It will soon be 19 months since the beginning of the green smoothie revolution in my life. I have been enjoying it so far. More importantly, my kids enjoy it too.

The daily habit

As a family we drink a green smoothie every day. The only exception was our recent travel, where I found it too complicated to stick to the green smoothie habit. Nevertheless, these two weeks brought me valuable lessons.

First, after a few days, I began to experience strong sweet cravings and had to deal with them daily. (As a result I ate a number of cakes.) Secondly, I discovered I really missed the sweet-bitter, yet satisfying taste of a green smoothie. Thirdly, after being back, my kids welcomed the green smoothie drink with joy and a demand for more. This was a surprise for me and a sign they missed that too!

Sweet cravings are explained by Victoria Boutenko as an insufficient intake of calcium. Calcium is sweet. And even though you may think you drink milk and eat vast amounts of diary, there is more and more evidence that calcium from milk or cheese is not as easily absorbed as we want it to believe. Moreover the mucus forming feature of milk as well as pasteurization likely make milk more problematic for our health than valuable (see e.g. at the study which shows that pasteurized milk has a carcinogenic effect). In the end, calcium in the milk should come  from the grass or hay that cows eat 😉

Leafy greens are great

Leafy greens are a wonderful natural food we can eat, enjoy and prosper from. They are the most nutrient dense of all vegetables. Green dark leaves provide most of the nutritients and minerals we require. They contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, folate, vitamins A,C,K1 and B1 and so on. They also contain fibre which is a natural aid in digestion. And what is even more important, they have the energy of life, preserved in chlorophyll that makes them green.

Chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and uses its energy to synthesise carbohydrates from CO2 and water. What I find surprising is that chlorophyll is chemically and structurally similar to heme in a haemoglobin in human red blood cells. The basic difference is about the atom at the center. In chlorophyll, this central atom is magnesium, while in blood, this central atom is iron. Chlorophyll acts positively on human health, but more research needs to be done.

When we cook leafy greens we will loose lots of their natural nutritional value. Eating them raw is the best option but it requires a substantial amount of chewing and doesn’t taste that well. Eating them raw is not appealing to many. A green smoothie drink is the solution. It provides us with a pleasurable way to substantially increase the intake of green dark leaves in our diets.

How to enhance the green smoothie even more

Sesame seeds and flaxseeds

I add sesame seeds and flaxseeds (linseeds) to the green smoothie I prepare. Although some people recommend to stick to the basic recipes: fruits + leafy greens + water/coconut water, I only experience benefits from adding these seeds. I use approximately a tablespoon of seeds per person in the making.

Sesame seeds are a very good source of manganese and copper as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and zinc Flaxseeds are rich in minerals, but they do not contain calcium. Instead, they are rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat that is a precursor to the form of omega-3 found in fish oils (EPA).

I soak both seeds overnight in warm water in the room temperature, at least 10h before blending them together with smoothie ingredients. Many people use shorter times (4-6h), but an overnight soaking fits well into my routine. I use twice as much water as seeds.

The soaking of seeds is very important

Although seeds, nuts and legumes are rich in nutrients and enzymes, they also contain phytic acid. This phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, and especially iron and zinc in the intestinal track and inhibit their absorption. In addition, it also contains enzyme inhibitors that also work to block the absorption of minerals. Finally, phytic acid, is indigestible by humans.

In nature, phytic acid has a specific role. It simply acts to protect the seed until proper conditions (moisture and sunlight) are met for it to grow and sprout. Once soaked, the phytic acid is deactivated and released into the water, and the enzymes and minerals in the food are more readily available for absorption into our bodies. Studies, at least for beans, confirm that soaking is more efficient than cooking or sprouting. As a result of soaking, your body can absorb much, much more vitamins and minerals from leafy greens, fruits and seeds than without soaking. A simple technique of soaking and so much beneficial!

Other additives

In green smoothie making I also use hemp seeds, chlorella powder or some seaweeds such as dulse (no, you don’t taste it in the smoothie). I do it sometimes. I also experimented with adding flaxseed oil, walnut oil or coconut oil, but my family did not find the combination that great. They felt it was too heavy for their stomachs.

Is green smoothie for you?

If you are wondering whether a green smoothie is for you or not – I want to encourage you to taste it. No reading and thinking about green smoothie is going to give you sufficient evidence in favor or against. Opinions differs as well as tastes. What you need is a direct experience. Simply make a green smoothie yourself and drink it.

Even if you don’t have a powerful blender or the best green smoothie blender such as Omni blender or Blendtec blender, a mid-price blender from the Hamilton Beach brands or the KitchenAid blenders will allow you to make a decent green smoothie provided that you stick to easy greens such as spinach or rocket leaves and follow a suitable blending procedure as detailed here. A hand-blender will not make it work, I must warn you, as you will get a lumpy liquid.

There are basically two main factors determining how successful a blender is: the motor power (> 500 Watts, ideally more than 700 Watts) and the blade length (the longer the better). But again, even a poor blender will give you a rough idea and a basic taste.

The simplest green smoothie recipe

  • 1 big ripe banana (or two small ones)
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 0.5-1 cup water

Blend it!

Your ideal proportion is 60% of fruit (or fruit + vegetables such as cucumbers, celery sticks, carrot etc) and 40% of leafy greens.

Who is green smoothie for?

In general, green smoothie is for everybody. I introduced the basic green smoothie to my kids at the age of 6 months. They have loved it ever since.

What you need to know, however, is that raw leafy greens require a working liver and the whole digestion system. So, you need to take care  if you suffer from indigestion, irritable bowels syndrome, poorly working liver or pancreas.  Green smoothie may impose a challenge for your internal organs. But, again, my friend whose liver is in a poor condition, drinks green smoothies daily. Her body easily enjoys spinach, rocket, watercress, dandelion leaves, or parsley, but she finds raw kale, broccoli, celery sticks or carrot troublesome. So, she avoids them. All in all, what you need to do is to drink the green smoothie and observe its effects during the day and the day after.

Start slowly and build it up

Short term: buy or borrow a mid-price blender if you don’t have one at home. Even if you have the simplest blender possible at home – give it a go. Make a green smoothie and drink it every morning at least 30min before eating. Again, if you are an evening person, drink it in the evening, ideally 30-60min before the meal time or at least 1h after.  Evaluate how you feel during a day (or the next day).

Long term: In a long run, the quality of the green smoothie makes a difference, not only in the taste, but actually in your willingness to make it and drink it frequently or set up a habit. It is all about the time efficiency and the fun of making it (smooth, easy, fast). I’m sure I would not stick to the daily habit with a poor blender.

So, if you like a green smoothie, my advice is to buy the best blender you can afford.

Start slowly: Again, if you want to start a daily habit of green smoothie – you need to start it slowly. Start with 10-15% of leafy greens and build it up to 40%. Alternate at least two leafy greens, say spinach and parsley (or lettuce, romain lettuce, rocket, etc).  Do it for a week at least, ideally for a month. Make notes. Evaluate.

It may take up to a week or two for your body to adjust to ingesting raw leafy greens especially if you don’t regularly eat raw vegetables. This may include effects of a mild detox such as headaches, chills and even a mild cold. The strength of the effects is correlated with the amount of pre-processed (cooked, steamed, baked, or otherwise treated by a high temperature) food in your diet. For this reason, it may take two weeks before you observe the real benefits of drinking green smoothie. But, you may also see the advantages after the first drink. Be patient.

Final words

What stops you from taking action? You likely have a blender at home. Even a poor blender will give you an idea how the green smoothie may taste.

Select the basic recipe above or an appealing green smoothie recipe and make it a drink. Today. The time for a change is always NOW.

****

Other posts on green smoothies and raw food

 


Green smoothie is an energizing drink made from blended fruit, raw leafy greens and water. It is a simple way to eat high-nutrient vegetables with joy and ease. You can also prepare raw green soups which, in addition, include non-starchy vegetables and/or herbs.

Please read previous posts on how to make a green smoothie and choose a blender. Here I will present some tasty green smoothie recipes. Have fun experimenting and design your own recipes.

Best green smoothie recipes

1 cup = 250 ml (8.5oz)

For the apples I often choose the Golden, Gala or Fuji kinds. My favorite pears for smoothie is Conference.

Balance-me-out
1 large mango
1 cup kale
1 cup water

Yammy berries
2 ripe bananas
1 cup blueberries  
2 cups spinach
1 cup water

Perfect day
1-2 ripe bananas
0.5 avocado
2 apples
2 cups of spinach 
1 cup water
See point 1) below.

Morning kick
2 peaches
0.5 pineapple
1 cup spinach
5 romaine lettuce leaves    
1 cm fresh ginger root
0.5 cup water

Parsley love
1 large ripe banana
1 apple  
1 cucumber
1 cup fresh parsley    
1 cup water

Energize-me
2-3 cups papaya
1 big apple
2 cups baby spinach 
1 carrot, chopped (optional)    
0.5 cup water

Rocket-me
2-3 mangoes
2 cups rocket leaves
0.5 cup spinach
1 cup water

Delightful
3 cups papaya
3 cups flat parsley
Water not needed
Refresh-me
2 cups pineapple
1 cup blueberries
2 cups watercress
0.5 cup water
Kale-Watermelon Detox
1 banana
1 carrot, chopped
1 orange
2 cups watermelon
3 cups kale
1 cup water

Parsley-pear passion
4 pears
2 cups parsley
1 cup water

Coriander detox
1 cucumber
1 small avocado
1 stalk celery
0.5 lime, juiced
1 clove garlic
2 cups coriander
0.5 cup water

I-want-to-recover
2 pears
2 small oranges
2 cups kale
0.5 lemon, juiced
0.5 cup water

Soup Gazpacho by
Victoria Boutenko
3 large tomatoes
1 large avocado
2 stalks celery
1 red bell pepper
1 lime, juiced
1 bunch basil
1 cup kale
1 cup water

Thai Soup by
Sergei Boutenko
2 cucumbers
1 large avocado
1 lime, juiced
3 cloves garlic
1 cm raw ginger root
1 cup kale
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 cups water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leafy greens from plain to strong

Leafy greens vary a lot in flavor and taste. My personal scale from mild to strong is:

  • baby spinach (the mildest)
  • spinach
  • dandelion leaves
  • romaine lettuce
  • flat parsley
  • lettuce
  • bunched parsley
  • grape leaves
  • kale
  • chard
  • rocket leaves
  • watercress
  • dill
  • basil
  • coriander (cilantro)
  • sorrel (the strongest sour taste).

So, if you want to start as blend as possible, start with spinach or romaine lettuce. I love strong tastes so I am happy with watercress or coriander. However, I notice that my kids are not so keen on smoothies with such strong tastes. I love the greens soups as well, but again, my family likes them less.

Basic guidelines

  1. Green smoothie: 60% fruit + 40% leafy greens.
    Use bananas, avocados or mangos as a base if you want a good texture and a satisfying drink. Some raw foodists claim that avocado (that includes fat) does not combine well with sweet fruits and it is the best to combine it with leafy greens, non-starchy vegs or non-sweet fruits. Do your own research or experiment.
  2. Green soup: 60% vegs and fruit  + 40% leafy greens.
    Use and mix basic fruits (apple, pear) and non-starchy vegetables. These include:
    • broccoli
    • brussel sprouts
    • cabbage
    • carrots
    • cauliflower
    • celery
    • chicory
    • cucumber
    • eggplant
    • kohlrabi
    • leeks
    • onions
    • parsley
    • peppers
    • radishes
    • summer squash
    • tomato
    • turnip, or
    • zucchini. 
      Cucumber, celery, summer squash or zucchini mix well with nearly any fruit.
  3. Use frozen fruits such as mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries or other berries. Bananas and avocado can be frozen as well. Frozen fruits work well in green smoothies and are often cheaper than the fresh ones.
  4. Drink your green smoothie on empty stomach and leave some time before you consume a meal afterwards (say 40-50min).
  5. Eat your green smoothie, i.e. chew every sip. Keep every sip of green smoothie in your mouth for a while so that the enzymes start their work to aid digestion. It is for the best assimilation of the ingredients.
  6. Add sprouted beans, or other sprouted seeds for additional nutrients. It is an easy way to power up your nutrients intake. And more importantly, the greens you are adding are alive.
  7. Add little or no water if your blender can handle it. Start with blending fruits first. Then add leafy greens.
  8. Use coconut water to juice from fresh fruits instead of water.
  9. Drink maximum 1 liter smoothies daily. I am not a strong advocate of drinking only smoothies or juices although there are people whose diet constitutes of only that. I believe that we are given teeth for purpose and it is important we use our teeth daily as well.

Mild detox is possible

Please start with one smoothie a day and with small amount of leafy greens. Build it up.

Green smoothies contain high levels of nutrients, enzymes, fiber, and some protein. They are known to remove toxins from your body. Kale, coriander (cilantro) and parsley are especially good for this. It is therefore common to experience some mild side effects that may include headache, or a general fatigue, aching, pre-cold symptoms (sore throat, feeling chilly, running nose, body aches), changes in bowel movements (perhaps diarrhea), rashes or acne breakouts. This happens within the first week or two weeks after you start drinking green smoothies daily.

Persevere as these side effects will not last and you will soon feel great. I personally experienced some cold symptoms.

You need to actually rejoice when you notice any of these side effects while drinking green smoothies. It proves leafy greens are doing their job. Soon, the daily smoothie will contribute to an increase of energy, little or zero sweet cravings, increase in energy, healthier skin, regular bowel movements, and a more regular digestive system.

Surprise yourself and make a green smoothie today!

***

If you have some questions or concerns concerning green smoothies, please consult a nutritionist, or better expert (high-) raw foodists such as Angela and Matt MonarchDavid WolfeGreen smoothie girl, etc.

 

A series on green smoothies

***

I am glad you are here, because it tells me you like the idea of green smoothies. Yay! Great news.

Daily green smoothie is a simple and healthy habit that can change your whole life experience. In the previous post I give arguments why green smoothie is a fantastic way to incorporate more greens in your life and become an energized and healthier person as a result. In the movie below Sergei Boutenko demonstrates how to make a delicious smoothie. It is based on the concepts from the Green for Life book written by his mother, an originator of green smoothies. First, he talks about some principles, then in the last 2 minutes he shows how such a smoothie is made.

See also http://www.rawfamily.com. Here we will focus on the blenders.

Blenders

Any blender will mix fruit and vegetables together to make a smoothie, or a kind of smoothie. As usual, the devil lies in the details. The difference between blenders is in the following aspects:

  • preparation: the amount of work such as peeling fruits, cutting leafy greens into pieces, etc
  • quality of the final result: smoothness or how much pieces of fiber are left out unblended
  • ease of use
  • durability and sustainability
  • cleaning time

Best green smoothie blenders

The best blender will allow you to make fantastic smoothies easily and fast. The most powerful blenders include VitaMix and BlendTec brands. They are very expensive, though. A much cheaper yet a great possibility offers the Omni blender. This is the latest blender added to the family of the so-called 3-horse power, powerful blenders. It seems the best value for money. If you want a powerful blender, Omni may be the right choice. 

What makes the VitaMixBlendTec and Omni blenders so good?

Their optimal design for heavy duty and daily use.

These blenders are also multi-functional. Not only make they smoothies and green smoothies, but also ice-cream, warm soups (yes, BlendTec can produce warm soups from cold water), nut butters, sauces, drinks, doughs, cake mixes, and so on. In addition, they can grind coffee beans and seeds. These are simply professional machines so you can rely on them for a long term use.

Have you ever wanted to have a fresh peanut butter, tahini, raw halva, almond milk, sesame milk or raw ice-cream (made from almond milk, peanut butter, dates and maple sirup)? Now, you can easily make them. And they are delicious.

Mid-priced blenders

If you cannot spend a few hundred dollars/euro/pounds on a blender, you may start with a decent mid-priced blender, usually in the 50-100 $/EUR/GBP range. Such blenders will let you start experimenting with delicious smoothies without too much pondering over the expensive blenders. Just have fun.

Mid-priced blenders are generally well-equipped for making great milk shakes or soft fruit smoothies. They are not necessary capable of blending hard leafy greens well such as kale, parsley leaves or chard. They will work better with spinach, rocket leaves, lettuce, baby spinach or coriander. Still, you will need an extra care and a right blending strategy to prevent the motor from burning.

Be aware that mid-priced blenders save you money in the short term, but many people report how fast they wear out when they commit to daily use. There is a chance you will need to replace your 50-100 $/EUR/GBP blender soon after you commit to daily green smoothie, either because the motor will burn out or you will outgrow its capabilities. Look at my tips below to ensure the blender you choose lasts for some time.

How to choose your mid-priced blender

If you are unsure whether you will stick to green smoothies or not, or you cannot afford the high-end blender yet, a mid-priced blender will help you start small and keep experimenting. Follow the strategies below to make sure that the blender is right for the task.

If you like green smoothies and want to establish a daily habit, buy a high-end blender. It makes the whole experience, both making the smoothie and enjoying the result, just smooth and easy. And the blender should last for years.

Tip #1. Learn about blenders.

The best strategy is to go to a home appliances shop and investigate example blenders yourself. See how they differ in the blade lengths, bottom area, container volume, speeds, size, etc. Inspecting the blenders visually will give you a better idea of how they may work and what is that you want. For instance, some of the blenders are huge and may be impractical to fit in your kitchen.

Look at blenders’ specs and reviews on the Amazon site as well as the sites of other online retailers. Compare them to the BlendTec and VitaMix brands. After learning basic ideas about various blenders, you can perfectly buy your blender online. It is usually cheaper than in a regular shop. The differences in the making will contribute to the ease and speed of producing green smoothies.

Tip #2. Look for these qualities in your blender (sorted from most important to less important):

  • High-powered motor. 700 watts or more (preferably 1000 watts or more). You need a high rotation speed to liquefy the fruits and vegs efficiently.
  • Long stainless blade. The longer the better. Ideally, the blade should be 4-5cm long at least. The longer the blade, the easier the blending process is.
  • Ice-crushing possibility. You want to handle ice and  frozen fruit well. In addition ice-crushing usually indicates a more powerful motor, too.
  • Two or more blending speeds and a pulse. Pulse is a must. You want to control how fast you can go with the processing of the ingredients. You will need different speeds for leafy greens and fruit. You will rely on pulse to start the blending.
  • Secured lid.
  • Large container / pitcher, preferably BPA-free plastic, for durability and easy cleaning. I recommend plastic containers as I had an accident with the glass one – see the note below. High-end blenders use specially designed plastic containers and they are good. Even if you are alone or have a small family, it makes sense to buy a blender with a big container. You may happily experiment with making larger amounts of smoothie (green smoothie, milkshakes and others)  or you may invite friends for smoothie tasting. Choose a container of mimim 1-1.2 litre (50-60 ounces).
  • Wide bottom of the container. With a wide bottom, the blades can work efficiently and a better blending vortex is being created.
  • Wide skid-proof base. This is for stability. When you are blending on a high speed, the base may start sliding across your counter unless you are holding it tight or you got a blender with a solid foundation.
  • Guarantee and return possibility.

Tip #3. Choose the best blender you can afford and buy it online.

Good mid-priced blenders suitable for making green smoothies come from the KitchenAid and Hamilton Beach brands. However, they often rely on the motor power of 500 watts. Choose more watts if possible. A blender that seems a good match for making green smoothies is any of the KitchenAid 5-speed blenders. They are quite powerful (around 700 watts) and are multi-functional (chop, mix, blend etc).  I have not used any of these, but available reviews tell me they are sturdy and capable blenders. I personally had some experience with a few mid-range Braun, Kenwood and similar blenders, but I was not too happy about them.

When I was on holiday, I ordered a mid-priced blender for my family. I had used it for three weeks and I was quite pleased with it. It cannot compare to my BlendTec but it was capable of making good smoothies from non-hard leafy greens, such as spinach, rocket, lettuce and so on.

In addition to your blender, you may also like to use a cheap coffee grinder so that you can grind  sesame seeds, linseed or fresh spices. You can add them to enrich your green smoothie experience.

Tips for an effective use of your mid-priced blender

If a powerful blender is not yet possible for you, do not worry. You can still make great green smoothie if you follow the suggestions below.

  1. Start with water first and then add other ingredients. Water is the medium that helps to create a vortex that pulls fruit and leafy greens into the blades. Start with 0.5-1 cup water, depending on your blender and how much smoothie you want to make.
  2. Add your fruit second. ALWAYS add fruit before leafy greens. Leafy greens tend to get stuck into blades, especially if they are short or when the bottom of the container is narrow (which is often the case for many blenders). Fruit will help to create a better vortex. If you use a liquid-rich soft fruit, such as papaya or pineapple, you may need much less water or no water at all.
  3. Add ice third if you want (use less water when you add ice).
  4. Finally, add your leafy greens.
  5. Cut your fruits into pieces and shred your greens. Mid-range blenders may get trouble to handle big chunks of fruits or leaves.
  6. Use the PULSE button to get started. Press it a few times for a few seconds.  It is really important.  The pulse gives the ingredients the kick to get things going. It will break up large pieces into small ones and dislodge pieces that may get stuck.
  7. Choose a high speed and continue for 30 sec. Let the motor rest. You may need to repeat this a few times.
  8. Use a long spoon or other suitable kitchen utensil to get unstuck pieces of leafy greens or other larger chunks.
  9. Consider making green smoothies in parts. If the above works very slowly, start with a half of the ingredients and add the remaining ingredients slowly. Another strategy is to blend your fruits first and then add your leafy greens in small steps.
  10. Fill the container with fruits and greens only up to 80%. You need to leave some space for the blending vortex.

If you follow the above principles you should enjoy your blender for a while and be able to make green smoothies in little time.

Just do it! Make your first green smoothie. Boost your day.

***

The final note is my personal recommendation:

BlendTec – the total experience!

I personally use a BlendTec Total Blender (a.k.a. Blendtec WildSide HP3A Blender – 3Qt Container & 4″ Blade). It can blend anything because it has a powerful 1500 watt motor and a very long blade.  It works amazingly well.

To prove the power of BlendTec, the Blendtec founder Tom Dickson created a funny series of info-commercials in which he attempts to blend various unusual items, such as TV controls, CDs, iphone, air-gun, etc. These hilarious short movies can be watched either on http://www.willitblend.com or YouTube. See how e.g. xbox360 is blended:

or how English and German are blended together

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PLEASE READ:

As of January 2013, there are another powerful blenders on the market. E.g. Duronic BL 1200, Magimix 11610, Magimix 11615 with Mill. They look great, have 1.5-1.8 litre jugs, and are capable of a heavy duty work with their 1200 Watt motors. In addition, they are also cheap in comparison to BlendTec and VitaMix. However, I would have reservations to recommend them. Why? Because of their glass containers.

On my holiday last year I was using a powerful blender with a glass container, different than the ones mentioned above. Unfortunately, I had an accident. Due to micro-damages in the glass (invisible to my naked eye), the container burst into pieces, when I turned the motor on. If you ask, yes, I took care things were set up all right. Since my right hand was on the cover top, as the result, just in milliseconds my right thumb got into high-speed rotating blades, because the motor was still working. It shattered parts of the bone and removed parts of the flesh. It was horribly painful.

The thumb has been healing very slowly and it is still a long recovery. I am not sure whether it was just a one in million accident, but it certainly made me not to choose any glass container for blending, mixing or similar type of work, ever again.

***

 

eat_your_greens2

How are your mornings? Let me guess…. 

Stressful. Fast pacing. In hurry.

Some coffee. Something to eat. On the go.

But…

What would you say about changing the whole experience? What about a magical drink that is not only nutritious but also a great boost for the day?

Every morning I am looking forward to enjoying my magical drink. I am craving the subtle taste of this drink. I drink it sip by sip and simply love it.

It is green smoothie. And, yes, it looks very green 🙂

It has been a year since I started my daily habit of drinking green smoothie. This is one of a few habits I implemented problem-free directly after taking the decision. And I stick to it. Every day I drink two green smoothies and I adore it.

What is green smoothie?

Green smoothie is an energizing drink made by blending green leafy vegetables, such as spinach or kale, with fruit and water. If you like, frozen fruits and ice can be used as well. Another variant of green smoothie includes also non-starchy vegetables, such as cucumber or celery. The typical ratio in a green smoothie is about 60% fruit to 40% leafy greens in order to balance both nutrition and flavor. This is suggested by Victoria Boutenko, the pioneer of the green smoothie revolution.

I recommend you read her book Green for Life or Green Smoothie Revolution: The Radical Leap Towards Natural Health. Victoria developed the early ideas from the so-called Energy Soup by Ann Wigmore , so studying her work will give you even more foundation.

Motivation + benefits

The motivation behind green smoothies is to substantially increase the consumption of leafy green vegetables, or leafy greens, in their raw form.

What are leafy greens?
Leafy greens are vegetables with (dark) green leaves. They include spinach, baby spinach, romaine lettuce, lettuce, kale (a few variants), rocket leaves, watercress, parsley leaves, coriander (cilantro), chard, collard greens, all types of salad greens, basil, etc. There are also wild edible which can be hand-picked and used in smoothies as well. For instance, these are sorrel, stinging nettles, dandelion leaves, grape leaves, aloe leaves, etc. And guess what? The wild edibles are even more nutritious than the domesticated leafy greens and they are… uhm… yammy!

Why leafy greens? Because they are nutritional powerhouses. Just to mention a few advantages:

  • low in calories
  • low in fat
  • high in fibre hence improve digestion
  • low glycemix index (can be eaten by diabetes-2 people)
  • high in vitamin A, C, E, B2 and other B-vitamins, and K1
  • rich in in potassium, calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium
  • high in phytochemicals such as carotenoids, lutein and folates; the best source of folic acid and folates
  • some claim leafy greens help to remove toxins and toxic metals from the body; kale and coriander are of key interest

Why smoothie?
To increase the quantity of leafy greens in the diet while enjoying the experience. While some leafy greens are quite tasty in salads such as the rocket salad or baby spinach leafs, other are much less so. For instance, eating raw kale requires quite some chewing and is not a pleasant experience in my opinion. Moreover, it is usually not appealing to eat a bunch of raw spinach or chard.

So, if eating big amounts of raw spinach or kale is not your cake, there is a great solution. Prepare a delicious drink from blended leafy greens and fruits or fresh vegs. Green smoothies are surprisingly very tasty, because the fruits dominate the taste. I fell in love just after my first drink.

How-to

For the best and most nutritious experience follow the ideas below:

  • Remember the rule of 60% fruit + 40% leafy greens.
  • Collect ripe fruits and leafy greens of your choice and wash them. Put them into a blender, add little water and blend them well. Depending on the leafy greens you use and the amount you have you will need 20-80 sec of blending. Your goal is to make a dense, well-textured smoothie.
  • Don’t peel apples or pears. I blend them whole except for the endings.
  • Always include at least some fruit from the following: banana, avocado or mango. They provide smooth texture (and not a watery feeling) and a great taste. Banana gives the best base.
  • Use fruits which are seasonal. Frozen fruits can be used as well.
  • Use single or maximum two leafy greens per smoothie.
  • Use maximum two extra fruits in addition to banana/avocado/mango. The flavor worsens when too many fruits are added.
  • Rotate leafy greens daily or every few days.
  • Drink it on an empty stomach in order to assimilate the nutrients well. Wait 50-60min before eating afterwards.
  • Eat your green smoothie. The key is to take a spoon or a sip and mix it with a saliva for 15 sec or more so that your digestion will start in the mouth. It is important for the best absorption of the nutrients. Similarly, as you chew your food, you need to “chew” your smoothie. You know the enzymes have started working in your mouth when you begin to taste an increased sweetness.
  • Add additional seeds or oils (if you like) although Victoria Boutenko does not recommend it for the fastest absorption.

Very basic green smoothie recipe

  • bananas
  • spinach leaves
  • water

My basic green smoothie recipe

  • bananas
  • avocado  (note: I skipped avocado a few months after this post)
  • apples
  • leafy greens of choice
  • a mix of flax seeds and sesame seeds (soaked a night before in sour water)

Leafy greens should be rotated frequently. The reason for this is explained in the Green for Life book, but basically refers to minute amounts of alkaloids in greens which are toxic. Tiny quantities of alkaloids cannot hurt you; they will even strengthen the immune system. However, if you keep consuming any chosen leafy green for weeks without changing, the same type of alkaloids can accumulate in the body and cause some symptoms of poisoning.  Every leafy green vegetable has somewhat different alkaloids, so by changing them we do not build an overload in the body.

Note that this does not hold for fruits so the same fruits can be used daily. However, rotating fruits will enhance both flavor and nutrition in your smoothies.

My usual rotation include spinach, watercress, rocket, flat parsley leaves, kale, romaine lettuce, baby leaves and coriander. I sometimes use other greens such as black kale (cavolo nero), chard, dandelion leaves (collected on meadows) or sorrel.

Blender

The key to the smooth experience of a green smoothie is a blender. A very basic kitchen blender will not do the job. I know because I experimented with a few blenders and I burned two of them.

I first learned about green smoothie about 5 years ago. I immediately liked the idea but I did not have a good blender. I was preparing green smoothies with my kitchen blender but the results were  … ehhh…urgg… well, not tasty to say at least. It was a mix of coarsely blended fruits and greens that did not make a united whole. It was hard to gulp down without the horrendous fibres clinging everywhere in the throat. Not the best experience, I must say.

There are two key elements of a powerful blender: the motor power (or the rotation speed) and the blade length. There are many blenders with motor power of less than 400-600 Watt. They will not work that well. You also need a long blade, at least 4 cm  long. I will write more about blenders in the next post, where I provide information on how to choose the best smoothie blender.

The look or a simple how-to

“This is cool”, you may think, but “How such a green smoothie looks like?”. Well… you have guessed it right. In most cases, it looks as intensive green. It is sometimes dark green or red-brownish when you add red fruits such as strawberries. It is usually a dense drink (unless you add lots of water), denser than a usual milk-based smoothie. Here are two example of green smoothies. Have a look.

Learning points

Obviously, the only way to justify whether green smoothies are beneficial or not is to do own experimenting. The idea of green smoothie resonated with me, so I decided to give it a go for 30 days and evaluate my findings. I discovered that I loved it, so it was natural for me to continue. As a result, I established a daily habit. My family (3-4 adults + 3 kids) has now been a year on green smoothies. Below are my observations and learning points along the way:

  1. High energy levels. 
  2. Improved digestion.
  3. Green smoothie provides a good start of a day (no coffee!).
  4. Developed a good habit of eating greens. After a few weeks of drinking green smoothies, everybody craves and enjoys eating more greens.
  5. My kids love it! This is a big surprise, indeed. My twins have been on green smoothie since six months old and have loved it since beginning. A basic green smoothie  (spinach, banana and a bit of water) was one of their first food after baby rice. Introducing green smoothies to my toddler was more challenging as he was discouraged by the green look of the drink. But after a week of my offers he finally got interested. I guess, because he saw us drinking it as well. Now, he loves it, and often demands it a few times a day.
  6. Cravings for sweets have become close to zero. This is the biggest surprise for me. I usually got some cravings for sweets but after 2-3 weeks of green smoothies I stopped having them. I will occasionally eat some chocolate or cookies, but often, still to my surprise, they do not taste good to me. I believe that the perception and taste of sweetest has changed because of the green smoothie experience. I stopped eating ice-cream, simply because they taste too artificial to me nowadays.
  7. We feel healthy.
  8. Some people recommend drinking green smoothies to lose weight. It was not our experience, perhaps because we were not overweight, neither we drank smoothies promoting weight loss. If you are interested in a significant weight loss, you can learn from Angela Stokes Monarch how to approach the problem. She is respected in the Raw Food Community.
  9. Making daily green smoothies requires an extended shopping list and a routine to stick to. It is not difficult once optimized. What helps me is to order most of my fruits and leafy greens online and have it delivered. It is somewhat more expensive than buying in local grocery shop, but saves me what is currently most pricey for me, which is time.
  10. Smoothies are super easy to prepare. Fresh is always best, but green smoothies can be made in one go for the whole day. They can be stored in a refrigerator even for two days. I usually make smoothie once in the evening.
  11. You need a powerful blender to make a great smoothie every day. Consider VitaMixBlendtec 4″ Blade or Omni blender. Omni blender is especially interesting since it is as good as the other two competitors, but much cheaper. Overall, Omni blender is a great value for money. Other choices, include mid-priced blenders as described here.
    It takes me 15-20 min, from start to finish, including preparation and cleaning, to make 2.5-3 litre of the green smoothie. I do it in three batches as I also make a bit different version for the kids. You will need 5 min only if you are alone or have a small family.
  12. Green smoothies are costly especially if you buy organic fruits or vegetables. We cut down on meat, sweets and other fruit to balance the expenses. What is great is that we buy very little sweets, indeed.

Summary

Drinking green smoothies is a pain-free way to eat more leafy green vegetables and fruits a day:

  • They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and many others.
  • They are made from raw ingredients hence you get the best nutrition value.
  • They are easy to prepare and can be stored in a fridge for a day or two.
  • They are very tasty because sweetness from the fruit dominates the flavor.

From the 30-40 people whom I treated with green smoothies, only one did not like it. Many love it from the first sip. 🙂  Kids love them too. Yes, they are very delicious. And appealing in the look of fresh green.

Too busy in the morning?

If you think you are too busy in the morning to prepare the smoothie, I am with you. I am too busy myself.

But … I have a solution. Make your green smoothie in the evening and store it in the fridge. When stored immediately, the drink remains fresh and tasty in the morning. Obviously, you will loose some nutritional value by storing overnight but I personally prefer to do it this way than not to do at all.

And … don’t forget to find out  how to choose the best green smoothie blender.

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Photo courtesy McKay Savage, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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Other posts on green smoothies and raw food