A green smoothie recipe my dad would love
My dad and I talk about food a lot. Smoothies in particular are a hot topic. I’ve been having breakfast smoothies for about 10 years. A green smoothie is a great breakfast option. What are the best ingredients for a green smoothie? Well, this post will hopefully give you some ideas so that you can start making your own healthy green smoothies.
Updated recipe: Sept 2022
After much experimentation I've settled on a lower carb, higher fat smoothie that is really delicious. Thanks Michelle!
Why a green smoothie?
Technically, you can add any ingredients you like to your smoothie. But you tend to get a brown or grey looking sludge that doesn't look very appealing to drink! So, if you group your foods together by colour then you end up with a nice green smoothie or a deep red smoothie, depending on the ingredients. For the designers amongst us, green and red are complementary colours on the colour wheel which is also very satisfying!
Benefits of a breakfast smoothie
Now, you might be wondering why I switched from a solid breakfast to a breakfast smoothie in the first place. There are 3 reasons why I replaced my breakfast meal with a breakfast smoothie.
The first is digestion. It's a lot easier to digest a breakfast smoothie than a solid meal, so it's easier on the gut. If you've been fasting, for example, then a smoothie is a great way to reintroduce food back into your system. For more on fasting, check out my post: My first 3-day fast: a gruelling test of endurance.
The second reason is nutrition. You can easily add powders and multiple ingredients to your smoothie that are both easy on the stomach and very good for you, by providing a complex meal in liquid form. For example, adding spirulina powder to your green smoothie will turn it into kryptonite! Which is bad for Superman but very good for us mere humans!
The third reason I switched to a breakfast smoothie is convenience. I don't have to think about what I'm going to eat for breakfast and I can change the ingredients of my breakfast smoothie for a different taste quite easily.
Downsides of a breakfast smoothie
There are a couple of downsides of switching to a breakfast smoothie that are worth mentioning. The first is that when you initially make the switch you'll notice you don't feel full for as long, and you'll likely start getting hungrier earlier than usual. There are a couple of ways to adapt to this. The easiest short-term solution is to eat lunch earlier, or add a healthy mid-morning snack to your day.
I think I'm feeling 'hangry'
The second very important adaptation is getting used to feeling hungry (or hangry if there's some anger thrown in there too!). You're not going to die of hunger if you feel some hunger pangs for a few hours. While it may be uncomfortable initially, this is actually a very good adjustment to make in relationship to food. It requires a little mental discipline that's worth cultivating. Learning to focus on tasks at work when you're feeling hungry is something worthwhile developing. If you find this idea interesting, then you may also want to investigate intermittent fasting, which is very good for cultivating mental toughness, increasing your metabolism and getting more done in less time. Preparing food and eating actually takes more time than you'd think!
On the topic of fasting and mental toughness, check out my post on my first 3-day fast, where I fasted completely for 3 days, drinking only salt water and lemon juice at the beginning of each day.
Green smoothies cost greenbacks
Green smoothies aren't cheap! Making a multi-ingredient smoothie with fresh organic produce, while more nutritious than eating porridge, is going to set you back. The spirulina powder I mentioned above is also the most expensive ingredient on the list. Fortunately, you only need around a teaspoon of this, as it has a rather potent taste that can easily overwhelm your green smoothie. I'd recommend buying your spirulina online in bulk 1kg bags, as this is the most cost effective option. But you absolutely don't need spirulina in your green smoothie, either! Right, let's get back to our green smoothie recipe.
A green smoothie recipe to get your mouth watering!
Base smoothie ingredients
All my smoothie recipes have the following base ingredients that I build on top of:
What! No milk?! Don't worry the peanut butter and coconut oil are much healthier and tastier!
Green smoothie ingredients
Here are my top green smoothie ingredients. Just add these to the smoothie base:
Boosting your green smoothie with powders
My dad has asked me what powders I add to my smoothie and if I add protein powder. Personally, I'm not a fan of adding powders to smoothies, with the 2 exceptions you see in the image above. The reason for this is that many protein powders have lots of other additives, like sweetener, flavouring and bulking agents.
I even got mouth ulcers using a vegan protein blend from a reputable online health store. So I stay clear of supplemental powders, except for raw cacao and spirulina.
Raw cacao is amazing stuff, good for cacao ceremonies and homemade vegan Nutella. It gives your smoothie a chocolatey taste, although it's rather bitter too and needs a little sweetness - normally provided by bananas. Raw cacao is not actually "raw" as you might think, it's just heated at a low temperature. This article from the daily grind makes for an interesting read.
As I mentioned earlier, this freshwater seaweed has a rather pungent taste and I've slowly increased my tolerance for it over time. Spirulina seems to be one of the most popular superfoods out there with loads of reported benefits. Check out Healthline's article: 10 health benefits of spirulina.
Making your smoothie
Preparation time: 5-10 minutes.
Looking at the 2 lists above, you could make a smoothie just from the base ingredients. I don't peel the turmeric or ginger as these 2 ingredients are nearly always organic. But I do peel the banana (just in case you're wondering!). The peanut butter and the coconut oil make the smoothie creamy so resist the urge to scrimp on these ingredients. They really do make a difference!
I've also found that if I skip the banana, the smoothie gets rather bitter. You'll need to experiment with the ingredients and quantities to find a taste that suits you. Adding oats, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and avocado has a thickening effect, so watch out your smoothie doesn't end up like a thick, green, muddy swamp!
It's also a good idea to cut the ginger up into small pieces, otherwise it can be quite stringy. You'll also want to start off with less ginger than I recommend as it adds a very strong zesty flavour to your smoothie. So, if you're not used to cooking with ginger generally, it's worth starting off conservatively.
Just add all your ingredients into your blender and whizz them round for a minute or 2 and then you're good to go. With a bit of practice, creating a green smoothie recipe for yourself won't be too hard!
When making your green smoothie, it's also a good rule of thumb to add less water to start with and top up as needed. Because, once you’ve added too much water, you can’t easily thicken your green smoothie unless you add more ingredients.
A green smoothie is a great way to get some high quality nutrients into your body without overloading your gut. But, finding a smoothie that has a taste that suits you will take some trial and error. Also, bear in mind that using high quality, organic ingredients can be expensive.
But, the greatest benefits are to be had by integrating a green smoothie at the start of your day, rather than as an ad hoc treat or experiment. Getting used to feeling a little less satiated can also be a great preparation for intermittent fasting, with a positive effect on your metabolic rate while cultivating a little mental resilience.