healthy green smoothie
It’s pretty safe to say that most of you have probably made a smoothie, right? But have you made a Healthy Green Smoothie? Adding dark leafy greens to your smoothies not only adds fiber and helps keep them lower in sugar, but they pack a big nutritional punch as well. This one features Swiss chard, cucumber, celery, avocado, pineapple, ginger and coconut milk and has no added sugar!
In fact adding more vegetables in general to your smoothies is a perfect way to ensure they are healthy. They say variety is the spice of life, so try throwing in some Swiss chard, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers or carrots and you’ll be surprised how delicious a healthy green smoothie can be!
I’ll admit that adding vegetables to my smoothies is a fairly new thing for me. I’m definitely more of a frozen banana and blueberry kind of smoothie girl. But last year when I had more kale in my garden than I knew what to do with I added a few leaves to my banana blueberry smoothie and I’ve never looked back.
So I was psyched when I saw Super Green Smoothies, a new cookbook from Danielle Omar, MS RDN. All the awesome smoothie recipes include more veggies than fruit and some sort of leafy green like arugula, kale, Swiss chard, micro greens and more. It is also an extremely good resource for all things smoothie-related like smoothie prep, tools and equipment and how to pick the best produce.
Are Smoothies Healthy?
- Yes! BUT…. The key to making a healthy smoothie is to include the right balance of veggies, fruit, protein and fat.
- Adding vegetables, especially dark leafy greens like Swiss chard, kale and spinach really help to up the nutritional value and keep it lower in sugar.
- Mixing up the ingredients also helps ensure a well rounded nutritional diet.
Smoothies can be a very healthy addition to your nutritional plan, but they can also quickly become calorie bombs if you include too many added sweeteners or too much of a high calorie ingredient like nut butters. Read more about building a healthy smoothie on Everyday Health.
Tips For Making Delicious and Healthy Vegetable Smoothies
- Make sure to include protein, healthy fats and carbs for a nutritionally well balanced smoothie.
- Avoid added sweeteners like sugar, honey or maple syrup by adding fruits like banana, mango or pineapple instead to sweeten your smoothie.
- Use more vegetables than fruit to lower the amount of sugar, up the fiber and increase the nutritional benefits.
- Add protein-rich ingredients to make your smoothie more filling.
- Measure your high calorie ingredients to ensure you don’t go overboard.
- Try to keep your meal replacement smoothies to about 400 calories and a snack-size smoothie to about 200 calories.
What To Put In A Healthy Smoothie
- Dark leafy greens add a huge nutritional boost.
- Veggies like carrots, beets, sweet potato and red bell pepper add natural sweetness.
- Fruit in moderation helps sweeten smoothies and decreases the need for added sugars.
- Focus on low-sugar fruits like berries, avocado, grapefruit, tart cherries and apples.
- Danielle’s tip is to balance fruit with an additional serving of greens and other veggies to keep your blood sugar from spiking.
Plant Based Fats
- Nut butters like almond butter, peanut butter and cashew butter add flavor and a dose of healthy fat (adding 1 tablespoon is usually plenty).
- Seeds like chia seeds, hemp hearts, flaxseed and wheat germ add fiber, protein and tons of nutrients.
- Avocados are a smoothie game changer, they add flavor and unbelievable creaminess to smoothies.
- Milk and non-dairy milks add protein and creaminess.
- Greek yogurt and kefir are great ways to add protein and nutrition.
- Protein powders can be great, just watch out for ones with added sugar (check out pea, whey and egg options).
- Nut butters are not only a healthy fat, but also an awesome source of protein.
- Veggies and fruits are a great source of healthy carbs.
- Whole grains like rolled oats or cooked brown rice are a fun addition and add a satisfying thick creamy texture.
- Legumes like lentils or chickpeas can also add a nice texture and interesting flavor profile.
- Cocoa powder is a great addition to a smoothie with peanut or almond butter.
- Spices like cinnamon, turmeric and ginger add warmth and dimension.
- Fresh herbs like basil, mint, parsley and cilantro will brighten any veggie smoothie.
- Matcha powder is powdered tea, so it can add a caffeine pick me up, as well as a nutritional boost.
- Milk and non dairy milks like almond, soy and oat add flavor and nutritional benefits.
- Kefir is a fermented beverage that is tart like yogurt and has more fat than yogurt, but also has more protein.
- Coconut water comes from unripe, green coconuts and is great for hydration.
- Coconut milk is made by mixing coconut flesh with water and it will add more fat and protein than coconut water.
- Fruit juice should be used in moderation, so you don’t add too much sugar and fresh juice is better.
- Water can also be used if you are not looking to add another flavor profile to your smoothie.
One of my favorite sections in Danielle’s book is her list of Vegetables, Leafy Greens and Fruits. The list includes many smoothie-friendly vegetables and fruits with their flavor profile and a description of the nutritional benefits they will bring to your smoothie party. It is a very comprehensive and helpful list and will be a great resource when you start developing your own recipes! See below for Danielle’s description of the ingredients in this smoothie.
Ingredients for Healthy Green Smoothie
I think kale has been stealing Swiss chard’s thunder for too long! It is a mild-flavored leafy green and is rich in vitamins A,C, E and K. It is also a good source of calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, sodium and phosphorus. Swiss Chard is actually less bitter when eaten raw, but it’s still a good idea to remove the stems before blending it into smoothies.
Cucumbers add a crisp and refreshing flavor. They are low calorie and hydrating, high in antioxidants, and a good source of vitamins C and K and potassium.
Celery is refreshing and hydrating, low in calories and rich in antioxidants.
Avocados are high in fiber, lutein and healthy fats. They also add an amazing creamy texture to smoothies.
Pineapple has a sweet and tart flavor. It is rich in bromelain, a digestive enzyme that helps break down proteins, boost the immune system and suppress inflammation.
Ginger is a tropical plant and the root is commonly used fresh or dried. According to WebMD it helps fight germs, calms nausea, acts as an anti-inflammatory, soothes sore muscles, curbs cancer growth, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol and protects against disease.
Unsweetened Coconut Milk
According to Medical News Today the top three benefits of coconut milk are weight loss, heart health and a boost to the immune system. It contains high levels of saturated fat, making it a very calorie-rich food, so make sure and measure when adding it to your smoothies.
Once you’ve made a few smoothie recipes it can be really fun to get creative and develop your own. With all of the amazing veggies and fruits around there are an endless number of flavor combinations. This way you can decide if you want a thinner and sweeter smoothie or are you craving something a little thicker and less sweet? Check out these awesome tips from Vitamix to help get you started.
One of the reasons smoothies are so easy to make is because they really only require one piece of equipment… a blender. Danielle mentions that any blender can make a good smoothie, but that once you start adding greens to your smoothie a high-powered blender really does make the end result smoother and better tasting.
Danielle’s Tips On Choosing The Right Blender to Make The Best Green Smoothies
- Consider how much space you have for your blender and where it will be stored to determine the size you want.
- Think about your blender budget and how much you want to spend.
- If you plan to make green smoothies a few times a weeks, go with at least 600 watts of motor speed.
- High-powered and more expensive blenders usually have a warranty and will last for many years.
- Functions like preset settings can take the guesswork out of blending.
How To Make A Healthy Green Smoothie
- Peel the ginger with a spoon and grate using a microplane grater.
- Dice the cucumber and chop the celery.
- Cut the stems out of the Swiss chard to decrease the bitterness and roughly chop the leaves.
- Pour the coconut milk into the blender and add the ginger.
- Layer in the cucumber, celery, Swiss chard leaves, avocado and pineapple.
- Blend all of the ingredients together until completely smooth.
- Add more coconut milk if needed to reach desired consistency.
- Enjoy immediately!
Vegetable smoothies are an awesome and healthy way to start your day, but I do understand that the thought of wielding a big knife and doing a lot of chopping before you’ve even really opened your eyes can seem daunting. Fear not! Smoothies can be prepped ahead! And even better you can make a week or two worth of smoothies at one time. Here are Danielle’s pro-tips for smoothie prep.
How To Prep Ahead For Healthy Vegetable Smoothies
Freezer Prep Bag Or Jars
- Layer frozen fruits, powders, nut butters, seeds, chopped fresh or frozen veggies and chopped fresh or frozen greens into quart-size freezer bags or Mason jars.
- Squeeze the air out of the bag, seal it and freeze for up to three months.
- To make your smoothie, pour the ingredients into your blender, add your liquid of choice and blend until smooth.
Pre-Blended Big Batch Smoothies
- Another option is to pre-blend a big batch smoothie and freeze them in Mason jars.
- Leave an inch at the top for expansion when they freeze.
- Move the frozen smoothie to the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
Now that you’re on the Healthy Green Smoothie bandwagon don’t miss checking out Katie’s Vanilla Protein Green Smoothie, Super Green Tea Smoothie, Pear, Honey and Avocado Smoothie, Green Apple Smoothie and Green Mountain Smoothie.
I hope you try this awesome smoothie and check out Danielle’s new book! Please come back and let me know if you do try it! We love to hear from you! Don’t forget to leave a star rating and review! Thanks!!
This Healthy Green Smoothie gets a big nutritional kick from Swiss chard, which adds fiber and helps keep it lower in sugar.
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup diced cucumber
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped Swiss chard (about 5 leaves)
1/2 avocado, pit and skin removed
3/4 cup frozen pineapple
- Pour the coconut milk into the blender and add the ginger.
- Layer in the cucumber, celery, Swiss chard, avocado and pineapple.
- Blend all the ingredients together until completely smooth, adding more coconut milk as needed to reach desired consistency. Enjoy immediately.
Leave out the Swiss chard stems to decrease bitterness.
- Serving Size: 16 ounces
- Calories: 200
- Sugar: 13 g
- Sodium: 230 mg
- Fat: 11 g
- Carbohydrates: 27 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg