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Green Days
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Green Days

For the 29 days, I have been doing an experiment.  I have cut out all processed sugars from my diet – only “sweets” are fruits, and the occasional drip of agave nectar in my teacup.  I have done the sugar-less thing before, and it feels good to keep that addiction in check.

The sugar detox has provided a fun way to experiment with my tried and true smoothie recipes.  I have shared several ingredients over on Twitter and I got some good feedback, so I thought I would share a few recipes over here for good measure!

First thing to remember:  the key to green smoothies is the fresh ingredients!  With the warmer weather just around the corner, a lot of fresh greens will be available soon.  In the meantime, you can easily stock up at the market.  I use all sorts of greens for my smoothies – my three favorite bases are kale, wheat grass, and spinach.

Green Kale

And the beauty of kale?  there are so many varieties!  I love them all.  In my fridge now – and ready for their closeups are the green curly kale and the lacinato kale:

Lacinato Kale

I try to keep my smoothies heavy on the “green”, so I usually do at least a 2:1 ratio of green vegetable to fruit.  Of course, fruit is great for you too, but the point of a green smoothie is to pack a huge vitamin punch – and green leafy vegetables are the sure-fire way to do that.

Aside from the leafy vegetables, I also load up on other green veggies – like celery, cucumbers, assorted sprouts (lentil sprouts and sunflower seed sprouts have nice flavors) and some herbs – like spearmint or peppermint leaves.

For fruits, I like to add something creamy and a little thicker – my smoothies are usually my breakfast and mid-morning snack (two servings) so I want it to stick with me for awhile.  Bananas or avocados both provide the base for the whole smoothie.  For a touch of sweetness, I like to add one (maybe two) Medjool dates.  The choice of fruit is based on your own tastes – I like tropical flavors, so I often add mango, lychee, or pineapple.  I also like to add blueberries or strawberries.  Fruits like apples and pears can add some nice “bulk” to smoothies with their fibers, but their flavor is easily masked with all the greens.  When using apples and/or pears, I like to add a carrot, or a slice of ginger for some more taste.

Handful of Walnuts

When I want a protein boost, I add some nuts or nut butter – my favorites being walnuts or almond butter.  A little goes a long way, and the nuts also help the smoothie stay with you longer and keep away the hungry growling stomach!

And finally – you need a liquid to bring it all together.  There is always water (I often use ice cubes because many smoothies just taste better to me “chilled”), and my other options are almond milk and coconut water.  You don’t need a lot of liquid, because the fruits and veggies do liquefy, but they have to have something to start with!

My “recipes” are really just based on trials that I have done and enjoyed.  I encourage you to do the same!   Please note: You do need a good blender to make green smoothies!  If your blender doesn’t cut the greens up and turn the smoothie a light to medium green (sometimes even dark green) color – you may have a hard time with the texture.  Greens can be a bit stringy, and if you don’t have a taste for that, your “gag reflex” may kick in.  I use my Vita-Mix for all my smoothies, and it is one of my most prized possessions (seriously. I want to take it on vacation with me!)

I haven’t noted any yields because a lot depends on the size and juiciness of the fruits/veggies you are using.  Green smoothies are easy to “eyeball”.  I make a double batch and split into two servings: breakfast and morning snack.  I usually use a 20 oz. cup and put leftover in a pint-sized Mason jar and take it with me to work (stored in refrigerator for later)

Tropical Green

1 banana (frozen or fresh)

3 or 4 leaves of kale

1 small cucumber

1 stalk celery

1 Medjool date

1/2 c diced mango (frozen works too!)

1/2 c coconut water

1 small “nub” of ginger (no more than 1/4″ – little goes a long way!)

1/2 c ice cubes

- add all ingredients to blender and turn on high until all ingredients are well blended.  May need to stop and stir in the middle and start again, depending on blender.

Minty Berry

1 avocado (pitted and skin removed)

2 handfuls of loose-leaf spinach (including stems)

1 c wheat grass

1 cucumber

1 Medjool date

2 springs mint (you can de-stem if the stem is “woody”)

1/2 – 3/4 c almond milk

1 c frozen strawberries

Sweet Sprouts

1 banana

1 pear, halved and seeds removed

3/4 cup assorted sprouts (lentil, broccoli, sunflower, sesame)

3 leaves of kale

1/2 c almonds (soaked in water for about 30 minutes prior)

3/4 c almond milk

1 squirt of agave nectar

1/2 c frozen peaches

Do you have a favorite green smoothie recipe to share?  I am always up for trying something new!  If you start to experiment with some, let me know what you are trying!

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22 Responses

  1. Leslie

    Yea! I’ve been waiting for this post! I love green smoothies too! In addition to ingredients you mentioned, I sometimes add goji berries, acai frozen packets (Whole Foods has them), cinnamon, bee pollen (not vegan, obviously) and/or a bit of black strap molasses (has tons of iron). I love, love, love adding medjool dates – they are so yummy!!!

  2. Laura

    I was so excited to see this post! I have been working this month on eating more brightly colored veggies, and kale and other leafy greens are my favorites. I’ve just started making green smoothies, and I LOVE them! Starting the day with something green just feels great. I hadn’t thought of adding nuts or dates; I will be sure to do that!

  3. Beverly

    I’m inspired to see what my blender can handle! These sound delish!

  4. Rae

    I love eating greens like crazy but I never thought to make smoothies with green maybe I will have to try that one day. I am thinking about giving up sugar myself did you read any books that made it easier to cut out sugar ?

  5. Miss Scarlett

    You are really inspiring! I am going to have to pick up some kale and give green smoothies another go tomorrow.
    The recipe I had tried had no fruit in it at all – and that concoction was gag worthy!
    I have quite a few figs on hand so…I might pop a few of those in for a fruity sweetener.

    Good for you for cutting out sugar!
    I did that a few years back when I was really ill and I felt fantastic for it. Gradually I let the sugar creep back into my diet.

    Right now I am cutting out all processed foods out of my life. I have been amazed at how many of the things I was buying had sulphites or corn syrup in them. Once I get a handle on that perhaps I will try cutting sugar out again.

    Thanks for the great recipes.

  6. Josiane

    I had the opportunity to try a raw food restaurant this past weekend in Montreal and one of the things I had was a green smoothie. The ingredients as listed on the menu were: kale, parsley, pineapple, banana and hemp milk. It was great! They also have a green juice on the menu (ingredients listed: kale, parsley, fennel, apple, celery, lemon and ginger) which I’ll have to try next time I go there.
    I’m getting closer and closer to treating myself to a Vitamix…

  7. Seanna Lea

    I don’t really have a blender (a food processor just isn’t the same thing) and am just not that interested in smoothies, but I am super interested in keeping my sugar addiction in check. I’m a super sweet addict, so it is hard to cut out sweets for an entire day much less a week or more.

  8. Jessica

    Thanks for sharing these! I’ve been doing a little experimenting myself with something similar lately. I don’t have a good blender but I do have a stick blender/mixer thingy (what the heck do you call those?!) that seems to hold up well. I’ve been using mostly baby spinach for my greens and add a bit of silken tofu for protein. Blueberries, banana, OJ, soy milk and frozen mango have all been added in one way or another. I think even just the baby spinach and blue berries would be enough some times. I like the idea of adding nut butters too! Thanks for the tips!

  9. Sung-Ji

    Lauren, thanks so much for reminding me of Green Juice! I’ve been feeling pretty blah in the mornings and now I realize just what I was missing.

    I have a hand cranked juicer (not at all fancy, kind of a pain to clean) but it works great. My concoction: kale, sunflower sprouts, parsley, cucumber and pear. You inspired me to make some this morning.

  10. Jill

    I love green smoothies I keep mine pretty basic:
    kale or spinach
    8 oz coconut water + a little rice milk (I like mine very liquidy)
    1/2 frozen banana
    1/4 avocado
    small handful blueberries
    2 slices of frozen peach
    if I have other stuff on hand (usually pears or strawberries), I might swap out the blueberries or peach. Oh and I love a squeeze of lime or lemon if I have one on hand. I take my smoothie with me to work in a glass peanut butter jar and this recipe pretty much fills up that jar perfectly.

    Sometimes for dessert I whip up a smoothie with a frozen banana, a couple dates, a spoonful of cocoa powder, and rice or almond milk. Its like chocolate banana ice cream and sooo yummy.

  11. k

    thanks for the great recipes – i think my smoothies are usually more fruit-based so these are good tips for me to get some more nutrients in there. since i love kale and sprouts it shouldn’t be all that hard. i also like to add in a bit of ground chia/flax mix that i keep in the freezer to add some good omegas and other vitamins into the smoothie

  12. Jenna

    Yum, thanks for sharing! I’m always excited to find new ways to incorporate whole foods into my diet, especially veggies for breakfast, so your tips here are great. At this time of year, greens are one of the few bits of fresh produce you can get at the farmer’s market, so it’s a total win! Have you tried kale chips? So easy to make and irresistible to anyone who tastes them. Hope being sugar-free is helping you feel great! xoxo

  13. nova

    While I think it’s impossible for me to do something like this for a long period of time, I think I might try something similar to your experiment for a week. I have been thinking that something like this would be a nice pick me up and help with energy and whatnot…but I think I would miss carbs too much to do it for longer… but you have me thinking!

  14. Rowena Philbeck

    I saw on Dr. OZ his famous drink. Fresh Beets, carrots and an apple. That is it. Mix in your drink and packed with loads of vitamins. I am going to try this soon. The sweetness is from the apple. People say that its good. Thought I would mention it.

    I have to try your recipes but I just have a regular blender. I also saw online about Kale chips with just little seasoning and olive oil. Haven’t tried those but they look interesting. Have fun with all your fresh mixing.

  15. Miss Scarlett

    Drinking a kale and peach smoothie right now and guess what…I love it!
    I kept it simple and just have kale, peach slices and dates with my milk — I am going to use almond milk next time for more flavour.
    I did wimp out a little and only used 1 large leaf of kale but I think that’s pretty good for a ‘beginner’.

    Thanks for the new recipes!

  16. Moni

    Thank you so much for posting these! Your twitter posts inspired me to make my own. It’s been super fun to experiment and try different things in my morning smoothie. I’ll have to try your recipes!

  17. Hilary

    Ooooh, cool! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and experiences with both smoothie-making and eliminating processed sugar! You are an inspiration. :) And I am definitely going to try some of those smoothies. Yum.

  18. Allison

    I don’t know if my cheap old blender is up to this much excitement, but your recipes sound great and I’m definitely going to try at least one this weekend!

  19. Stacey

    My blender SUCKS. But still, I should try a little more variety with my smoothies. Thanks for writing up a post for inspiration!

  20. Karen M

    I make green smoothies several times a week. I use what I have as a guideline, but they seem to be similar to yours. Kale and spinach are generally the ‘must have’ part, and the fruit varies. One thing that I often do is use any iced tea, either black or green and usually decaf, that I have in the fridge instead of water. I think the tea adds a ‘brightness’ to the drink that I really like.

  21. Mai

    Thank you so much. I have had green smoothies before, but your recipes seemed to be more exciting and tasty. I will definitely try these.

  22. Cristina

    Thanks for these recipes. My weekday-morning-hurry standby recipe goes something like this: cram the blender pitcher with organic baby spinach; add a fresh, peeled banana; pour in a half cup of freshly squeezed orange juice or a handful of frozen raspberries and puree; add water until it looks pourable.

    Does the Vitamix even handle kale stems, or do you cut those out from the leaf?

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