There's no shortage of information out there on the health benefits of drinking green smoothies. They give you a huge amount of nutritional bang for your buck, boost your energy, strengthen your immune system, detox your body and beautify your hair, nails and skin too. Drinking green smoothies can inch you closer to consuming your recommended daily dose of fruits and veggies and also inch you closer to fitting into your skinny jeans!
The point is, life is better when green smoothies are involved. But it's hard to make regular healthy smoothie drinking an enjoyable habit. Though they're one of the simplest nutritious meals you can make, just one little mistake can throw off the taste or texture, leaving you with a blender full of unpleasant mush.
Here are some tips to make sure you’re dumping your green smoothie down your throat and not down your drain.
1. Freeze your bananas.
Frozen bananas are what make smoothies creamy and dreamy. They act as a perfect thickener, making it so you can’t even tell they’re accompanied by stringy kale or spinach. Frozen bananas also add a substantial, yet mellow, sweetness to smoothies, making it so you can’t even TASTE that the kale or spinach are in the same drink.
Trick of the trade: Peel and cut (in half or fourths) ripe (aka brown, speckled) bananas. Then, throw them in a baggie and freeze them so they’re ready to grab and blend into your green smoothies.
2. Punch up with no-cal flavors.
Adding herbs and spices to your smoothies is a fun and calorie-free way to really improve their flavor. Herbs like mint and basil are wonderful paired with berries and tropical fruits like mangos, watermelon and pineapple. Spices like cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and cardamom are lovely with peaches and bananas.
Trick of the trade: Freeze your herbs when they’re on the verge of going bad. You’ll waste less and you can use those frozen herbs to greatly enhance your smoothies.
3. Leave your ice in the freezer.
Believe it or not, adding ice to your smoothie typically turns it into a slushy. The texture will be way off, unless what you’re going for is a mock 7-11 Slurpee. Instead, use frozen fruits in your smoothies! They’re a two-for-one deal: they add wonderful flavor and nutrients AND they act as ice, making your smoothies thicker and chilled just the way you want it.
Trick of the trade: Tired of blending the same fruits from your grocery store's freezers? Try freezing ripe fruits that you cut up at home! You can buy a ripe papaya or cut up a perfect watermelon and freeze them in chunks to add to your smoothies.
4. Think outside the (base) box.
There’s no hard rule saying you have to make your green smoothies with a type of milk. Be it almond, soy, rice, hemp or dairy. How about adding the low calorie, naturally sweetness of coconut water? Or the zero calorie, yet super practical, no-excuse liquid called water? Or even a lovely flavored chilled tea?
You can even go halfsies on these liquids — half coconut water and half water. Half water and half milk. The options are really endless.
Trick of the trade: Brew a large batch of green tea, pour it into ball jars, and keep them in your fridge. Use this chilled green tea as a base for your morning green smoothie to give you an added boost of energy to kick off your day.
5. Make it part of your daily routine.
Drinking green smoothies is more of a habit you create than a craving you satisfy, at least at first. To get yourself in the habit of drinking green smoothies, you’ve got to schedule it into your day, as you would any other habit you were trying to build. When training for a 5K, you don’t just wing your practice runs, you schedule them out, prioritize them and plan around them.
Same goes for green smoothies. Don’t have time to blend one before work? Make it a priority to drink it when you get home during that in-between period when you’re hungry but it’s not yet dinner time. To really reap the benefits of green smoothies, drinking them has got to become a daily habit.
Trick of the trade: Plan out your smoothies for the week. Plan out when you’ll drink them, what recipe you’ll make, and what you need to buy or freeze to carry this out. Then, stick to your plan … no matter what!
6. De-stem your greens.
The biggest mistake newbie green smoothie drinkers make is not realizing the need to de-stem their greens! With spinach this isn’t a problem, but with kale, oh my. Whenever people complain about the horrible consistency of a kale smoothie, nine times out of 10 it’s because they’re blending up the stems. Even in a super powerful blender you’ll be better off without those harsh, thick, stringy stems. Just remove them! You (and your teeth) will be happy you did.
Trick of the trade: Save your stems! Instead of throwing them away, try boiling them for about 20 minutes and then adding them to a pesto recipe. Or, try sautéing them and adding them to a medley of sautéed veggies.
7. Act like a brat.
Just because there are endless smoothie recipes on the web and in books doesn’t mean you have to make them all! Making a smoothie you absolutely hate is probably more likely to discourage you from drinking them than to encourage you to try a different recipe. So be a brat when it comes to choosing your smoothie ingredients. If you can’t stand the flavor of grapefruit, don’t try a grapefruit-based smoothie! If cucumbers creep you out, don’t blend in cucumbers! It’s better to find a few perfect green smoothie combinations you absolutely adore than it is to try to force yourself to chug flavors you detest.
You hereby have the power to veto any ingredient that will make your smoothie undrinkable, even if it’s the latest superfood that everyone swears by. It’s better to drink your kale, banana and cinnamon smoothie that you enjoy, than to drink and gag over one sip of something funky you hate.
Trick of the trade: With great power comes great responsibility. You are responsible for getting some greens in your smoothies, so don’t start claiming that “greens make you gag.” This is about finding the fruits and flavors that you adore that makes your greens smoothies something you can’t live without.