I’ve been enjoying healthy green smoothies almost every day for the past few months. They make a really great and filling to-go breakfast, and they’ve been saving me from withering away on those days when I have 4.5 hours of class back-to-back. I think my favorite part, though, is that you can toss in a bunch of “good for you but doesn’t taste good” stuff, and it still tastes amazing!
I wanted to make this “beginner’s guide” of sorts to pass along some of my tips for making these healthy, yummy smoothies. Anyone can do it! Once you have the ingredients, these are very easy and quick to make. Of course, if you have any health conditions, allergies, or dietary restrictions, ask your doctor for advice before jumping in.
If you want to start making healthy green smoothies, expect two things: a transition period and a lot of trial and error. These smoothies are going to look, taste, and feel different than the smoothies you’re probably used to. Take some time experimenting with your greens and start adding the extras slowly. And as for trial and error, it can be difficult trying to strike a balance that works for you. I still get it wrong sometimes — I’m currently drinking a smoothie that’s a little too green-heavy for my tastes. But, since I’ve gone through so many iterations of successful and less successful smoothies, I still really like it.
Here are some tips for your transition:
- Start simple with just greens, water or 100% fruit juice, and fruit. Don’t worry about adding fiber, supplements, or any other extras until you have a sense of your fruit-greens ratio.
- Leave some time to prepare your smoothies. The biggest mistake I made was waiting until the morning to make my smoothies, so I ended up rushing through the process and ending up with chunks of unblended fruit and forgotten ingredients. Now, I generally make my smoothies at night and find the process very relaxing, because I get to spend time carefully choosing what I’m putting into my body. It also puts a huge relief on my mornings when I know I have one or two smoothies to choose from on my way out.
- Avoid eating anything overly sweet with your smoothies, especially anything fruity-flavored or processed. Your taste preferences will adjust to having a smoothie that’s not all fruit, but when you take a bite of fruity pebbles and go in for a sip, the contrast will make your smoothie taste awful in comparison.
- Make a list or sort your ingredients so you don’t forget anything. When I first started, I separated some fruit and greens into bags and froze them, so I could essentially grab one and dump it into my blender. Then as my smoothies got more complicated, I started making lists for myself so I wouldn’t forget any ingredients.
- Designate a smoothie spot in your kitchen, so everything is within arm’s reach. Dealing with all of these fruits and veggies can get messy, so it’s nice to have everything nearby and right next to the sink. My housemates and I have left one of our Nutribullets (yes, we have more than one) in the corner of the kitchen, so I reserved some space on the shelf above it for my smoothie additions.
- Clean up right away. It’s tempting to leave the dishes be, but smoothies are VERY difficult to clean once the remnants are dry in your cup. I always at least rinse out my blender pieces right when I’m done so all of the blended smoothie is gone.
Now that you’ve prepared your space and mind, it’s time to put some recipes together and get your ingredients!
This is the basic template of what you’ll need:
- Greens: kale, spinach, chard, or mixed salad greens will do. Many grocery stores will have prepared bags of these greens. I suggest buying one bag that has a combination of some of these greens until you know how much you’ll go through each week or which you like best. I started out with Trader Joe’s Power Greens bag, and now I’ll get a bag of spinach and a bag of kale because I know I’ll go through them (I’ve started cooking with them, too).
- Frozen fruit: grab whatever you like! The beauty of frozen fruit is that you know it will be ripe, and you don’t have to worry about it going bad right away. The fruit I always keep stocked are strawberries, mango, pineapple, peaches, and blueberries. Cherries, raspberries, or blackberries are also easy to find.
- Fresh fruit (optional): certain fruits don’t freeze well. I can’t go without bananas — they make the texture so smooth. I also suggest oranges, lemon/lime, melon, watermelon, pomegranate seeds, or grapes.
- Juice (optional): if you’re going to add juice, make sure it’s 100% juice with no added sugar. I use apple juice quite a bit, but orange juice or cherry juice are other favorites of mine. If you want a creamier smoothie, try some almond, soy, or coconut milk.
* Note that this combination isn’t quite complete enough to be a meal replacement. Enjoy your smoothie with some toast, eggs, granola, or cereal until you are ready to start adding fiber and other nutrition.
Once you have your ingredients, start experimenting with proportions. Start with one handful of greens, two or more handfuls of fruit, and a generous amount of water or juice so it blends smoothly. Over time, try adding more greens and less fruit.
Below are some simple recipes to get you started:
Mango Pineapple: 1-2 handfuls of greens, 7-10 sizeable mango chunks, and 1 handful pineapple (aim for 1 cup of fruit total). Add around 1 cup of water or fruit juice and blend until smooth. This smoothie should be a light, bright green.
Strawberry Mango: 1-2 handfuls of greens, 7-10 sizeable mango chunks, and about a dozen strawberries (again, aim for 1 cup of fruit total). Add around 1 cup of water or fruit juice and blend until smooth. These fruit chunks are typically on the larger side, so be prepared to add more water as it blends. This smoothie is going to come out brown, so be warned: it doesn’t look super appetizing, but it will taste awesome!
Pineapple Banana Berry: 1-2 handfuls of greens, half a banana, 2 handfuls of blueberries, and 1 handful of pineapple (the banana might make this slightly larger than 1 cup). Add around 1 cup of water or juice, and blend until smooth. This smoothie will end up a dark purple shade, thanks to the blueberries.
Strawberry-Vanilla Protein: 1 handful of greens, 1 serving of vanilla protein powder (check your label for the serving size), 2 handfuls of strawberries, and 1.5 cups unsweetened or vanilla almond/soy/coconut milk. Blend until the strawberries are smooth and the powder is completely mixed. Add more milk if the powder isn’t dissolving.
To make this into a breakfast treat, stir in some oats or granola and eat it with a spoon. You may want to add less liquid to the smoothie if you plan on doing this so the texture is more frozen. If you want to make the smoothie itself more filling, add 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed for some fiber. Chia seeds work well for this too, but I find flaxseed to be more neutral and “invisible” in smoothies, so it’s great for beginners!
Hopefully you found this a helpful start to making green smoothies. I’m working on a part two for this post with some more advanced tips, such as natural ways to add more sweetness your smoothie and how to add supplements.
Thanks for stopping by!