In today’s post, I’m going to give you all the tips on how to make a green smoothie.
But not just how to make a green smoothie, how to make that green smoothie taste great – while using plenty of greens and not overdoing the fruit.
In this green smoothie post you’ll learn:
- Benefits of Green Smoothies
- How to Make Green Smoothies
- How to Add Fruits/Which Fruits to Use
- Green Smoothie Recipes
Green Smoothie Benefits
Why bother with green smoothies? Why not just eat salads or saute greens?
When hustling through the day – may be commuting, eating lunch out of the house, running with the kids or to meetings – a green smoothie is a guaranteed quick and easy way to get the plant-powered goodness of green leafies in your diet!
While I make them in the mornings, they can be made any time of day – for a light lunch, afternoon snack, or in the evening.
In short, you can get plenty of fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and abundant minerals and vitamins in a hydrating green smoothie, with ingredients that are also alkalizing for the body. Many of us may not eat a lot of raw kale or collards – or dandelion greens or parsley.
Or, maybe not in the amounts that we put in a green smoothie. Before drinking green smoothies, I ate leafy greens, but not much kale or collards. Plus, every day I add a good amount of fresh parsley to my green smoothie.
You now know that parsley is a nutrient-packed green, right? Add a small handful to your smoothie, and it’s bright and energizing.
I hear from parents all the time that make green smoothies for their children when they wouldn’t otherwise eat greens.
4) When Liquid Diet is Helpful
For some people, elderly or with medical conditions, having a liquid meal is needed – and making a tasty green drink will deliver nutrient-dense greens.
5) Allergen and Dietary Specific-Friendly
For those of you that are gluten-free or soy-free, plant-strong, oil-free, or nut-free, green smoothies are a beautiful way to incorporate many healthful ingredients.l
How to Make Green Smoothies: The Greens
So, let’s get our green on! Here are some tips to get you drinking your greens:
1) Choose your greens
First, get to know your greens. If you are intimidated by dark leafy greens, that post will help you immensely. My favorite greens to use are kale, spinach, and parsley.
These greens store well in the fridge for a few days and are very nutritious. And kale has more absorbable calcium and iron than greens such as spinach and Swiss chard (see this post).
But, spinach and Swiss chard still offer many nutritional benefits, so don’t rule them out.
Also, milder-tasting greens like spinach and chard – or even romaine – are great “starter” greens for making smoothies. If you are new to the green smoothie business, start with something like spinach or romaine, and work your way into stronger-flavored greens such as kale.
Try blending spinach with kale. Once you get the knack for fruit-to-greens proportions, this will also help you determine how much sweet fruit (e.g., banana, mango, and pineapple) to combine with the greens for the best flavor.
You can also experiment with other greens (ex: beet greens) and lettuces (ex: escarole, red leaf lettuce). I wouldn’t recommend spicy greens such as arugula or mustard greens in a smoothie— they are just too strong and peppery. Save those for your sautés and salads!
2) Wash and stem greens
Some greens can hold more grit, so fully submerge the greens in a sinkful of water, then rinse and shake off the excess water. Be sure to dry your extra greens before refrigerating. Use a salad spinner or shake to dry well.
Once they are mostly dry, store in your salad spinner, or loosely wrap them in a towel, and placing them inside a large resealable plastic bag (leave unzipped).
With greens like collards, chard, and kale, you’ll want to separate the leaves from the thick stems. Holding the leaf in one hand, run your fingers of your other hand down the length of the stalk to strip the stalk (separating the leafy portion from the tough stem). See this video.
The more tender parts of the stem (at the tops) will usually tear away with the leaves, and this is okay—they are tender enough.
How to Make Green Smoothies: The Fruit
Adding these sweet fruits will
(1) balance the bitterness and grassiness of the greens, and
(2) create a creamy consistency.
Bananas are an obvious choice because most of us have them on hand. Let your bananas overripen, and then peel, slice, and store them (in large resealable bags or in other airtight containers) in your freezer. If you aren’t overly fond of bananas, try frozen mangoes or peaches.
Mangoes also lend a subtly creamy texture, and a perfect fruit to substitue for banana. I keep bananas in my freezer, and regularly buy bags of frozen mangoes. Frozen pineapple also works very well, and helps mask the flavor of the greens.
Also include seasonal fruits for your smoothies. In the winter, along with my frozen bananas/mangoes, I add either apples, oranges, pink grapefruit, or pears. In the spring and summer, you can use melons, peaches and nectarines, grapes, and berries (red and purple berries will change the color of your smoothie, more on that soon). All these fruits will help counter any harsher notes in the greens.
Lemons/Limes: THE green smoothie game-changer
Citrus is very alkalizing for the body, and adding some lemon juice will absolutely change your green smoothie game. See this video. Simply peel and add (including any seeds). You may particularly enjoy lemons/limes if, in general, you don’t like a lot of sweet foods.
Fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are, of course, delicious in a green smoothie—and very nutritious. Even when not in season, most of have frozen berries.
The only thing you need to know about using red berries is that the color of the smoothie changes. If you can ignore the color aesthetic, by all means, include those nutrient-dense red berries.
On the other hand, if you want to mask the green color, then blue or purple berries such as blueberries, blackberries, or açai pulp work magic.
Technically avocado is a fruit, though not often thought of as a fruit because it isn’t juicy or particularly sweet. While it won’t lend much sweetness to your smoothie, it will add a luscious creaminess to your smoothie, so try adding half an avocado to your mixture and see how you like it.
Even though my focus is on getting the leafy greens into your smoothies, let’s not forget that there are other vegetables you can use in green smoothies.
For instance, you can see in this chart that cucumber is in the melon family. So it can add a fresh, melon-like quality without as much natural sugars.
Also try adding some raw carrot with mangoes/oranges/peaches. Start with smallish measures (perhaps 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup), as some vegetables impart strong and bitter flavor tones.
What vegetables do you add to green smoothies?
How to Make Green Smoothies: Extra add-ins
Smoothies are the perfect place to get in nutritious bits and bobs that you might otherwise find tricky to include in your diet. Try:
- Hemp, flax, or chia seeds
- Nuts (or nut butters, such as like almond)
- Goji berries, cocoa nibs
- Blackstrap Molasses (will turn your smoothie dark, but good hit of iron, plus calcium)
- Spirulina I personally have a hard time with spirulina, but I know others quite like it
- Ginger – fresh ginger is a great immunity booster
How to Blend Green Smoothies
You have all the elements, now you need to make your green drink deliciously smooth. Trust me when I tell you that you need to blend the heck out of your smoothie!
A high-powered blender like a Blendtec makes this an easy job. Now, before I had my big-jar Blendtec, I used an immersion blender. They can also be used, they just required a little more time. Hint: a NEW Blendtec product is coming, you will want it! Sign up for my newsletter and use Blendtec promo code YAY-BLENDTEC for 20% off anything at Blendtec. If you are shopping for a jar blender, go for a refurbished unit. You will save money and they are basically new.
If using a high-powered blender such as a Blendtec, simply run the whole juice cycle, and if needed, pulse again afterward if any chunks of frozen fruit remain. Kale leaves can take longer to fully blend than spinach or chard (especially depending on your blender).
I find that frozen fruits, such as bananas and mango, also help the blender cut through the greens. Add 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup of water to get everything moving (you can often use less with a high-powered blender). Add more water to thin, if desired; the amount of water needed varies depending on the proportion of thick fruits, such as bananas, and the amount of very juicy fruit, such as melon or orange.
Start with less water, then add more if you need to, it’s better to have a thick smoothie that can be thinned rather than a watery smoothie.
Green Smoothies: Taste Test
After blending, dip in a spoon to taste before serving up. If you need more fruit to balance the sweetness – or water to thin, add it now. You can also opt for coconut water to replace part or all of the water, or even non-dairy milk (though I don’t care for milk in green smoothies, but it can make them creamier).
Once you’ve made a dozen or so green smoothies, you probably won’t need to taste-test, as you’ll have a sense of proportions needed.
But, once you start making smoothies you’ll realize that you don’t need to measure ingredients. At first, it’s helpful to understand proportions, but soon you’ll be a green smoothie pro.
Until you’re there, below you’ll find some green smoothie recipe combinations. I’m including kale and collards here as the base green, just because they are the ones I use most and they offer the most absorbable calcium and iron.
Certainly, chard or spinach can be substituted for kale and collards. I’ve also started with 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of greens, but by all means, increase the ratio of greens to 2 cups or more as you become accustomed to the flavor.
Green Smoothie Recipes
These suggestions should yield two pretty large smoothies, but measurements are quite approximate, so modify as you need.
- 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of collard greens leaves
- about 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks
- one apple (core removed, skins intact)
- one orange (peeled)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds
- plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like
- 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of kale leaves, about 1 cup of frozen banana chunks
- 1⁄2 to 1 cup of frozen mango chunks
- 1⁄2 cup of fresh pineapple (cubed)
- 1⁄2 cup of cucumber chunks (optional)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of Vega Tropical Tango
- 1-2 tbsp hemp seeds
- plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like
- 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of kale leaves
- 1 to 1 1⁄4 cups of frozen bananas chunks
- one large or two small apples (core removed, skins intact)
- 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup of frozen mango chunks
- about 1⁄2 tablespoon of peeled ginger
- 1⁄2 peeled lemon
- plus enough water to get it all moving
1 to 1 1⁄2 cups collard greens leaves, about 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, about 1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries, one apple, 1 to 2 tablespoons of Vega Vanilla Almondilla, 2 tablespoons of goji berries, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.
Purple People Feeder
1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of collard greens leaves, about 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, about 1⁄2 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries or blackberries, 1⁄2 cup of purple or red grapes or one red apple or pear, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.
1 to 11⁄2 cups of kale leaves, 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, about 1⁄2 cup of honeydew melon (cubed), 1⁄2 cup of cucumber, one orange or 1⁄2 cup of fresh pineapple (cubed), 1⁄2 avocado, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.
1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of kale leaves; 1 cup of peach, nectarine, or mango chunks; two oranges (peeled); 1⁄3 cup of chopped carrot; 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup of frozen banana; 1⁄2 cup of vanilla nondairy yogurt (optional); plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.
If you have Let Them Eat Vegan, you can find some of this smoothie information starting on page 26.
So, do you make your own green smoothies at home? What are your favorite combinations? Share some of your own tips and favorite ideas in the comments.
This post was originally published May, 2013 and has been updated for April 2023.