To make the most of this kale, spinach, cucumber, and banana smoothie, I plan on chewing it. Read on!
We Peaceful Dumplings are no strangers to the whir of the blender and the joys of veggie- and fruit-packed smoothie. They make perfect, pick-me-up breakfasts and really hit the spot after an afternoon workout. I even enjoy drinking them as I write. Part of this is psychological, I’m sure, but I really feel like I’m getting a burst of clean, sunny energy with every sip.
In some ways, however, that feeling isn’t so far off. Because the produce is “pre-digested” by the act of blending, the nutrients are readily available for absorption. Additionally, the body doesn’t have to work as hard to break the meal down, which explains that rush of energy.
Unlike juices, smoothies can serve as an actual meal replacement—plus, you can bottle a large batch and keep them fresh in the fridge for a few days (while juices must be consumed immediately after processing in order to make sure you get the most live enzymes for your buck).
Green smoothies, in particular, are a great way to introduce more greens into your daily life—they’re like having a salad without dressing! Green smoothies can also help balance pH levels, so whip one up if you’re feeling hung-over or when there’s something just “off” about your digestion that day.
While there is no wrong way to enjoy a green smoothie, the following are a few tips for getting the most out of your green smoothie—in terms of taste, ease of making, and nutrient absorption.
Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Green Smoothie
1. Invest in the nicest blender that you can. If you’re not a convert to the Vitamix, you may roll your eyes at the thought of shelling out $400 for a piece of kitchen equipment. You don’t have to get one to have awesome smoothies, though. I used a Ninja (about $100 at Target) for a few years before buying a refurbished (but still spendy) Vitamix. While I prefer the texture of my smoothies made in the Vitamix, the Ninja wasn’t shabby at all, and I was impressed with how much it put up with! We’re talking kale stalks on the daily. Bottom line: Get a nice blender—you won’t regret it!—but don’t feel pressured to go crazy. As long is your blender is reliable and it makes smoothies that you enjoy enough to eat everyday, then you’re good to go! (P.S. A good blender can double as a food processor in some ways—just something to keep in mind when you’re considering costs.)
2. Blend your greens first. Sometimes when you’re working with kale and other tough greens, your blender may choke up. If this happens regularly, blend your liquids and greens first, so you’re breaking down that hardy plant fiber before tossing in the easier-to-blend fruit.
3. Chew your smoothie. This may sound a little strange, but this is actually a cool trick to avoid bloating after throwing back that water-dense fiber festival we call a smoothie. Amylase, a digestive enzyme present in our saliva, helps break down the carbohydrates/sugars in food. The more the smoothie hangs out in your mouth, the more its exposed to this digestion enhancer.
4. Drink a smoothie in the morning—before any other meal. Overnight, our bodies go into cleanup mode: we finish digesting the last food of the day, which can take up to four hours, then our body gets ready to detox. Having a smoothie first thing in the morning (with all of its fiber) gives our body a hand with “sweeping” out the remnants of its nightly cleansing.
5. Prep ingredients ahead of time. If you’re always running short on time in the morning, but you’d like to make smoothies your breakfast routine, chop and bag ingredients ahead of time. You can do this before going to bed or get several batches of ingredients ready over the weekend, toss them in the freezer (in separate containers, of course), and enjoy them throughout the week.
6. Vary your greens. You’ve probably seen the headlines reading something like: PUT DOWN THE KALE—IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK. Essentially, these articles focus on kale’s link to hyperthyroidism, which isn’t something to sneeze at, but kale’s not alone in it’s less-than-perfect veggie status. Spinach, another health food staple, is high in oxalic acid, which can make other nutrients difficult to absorb and can even pull calcium from the bones when consumed too much. Furthermore, it’s possible to develop a food sensitivity to any food you consume regularly, even if you’re not expressly allergic to it. To avoid all of this bad business, vary your greens in your smoothies, and get a greater variety of nutrients (and flavors) in the process! Beet greens, chard, and romaine are all great substitutions.
Do you have any smoothie or blender tips? Do share 🙂
Some vegan smoothie recipes to try: Skin Smoothing Mango Maca Smoothie
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Photos: Mary Hood Luttrell