combinations you like best is by experimenting!

My smoothie always consists of purified water (just enough to blend well and create a smooth consistency), handful of 1 – 2 type of greens, 1 – 2 types of herbs, 1 – 2 fruit varieties (mostly berries), 1 tablespoon of oil (olive or coconut), slice of avocado, and lemon juice.  You can also try a savory smoothie with greens, cucumber, celery, tomato, small garlic clove and pinch of sea salt.

Here is a basic road map to preparing a delicious green smoothie!

Plain purified water.  

Arugula, beet greens (tops), carrot tops, celery, chard, collard greens, dandelion, endive, escarole, kale, mustard greens, radicchio, radish tops, lettuce (green, red, romaine), turnip greens spinach, sorrel, watercress, etc.
Herbs:  dill, basil, cilantro, fennel tops, mint, parsley

Apricots, apples, banana, berries, cucumbers, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, lemons, limes, mango, oranges, papaya, pears, peaches, pineapple, plums, tomatoes, etc.

Avocado, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, flax seed oil

Ginger, sprouts, wheatgrass juice (fresh or powdered), kefir.

If you need to, start with more fruit at first but work your way up to the maximum green content – that’s the point (2 parts greens to 1 part fruit are good proportions).  Also use spinach and/or romaine lettuce when starting out, since these are mild greens and will be less noticeable.  Green smoothies are best consumed fresh, but some can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. If separation occurs, simply stir before drinking.  For maximum nutritional benefit and flavor, I prefer to drink mine right away.