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Veggie Smoothies

by Judy Palken, MNS, RD, LDN

You’ve probably heard it - eat at least 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  And, color = good for you - the dark pigments in fruits and vegetables act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, providing wonderful health benefits.  

Yet it can be a challenge to eat those vegetables!  Here, we will discuss a fantastic way to get them in - including them as ingredients in smoothies!  

You may have heard of this, and might have even tried a green smoothie.  The benefits are great: 

Everything in your smoothie will be broken down due to the blending, and easier for you to digest and absorb.  This is important if you have digestive issues or for any reason have trouble with bulky and fibrous pieces of vegetables.  

Smoothies are a great way to “hide” vegetables - you can make fruit the dominant note.  

On hot summer days, a smoothie is a refreshing way to hydrate yourself with much-needed fluid.  

You can use up those vegetables in your fridge that are looking like they might be good for, you know, just one more day max… 

Finally, you will get an abundance of vitamins, minerals, health-promoting phytochemicals, and fiber!  Yes, fiber, because we are not talking about juicing the fluid out of the vegetables, and throwing out what is left - in a smoothie, you get the whole vegetable - whatever you put into your blender, you get out! 

I recommend starting your day with a veggie smoothie as part of a nutritious breakfast. What a way to get your day off to a great start!  You will likely feel energized, and amazed that you can do something so good for yourself so early in the day.  The vitamins and minerals in vegetables are necessary for your skin, eyes, blood vessels, and in fact, every cell in your body.  

Try the first smoothie, below.  Be sure to also have a good source of high-quality protein, like eggs, low fat cottage cheese, or tofu, to start your day.  

Veggie Smoothie

Serves 1-2. 

 

Ingredients: 
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • 1/2 medium carrot
  • 1/2 stalk celery      
  • 1 cup kale leaves, loosely packed
  • ½ apple, or a bit of frozen fruit – for example, 6 grapes and 6 cherries
  • ginger, a thin slice, fresh or frozen
  • 8 whole almonds
  • about 6 ice cubes
Directions: 

Mix all in blender, setting on “juice” if this is an option, until well-blended.   

This is a super-nutritious smoothie!  The almonds provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which will help with absorption of some of the vitamins in the vegetables.
The kale has lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytonutrients that are very important for eye health. 
Red peppers are a fantastic source of carotenoids and anthocyanins, and may help to protect against heart disease and certain cancers. 
The fruit adds a nice bit of sweetness, and provide great vitamins and phytochemicals of their own!  
If you are out of any of the ingredients, substitute – use spinach instead of kale, cucumber instead of celery, absolutely any color pepper! 

Here are two more: 

Tropical Green Smoothie 

Serves one. 

Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango cubes
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 banana

Directions:    

  1. Blend the cold water and the spinach. 
  2. Add the mango, pineapple, and banana, and blend again until smooth. 

Peach, Spinach, and Coconut Smoothie

Serves one. 

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup frozen peach slices  (if using fresh peach slices, add a couple of ice cubes)
  • 1 cup spinach leaves, loosely packed 
  • 1/4 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp raw honey

Directions: 

Combine all ingredients in blender.  Blend until smooth. 

 

Another option - If you have a favorite fruit smoothie recipe, simply add a super green, like kale, Swiss chard, spinach, or beet greens.  The more you add, the greener and more nutritious your smoothie becomes.  Even if you add only a little, you are still improving the value of the smoothie - and 3-4 leaves of kale every day can add up!    

Here are a few more tips:   

If your blender is not especially powerful, first blend whatever liquid you are using with the leafy greens, and then add the fruits and any other vegetables.  This will ensure that all the greens are really well broken down.  

For any smoothie recipe, you can use the fruits frozen, and omit or decrease the ice.  Frozen fruits are fantastic in smoothies, adding that real fruit slushy component!  

You are likely to find that you do not need added sweetener - the sugars naturally present in the fruit are often enough.  Bananas in particular add a wonderfully sweet flavor.  If you do find you prefer a bit of added sweetener, add just a small amount (1/2-1 tsp) of raw honey, or agave nectar.  

Bon Appétit, and Good Health!