What is a Green Smoothie?
You’ve probably seen your friends or co-workers sipping on a glass of green, pulpy liquid and thought ewww, why would anyone want to drink that?! And who puts spinach in a smoothie? I assure you it’s not as awful as it seems. The greens are barely noticeable and green smoothies are a quick and easy way to get large amounts of fruits and leafy greens into your diet: something we all need.
In a nutshell, a green smoothie is a smoothie made with fresh fruits and dark, leafy greens. The leafy greens can be spinach, kale, chard, collards, etc (or a combination of greens). The fruit and veggie combo is then pureed with a liquid (natural juices or some other non-dairy option) into a delicious and healthy concoction.
Why Grow Your Own
It’s easy to head to the store and pick up a bag of mixed greens and frozen fruit. There’s nothing wrong with that option. As a gardener, I am here to convince you that greens, especially the ones often used in green smoothies, are some of the easiest vegetables to grow. If you are renting or do not have much space, no worries. These fruits and veggies grow well in containers and need not to take up much space.
I am a avid supporter of growing what you eat. In doing so, you have complete control over what goes into your food, thus what goes into your body. With all the pesticide laden produce lining the grocery store shelves and the exorbitant cost of organic vegetables, growing your own is a great option. Plus, homegrown produce is food in its freshest form; it’s tastier and packed with more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
What to Grow
Most of the produce I like to put in my smoothies are berries (blueberry, strawberries or blackberries) and spinach or a mesclun mix. These are easy fruit and veggies to start with if you are new to gardening.
Berries, for the most part, are relatively simple to grow. Many fruits like apples and peaches are location specific and require a lot of work to grow. Berries can grow almost anywhere. Strawberries adapt well to container life and can produce a good amount of fruit in a small space. Blueberries come in dwarf (perfect for containers) and larger shrub forms. I suggest these two berry plants to get started. They are low maintenance fruit plants that give a bountiful yield.
It wouldn’t be a green smoothie without the green stuff! Shoot for the dark, leafy varieties. This is what packs the greatest nutritional punch in your smoothie. Kale, spinach,dandelion, romaine…all are great options. If you really don’t want to buy so many different seeds, grab a mesclun mix that includes many of these greens.
Star from seeds? Yes. Don’t bother buying starter plants at your local nursery. These plants germinate fast and you can have fresh greens ready to eat as soon as they are a couple of inches tall (typically in less than a month). Greens are cool weather plants. If you live an a warm area (like we do) you will have to grow them in an area that gets some shade during the height of summer.
How to Make a Green Smoothie
Making a green smoothie is simple. The basic formula is:
1 cup leafy green + 1 cup liquid base + 2 cups of fruit
The liquid base can be any fruit juice, water, or coconut water, almond or soy milk (typically a nondairy base). For the fruit, use can some frozen fruit or any ripe fruit. I like to use the berries I freeze from our blueberry bush every summer.
Throw all three ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Adjust with more liquid if the smoothie seems too thick. Add other boosters like chia seeds, flax seeds or spices if you want. I sneak in some flax seeds when I making smoothies for the kids.
Now, sit back and enjoy your healthy drink 🙂