Green Monster Smoothie
I have been off my smoothie kick for months. Maybe it was all the excesses of the holiday season, but I actually craved a green smoothie yesterday. Seriously. And this from a girl who used to cringe at the thought of blending her greens! So, in the spirit of getting back on track, perhaps at a time when people are willing to step outside of their comfort zone a little bit, I am throwing out the Monster Smoothie once more. We laugh about this in my house. The color may be off-putting to some. But I kid you not, this actually tastes great. And you will feel great after you drink it. (On that note, I prepare the smoothie thick enough to eat it rather than drink it…I think blending to the the texture of soft serve ice cream makes it spoonable and so much more satisfying.) The last one I made, I used one frozen banana and added a tablespoon of flax meal to the smoothie. The flax adds a little extra thickness and nuttiness, not to mention Omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans, and a hearty dose of fiber.
After attending a recent juicing workshop, I felt as though I learned quite a bit, yet did not immediately rush out and purchase a juicer. (For my intro to juicing post full of tips from an expert, click here.) I thought this was something best eased into, as I did not want to buy the juicer with great intentions, only to have it collect dust in a kitchen cabinet. What I did take from the event was an increased awareness of the need to eat more greens. As much as I love them, where produce is concerned, I lean towards fruit for two of my three daily meals.
Smoothies offer an efficient way to consume a variety of greens and can truly taste great, even when not the pink or yellowish hues to which we are often accustomed. While this smoothie would always be green given the addition of kale and spinach, there is one “secret” ingredient that is truly a nutritional powerhouse and lends a deeper shade of green: spirulina. What exactly is spirulina? It is a blue-green algae (I know…bear with me!) which is a rich source of protein, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and antioxidants. Simply Google the word “spirulina” and you will read about benefits ranging from improved digestion and immune system functioning to reduced inflammation and fatigue.
As far as my kids are concerned, this smoothie looks pretty darn icky, and they have no desire to try it. Though I have only dabbled in green smoothies in the past, I found the one I sampled at the juicing workshop to be so satisfying, I went out the very next day and purchased spirulina. This recreated version is easy to whip up and contains all you need for a complete meal.
I like my smoothies extra thick and creamy–that way they are spoonable and satisfy like a meal–so the frozen banana is key. Almond butter provides exceptional flavor and protein, although peanut butter is a fine substitute. Spirulina provides a monster nutritional punch, but the smoothie is healthy and delicious without, so I list that as optional. If you are new to green smoothies, begin with one cup of packed spinach, and work up to two cups and a variety of greens if you wish. When the weather outside is warm, blending four or five ice cubes into the mix makes the smoothie extra refreshing!
- 3/4 cup almond milk (feel free to choose your favorite milk)
- 1-2 cups packed greens (spinach and kale are great choices)
- 1 1/2 frozen bananas, chopped or broken into chunks
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 1 teaspoon spirulina (optional)
- Other optional ingredients: 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 4-5 ice cubes
- Add all the ingredients to your blender, and blend until thoroughly mixed.
- Depending on the strength of your blender, you may want to first blend the greens (roughly chop or tear any big pieces) with the milk. Then, add the remaining ingredients, in the order listed, blending as you go, so as not to overload a blender with a less powerful motor. I find that frozen bananas will get stuck in some blenders if there is not sufficient liquid. The add-as-you-go approach will help incorporate everything without having to add more liquid–important if you prefer a thick smoothie.
- When adding any powdered ingredients like cinnamon or spirulina, stir them in a bit before blending so they don’t poof up and stick to the top of the blender.
- Pour into a large glass or two smaller glasses and enjoy!
Sometimes, I add a sprig of mint to the smoothie. I have added parsley, but if you do so, add a very little bit the first time you try. A little bit of parsley goes a long way in a smoothie!