Do you run out of energy in your busy and stress-filled day? Making green smoothies from your abundance of homegrown greens will give you an energy boost!
I used to run out of energy in the afternoon at work. I tried drinking coffee late in the morning or early afternoon, but that didn’t help and just made me jittery and sometimes affected my sleep that night.
I then tried making a green smoothie in the morning from the abundance of greens and fruit I have in my garden. After about a week of drinking one every morning, I noticed that I stopped getting tired mid-afternoon. I was still able to function as well as in the morning.
On the days when I don’t make it (typically weekends or when I am on vacation), I notice the difference. I need to start drinking them even when I don’t go to work in my day job so that I have more energy for gardening and spending time with my family.
Smoothies can be made just for yourself or for other members of the family. Even kids will drink them if you add enough sweet fruit and don’t go too heavy on the greens, especially the spicier greens.
Health note: You need to know what your digestive system can handle. If you have a digestive condition, you may not tolerate eating raw greens as used in the smoothie. So if you are planning on introducing smoothies into your diet on a regular basis, start slow and seek the advice of a healthcare practitioner if needed.
Green smoothie ingredients
I like keeping things simple especially when it comes to recipes. I just have four main ingredients that I use to make my smoothies. Add them to your blender cup or pitcher in this order.
So what can you use for each of these?
Fruit can be canned, frozen, dried, and fresh. If you are using frozen fruit and don’t want an ice-cold smoothie, just microwave, thaw overnight or use a warm liquid to balance out the cold. Dried fruit requires a powerful blender or you might consider re-hydrating the fruit overnight in some of the liquid you will use for the smoothie.
- apple or applesauce
- *blackberries – best mixed with some other berry or fruit as they can be quite sour
- figs – dried or fresh
- peaches (as pictured)
- pears – our home-canned ones are the best, so sweet!
- *raspberries – it makes for a very seedy smoothie!
- watermelon – haven’t actually tried this but must be so refreshing in summer!
*berries can add a lot of seeds to your smoothie so be aware – usually they fall to the bottom so you can leave the last bit in the glass
Most tree fruit doesn’t need to be peeled, just washed and cored. If you have frozen or canned fruit, the juice can of course make up some of the liquid ingredient.
You need about 1/2 to 1 cup of fruit per person.
Different greens were covered in my post Quick Tip: Using Vegetable Greens So I won’t repeat that list here.
Greens can be fresh or frozen. Fresh is best but I also have a few bags of kale and chard in my freezer as a backup in winter in case I can’t pick any greens (bad weather or my greens don’t survive).
All you need to do is wash the greens well to prepare them. Avoid tough stems on kale and chard – it is best to pull off the leafy parts and either keep the stems for stirfry or toss into the compost.
Again about a packed 1/2 cup to 1 cup of greens per person.
This is usually where you might add some form of sweetener (natural not artificial) and other additional ingredients.
I skip the sweetener. In most cases the fruit I use is sweet enough. If not or if the greens I am using are especially sharp tasting such as radish greens, I just gulp it down and shake off the strong taste.
If you or your kids prefer a sweeter taste, you may need to add some sweetener or use less or different greens. Careful as too much sweetener can cause a sugar rush and then a sugar crash.
Here are some ideas of extras you could try:
- cayenne – for that extra special kick
- chia seeds, if you can soak them first for an hour or more in the liquid you will be adding
- cinnamon – this is what I usually add
- cocao powder
- ground flax seeds
- nut butter
- nutmeg – works well with cinnamon and peach or apple (think peach or apple pie or crisp)
- oatmeal – gives you a more filling smoothie
- protein powder
- sweetener – maple syrup, granulated sugar, stevia, honey, agave syrup, etc.
- wheat bran
- yoghurt – I don’t add this as I don’t need the extra calories
Try different extras to see what you prefer and adjust the quantity as you see fit. I wouldn’t add more than a few dashes of cinnamon or nutmeg or a tablespoon of the other extras in the list. The main taste should be the fruit and greens.
This is where I keep things simple and because I don’t want extra calories, I usually stick with just plain water.
Here are some other ideas for liquid. If you want to thaw out fruit or greens, warm up the liquid, but don’t boil it as hot liquid in a blender is dangerous)
- Green or herbal tea
- Coconut water
- Juice – either fruit or vegetable (tip: try using the cooking water if you boil beets, yams, etc.)
- Milk or milk substitute – goat, cow, almond, soy, rice, coconut, etc.
- Water – filtered tap water or mineral water
The reason for adding the liquid last is that it takes up the rest of the space in your blender container. Don’t go above the Max line on the blender container!
Equipment for making a green smoothie
If you want a smooth smoothie, you will need a fairly powerful blender. You can buy some very expensive blenders, but I am quite happy with the performance of the Ninja line of blenders and the price is more reasonable.
My Ninja blender is very powerful and can pulverize tougher plant materials such as leaves and stalks on greens and power through ice and other frozen fruits, etc. The blades also are removable for easier washing.
So I am confident in recommending them to you.
I purchased the Ninja Mega Kitchen System and am very satisfied with the versatility of having a food processor as well as a full-size blender pitcher and the small tumblers, which I use for my smoothies.
However if you don’t need to blend up larger batches of soup or don’t need a separate food processor, the Ninja BL456 Blenders – Countertop, 24 oz, Silver/Black will meet your needs for your morning smoothies.
Blending up the green smoothie
Use the pulse feature to start the chopping up process. Once the ingredients are small you can then let the blender run longer to liquify everything. The first few times you do this, check to see if you have any large pieces still by pouring the smoothie out into a glass.
I then fill the smoothie into a thermos to take to work and sip on it during the first hour at my desk. It is best to consume it as soon as you can after it is made.
And here is the result: with just three to four ingredients and a decent blender you get a healthy, delicious boost to your day! You’ve used up some greens and fruit as well, which you have hopefully been able to grow in your own garden.
My challenge to you is to try making a green smoothie tomorrow morning with whatever you have on hand. And report how it went in the comments, including what ingredients you used.
Wishing you happy smoothie making and drinking!
If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Wishing you all the best!
Tranquil Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC