Monday, January 2, 2012

The Green Smoothie

When my friend Robyn first told me about drinking a green smoothie every morning and suggested I try it, I nodded politely and thought she had fallen off her earth mama granola mountain and hit her head, thus obviously skewing her view of what should be consumed before lunchtime - or, like, ever. Anything green in my glass seemed about as unappealing as a Charlie Sheen Playgirl spread. (I have no interest in seeing his double rainbow, thanks.)

But Robyn is one of the smartest people I know, and also one of the healthiest, gorgeous-est people I know. So I figured there must be some truth to her green crap in a cup theory. I like spinach quite a bit, I just didn't like the idea of putting in a blender and, well, drinking it. Barf-o-rama.

I carried around the recipe in note form on my iPhone for a year before giving it a shot. And when I did , I did so very reluctantly. But what I have noticed is more energy, fewer sugar cravings, a smaller appetite, clearer skin and a much happier digestive system. I can't thank my friend enough for introducing me to these.

This is the original recipe given to me:

Green Smoothie

1 frozen banana
3 handfuls of baby spinach
1 juiced orange
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
8 oz of water

Blend and drink.

Here are some tips and tricks and don'ts from me:

Peel the bananas and throw them in a freezer bag before freezing them. This may seem logical to most of you, but you are not me. I had to ask how to freeze the fruit because I lack the foresight to guess that peeling a frozen banana probably wouldn't be a fun chore.

When it calls for 3 handfuls of baby spinach, give 'er. I mean it. Don't wuss out and put little baby handfuls in. Back when we were the hunter gatherer types, our ancestors used to eat several pounds of greens a day. The nutrients in them are vital, and yet it's rare to get more than a single serving in a day for most of us. Imagine what three handfuls of spinach every day can do for your body. This is such an easy way to reclaim your health, so put your big girl panties on and man up.

I have never juiced an orange for this recipe. I'm far too lazy and I have my work clothes on half the time; the idea of getting juice all over me just isn't appealing. However, the juice plays an important role: Spinach is high in a chemical called oxalic acid, which makes the calcium and iron in its leaves harder to absorb. By adding in the vitamin C from an orange, you're unbinding the goodies and letting them get more easily absorbed into the body (keep this in mind each time you have spinach). I use juice containing vitamin C to get the job done - pretty much whatever is in my fridge at the time.

This recipe calls for chia seeds. Yes, the ones they used to advertise on TV as cute little plant pets. If you don't know what they do, read up on them thanks to the handy dandy link I provided. They're definitely a superfood, they taste like nothing, and they keep your digestive system nice and happy. When I first started making the smoothies I used ground flax seed because I didn't have any chia seeds (I later found them at Bulk Barn, and they can also be found in most health food stores). If taste is what you're going for in a smoothie, don't use ground flax seed. I still shudder when I think about all the times I downed a glass in the name of health. Chia seeds for the win.

I generally use less water than in the original recipe because I like a thicker smoothie. You can decide what works for you.

The recipe makes two good sized glasses. When I'm feeling like a good girl I drink both of them down. When I'm feeling like a naughty girl or I'm rushing out the door, I fill a travel cup with some and give the rest to my husband. It's win/win either way.

Expect to uh, "clear out" a lot in the first few days. The toilet and I became well acquainted. Not in the urgent, gotta-get-there-now kind of way, but in the "again?!" kind of way. The combination of chia and greens really does a number on a sluggish digestive track. I just thought I'd be nice and forewarn you.

Finally, here's a handy dandy green smoothie chart I found (but can't find the source of now - oops) just in case you feel like switching it up a bit and making your own perfect breakfast creation:

Anyway, I am now hooked on these green goblets of goodness. If you give them a shot I bet you will be, too. They're surprisingly tasty and have become a staple in my life.

And yes, I still think they look like throw up in a cup. That part doesn't get better.


  1. My green smoothie is simpler. Ask sometime and you'll get the recipe. Mine calls for flax seed oil.. a definite yes-yes for my hypoglycemia, but the taste is absolutely disgusting. So I'd sling a shot of the oil - past the tongue, not touching it - BEFORE the smoothie. Works better. I think I need to try chia seeds. Too bad we don't have a bulk barn here in Alberta. :(

  2. I love my green smoothies too....usually have them 4-5 mornings per week. I use a couple of big spoonfuls of plain yogurt, splash of whatever juice I have in the fridge, small spoonful each of ground chia seed, pepitas, and sunflower seeds, 1/2 an apple, 1/2 a banana (frozen or not), 2 handfuls of spinach, 1 handful of kale. I don't bother with a sweetener, and sometimes mix up the fruit depending on what I have. Yummy!

  3. @Koreen: I've done the flax seed oil thing, too. You definitely have to bypass any and all taste buds. I like chia seeds because they taste like nothing and yet are supposedly even better for you than flax. (Is that even possible? How win/win!) You can buy them online, too. While finding decent nutritional info for the post, I came across this site. Can't vouch for them in any way, but you could always have a look:

    @IrismoonInTheCity: That sounds delish! I used some plain yogourt yesterday and liked the result. The apple sounds like a nice touch, too. The kale, though... Isn't that a little bitter? I've always tried to like kale with little success.

  4. I hated the kale flavour the first time I made these. It doesn't really taste bitter to me, just....earthy, maybe? I tend to go heavier on the spinach and lighter on the kale (about 2:1), which helps, or maybe I'm just used to it by now, but either way, it's more than palatable. I've used chard in place of kale as well, which is also good, and I've heard that collards are nice in a smoothie too.

  5. @irismooninThecity Okay, I'll give it a shot. I'm willing to try just about anything else days. I never thought I'd get to a place where I was drinking green goop most mornings to begin with, so why not green kale goop?


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