The Green Smoothie Revolution

Apparently green beverages aren’t just for St. Patrick’s Day anymore.  Turns out green smoothies are all the rage these days and a fair bit more nutritious than shamrock colored beer.  From blogs and books to juice bars and food trucks, verdant concoctions loaded with leafy greens and fresh fruits are literally everywhere.

So what’s all the fuss about?  Distant cousin to the milkshake, smoothies are certainly not new.  Since the advent of the blender, creative cooks everywhere have been whipping up cold drinks.   As a child in the 60s I remember my father pulling out the Osterizer and making what he called frappes, which in reality were nothing like frappes, but they sounded so exotic we begged for them.  Since that time blended drinks have been evolving along with nutrition trends.  Over the years we have seen yogurt based smoothies, cloyingly sweet fruit and sorbet smoothies, smoothies with more protein than a side of beef and smoothies fortified with every imaginable nutritional supplement.  Today the nutrition trend is fresh, organic, and naturally nutritious, and so smoothies have followed suit by turning green.

These popular libations get their color from the likes of kale, spinach, swiss chard and other green leafy vegetables.  Fruit is added to smooth out the bitter taste and additional sweetening is accomplished by the oft perceived healthier choices like agave nectar and honey.  Free of dairy products, green smoothies are thinned with juices or  water and blended with ice to make them more refreshing . . . a warm spinach drink just wouldn’t cut it.

Touted for their waist slimming and cancer fighting capabilities, green smoothies really are just good nutrition in a glass.  Our fast paced culture often doesn’t take the time for three squares a day, so many are missing nutrients provided by green vegetables.  For those lacking cooking skills or the time to cook, green smoothies come to the nutritional rescue.  By breaking out the Vitamix or Magic Bullet, one can have a day’s worth of vegetables in just a few swigs.  Loved by vegans and paleo devotees alike, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t appreciate the benefits and ease of a green smoothie.  Even those skeptical of anything green are curious to take a sip because smoothies have a reputation of being sweet and delicious.

Like all smoothies, green smoothies are very forgiving.  One can add what they have on hand and create a palate pleasing blend.  They work well for people with food sensitivities because one can pick and choose the vegetables, fruits, sweeteners and liquids they tolerate.  Green smoothies can also be a great way to ensure your kids are eating healthfully.  Tonight I made a green smoothie for my son that had 1 cup of spinach, ¼ of a banana, 3 strawberries, 1 teaspoon flax, 1 teaspoon honey, ¼ cup orange juice, ½  cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage and ice.  I was tempted to draw upon my father’s brilliance and call it a frappe, but instead I said nothing and just served it, no fanfare, no explanation.  When he said, “Can I have another smoothie?”  I felt like the best mother in the whole world.

What’s in your green smoothie?

By Mary Beth George, MEd, RD/LD, LPC

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