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With the plethora of misleading information today regarding health and nutrition, it can be difficult to determine what is solid advice and what is just the next fad. The truth is, healthy eating is simple eating. And despite the numerous naysayers who may contend, I find it is generally more cost-effective as well.
This is mostly due to the fact that real food is simple and natural. A large portion of the cost of food production is in the processing and attractive packaging, which in turn comes back to the consumer.
We’re literally paying more for foods that pollute our bodies and fog our minds.
While many struggle to find the right time and place to bring their healthy habits to fruition, others are feeling great and performing at a high level. One major difference is that the second group of individuals understand the importance of efficiently structuring their everyday habits.
Adding green smoothies to your daily routine can certainly save you precious time, but most importantly, it can become a major part of your health and wellness program that is sure to deliver amazing results.
Green smoothies are any blended drink using leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, lettuce, or collard greens which contribute to its ominous green glow.
Green smoothies have seen a massive rise in popularity lately and for good reason. Many people are starting to recognize the frailty and inconsistency of the mainstream diet information they’re fed. And sure, “health smoothies” can be an extremely marketable idea, but don’t get caught up in the fads.
All it really takes is the right information and a trip to the produce aisle. Many of the staple ingredients in my personal recipe are very inexpensive (even when buying organic), but I’ll supply a few great formulas later in this article to help get you started.
Why Should I Care About Green Smoothies?
Green smoothies are a true life hack when it comes to adding in some flavor and foliage to your mediocre routine. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always struggled with finding creative ways to add some green to my life.
It’s important to note that although these concoctions are often referred to as “green smoothies” or “green shakes”, a variety of foods with a variety of colors should find their way into your blender.
It’s an unfortunate truth, but in the hyper-stimulated world which we live, real food is considered boring. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen any sexy advertising for lettuce lately. This is also why you probably won’t find many best-selling books about salad; at least not without the promise of washboard abs in 14 days.
We’re told to trust “the experts” because something so useful couldn’t really be this simple, could it?
The average modern diet can be described as anything but nutritious. We’ve lost sight of the fact that our food is the real medicine, and that we truly are what we eat. And even if you already consider yourself a diet-conscious guru of greens, you can always benefit from finding simple ways to add in a little more.
We all know that the more fruits and vegetables we eat, the better, but what are some specific benefits to look forward to?
Body Benefits of Smoothies
Everyone relishes the idea of something for nothing, the magic pill. While we know this solution doesn’t really exist, nutrient-packed green smoothies are about as close as we can get.
One of the most noticeable effects of your new super juice will be a consistent and lasting increase in energy; no jitters, no crash, but a smooth and natural energy high.
As opposed to fruit juices, your green smoothie will be made from whole foods with all of their rich fiber content. This is great news for creating a healthy digestive system and for removing old toxins and waste from your body. This can go a long way toward making you feel great.
Some other added bonuses are super-boosted immunity, balanced hormones (including testosterone), healthy and vibrant skin, fat-burning (for example, check out this fat-burning tropical smoothie) and perhaps most importantly, creating a healthy body geared up for longevity.
Many of the specific health benefits will be described in the food descriptions below. Just know that the cumulative effect of all these ingredients combined is what’s most important. It’s also important to add a variety of ingredients to your smoothie recipe list, as each food has it’s own unique array of benefits to offer.
Mind Benefits of Smoothies
First of all, your green smoothies will inevitably take the place of lesser meals, especially if your diet isn’t all that healthy right now. Just by simply cutting out the junk food, you’ll be restoring a lot of your mental processing horsepower.
Many of the ingredients in the foods you’ll be using will serve to increase focus and concentration. You’ll be absorbing more nutrients and staying more hydrated which will help keep your body (and therefore, your mind) performing at a more optimal level.
Many of the flavonoids found in your new ingredients may help memory and learning abilities by enhancing brain cell communication. You’ll also see an increase in dopamine and serotonin which can improve your mood and boost attentiveness.
What Foods Should I Choose For My Smoothie Recipes?
While there are a seemingly endless variety of foods to choose from, I’ve found that keeping it simple is the best approach.
The ideal choice would be finding multiple recipes that work for you and then rotating them to give your body a blend of amazing health benefits, but finding a favorite recipe and sticking to it is great too.
It’s all about creating a lasting habit.
Below is a list of foods that I’ve made part of my everyday “super smoothie” or at least part of my everyday diet. This will provide a good starting point and showcase some of the amazing benefits of some simple and easy-to-find ingredients.
Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. If that alone isn’t enough reason to add it to your smoothie recipe repertoire, consider this: kale is one of the best sources of vitamin C on the planet with one raw cup outranking that of a whole orange. It also outnumbers the vitamin C content of spinach roughly 4.5:1. Hello, heightened immunity.
Kale is also loaded with antioxidants. It is believed that oxidative damage largely contributes to the aging process and many diseases, including cancer. Load your diet with powerful antioxidants and you’re contributing to a preventative program like no other.
Another great benefit of kale is that it is high in brain-boosting phytonutrients. Acquiring some great smoothie recipes is not only in the interest of creating ultimate bodily health, but ultimate brain health as well. It’s for this reason that we can also note kale contains at least 45 different flavonoids and is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Kale is a true superfood that should always be at the top of your grocery list. It is also cheap, easy to find, and practically unnoticeable when blended into your green drinks.
10 Proven Benefits of Kale
CHECK OUT AS WELL:
– this awesome in-depth article from Jen Reviews which includes some scientific data on the nutritional and health benefits of Kale, as well as several genuinely fantastic recipes!
– Health Ambition’s article on the top benefits of juicing Kale
– For one of the most comprehensive breakdowns of the nutritional values and scientific research behind Kale’s effect on the body check out this publication here.
Spinach is another essential leafy green that your super smoothies shouldn’t be without. After all, remember what it did to Popeye?
Spinach is high in protein and fiber, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K. It is also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese, all of which are essential minerals.
Sure, that all sounds great, but what physical effects are offered by this gracious green? Spinach is great for supporting healthy skin and hair, bone health, lowering blood pressure, and promoting a healthy digestive tract.
It may also be important to note that although spinach is a low calorie food, most of its calories come from protein.
Your grandmother was right, carrots are great for the eyes. This is largely due to the rich content of beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the liver.
Keeping your vision clear is fantastic, but what are some more proven benefits of adding carrots to your smoothie recipe ingredient list?
Aside from supporting healthy eyesight, carrots can also help prevent cancer, slow the aging process, promote healthy skin, and assist our body in flushing out toxins. This is all great news for those who want to perform and feel their best.
Carrots are also a great source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, folate, and several other minerals. Another fun fact is that naturally occurring pigments known as carotenoids were first discovered in carrots which not only gave the vegetable it’s vibrant color, but also its name.
Celery is much more than just a low-calorie snack. Scientists have recently discovered over a dozen different types of antioxidant nutrients in it’s crunchy stalks.
Celery also boasts some fantastic anti-inflammatory effects which can prove to be extremely important for overall health and longevity.
A few of the many health-related benefits of celery may include lowering blood-pressure, preventing cancer, treating joint pain, and soothing the nervous system. Celery also adds a crisp taste when added to your green smoothie that you’ll find most favorable.
MORE: More Fresh Facts About Celery
If you ask someone in the Western hemisphere to write down the first healthy food they can think of, chances are they’ll write “a-p-p-l-e.” Apples are the quintessential fruit, and of all the varieties of apples, green apples have reserved a spot on most smoothie recipe lists, and for good reason.
First and foremost, green apples contain a generous amount of dietary fiber which is great for maintaining a healthy digestive tract and reducing the risk of colon cancer. There are also enzymes in green apples which can ease digestion.
It is also worth noting that green apples contain both flavonoids and polyphenols, antioxidants great for promoting longevity and preventing cell degeneration. Green apples are often added to many smoothie recipes for their taste, but as we can see, these flavorful fruits offer more value than simply pleasing our palates.
Orange trees are the most cultivated fruit trees on Earth. These boldly bright juicy fruits harness some amazing anti-inflammatory properties due to containing over 170 different phytochemicals and more than 60 flavonoids.
Oranges are often associated with their immunity-boosting benefits offered by the vitamin C content they boast, but it’s important to remember that a variety of fruits and vegetables with all their unique benefits is the key.
Choline is another nutrient found in oranges that may help with sleep quality, muscle movement, learning abilities, and memory retention.
As proclaimed earlier, green smoothies are not just about promoting health from the neck down, but brain health as well. This is good news for bananas because they offer high levels of tryptophan. Tryptophan is a substance converted into the mood-balancing neurotransmitter, serotonin.
Bananas are most commonly known for their potassium content which is important for a variety of essential functions in the body. They’re great for reducing swelling, protecting against type II diabetes, strengthening the nervous system, and promoting relaxation.
These uniquely flavorful fruits are also great for helping us feel more alert and focused. Bananas will help prevent kidney cancer, protect the eyes against macular degeneration, and help to increase calcium absorption too.
MORE: The Benefits of One Banana a Day
In Asian countries, the strawberry has been deemed “the queen of fruits.” Not only do strawberries display a sweet and succulent taste, but they’re also a true superfood.
Strawberries are great for boosting short-term memory. They’re also known to lower levels of CRP in the blood, a signal of inflammation in the body.
Strawberries contain potassium, vitamin K, and magnesium, all essential for bone health and a variety of other functions.
Strawberries also happen to be an excellent source of folate, vitamin C, fiber and are high in free radical-fighting anthocyanins. And while we’re on the subject of antioxidants, let’s not forget our next revitalizing power food on the list.
MORE: Further Juicy Facts About Strawberries
The tiny yet mighty blueberry is one of the most nutrient-dense berries in existence and also happens to show off the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. Pretty impressive, right?
The super antioxidant properties found in blueberries can help neutralize the oxidative damage to our DNA which is responsible for aging effects and many disease processes.
If that’s still not enough, blueberries can also protect our blood cholesterol from damage, lower blood pressure, and prevent heart disease.
Blueberries also pack a punch when it comes to mental performance and cognition. It has been found in animal studies that the antioxidants in blueberries tend to accumulate in areas of the brain directly linked to intelligence. Though they may certainly make you smarter, adding blueberries to your ingredient list should be a no-brainer.
MORE: Antioxidant Benefits of Blueberries
Black Chia Seeds
Chia seeds come from the plant, Salvia Hispanica, which is native to parts of South America. Though you probably haven’t heard of them until the last few years, they are certainly not a new discovery.
In fact, “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength”, and chia seeds were revered by both the Aztec and Mayan cultures.
A single 1 ounce serving of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 5 grams of Omega-3 fats. It’s important to note that these too are packed full of powerful antioxidants which actually help to protect the sensitive fats in the seed from going rancid.
One unique benefit of chia seeds is that due to their soluble fiber, a gelatin-like substance is formed in the stomach. This is specifically helpful for digestive health and can also serve as a prebiotic to support the growth of probiotics in the gut.
“Super Smoothies” Recipe List
You’ve now learned some of the exceptional health benefits of everyday foods you can use in your smoothie recipe, but the purpose of this article is to serve as a starting point, so provided below are some great recipes that you can put into practice today.
There is no wrong way to make your green smoothie as long as the ingredients are supporting your health and well-being. With a little practice and experimentation, you’ll surely find a recipe that works great for you.
Here is a list of some great tasting easy smoothie recipes:
My personal “Super Smoothie”
2 cups milk (almond milk also tastes great)
1 scoop peanut butter
1 green apple (chopped into quarters)
1 orange (peeled)
1 handful raw spinach leaves
2 handfuls fresh kale
2 large carrots
2 large celery stalks
1 handful black chia seeds
“Green Tart Smoothie”
1 cup water
2 cups fresh kale
2 large celery stalks
½ cucumber (chopped)
1 cup frozen pineapple
“Spinach Orange Smoothie”
¼ cup coconut water
1 orange (peeled)
1 cup spinach leaves
1 tablespoon hemp seeds (optional)
“Orange Kale Green Juice”
1 cup water
1 cup fresh kale
1 orange (peeled)
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ginger powder
“Dr. Oz’s Green Drink”
1 cup water (add as needed)
2 cups spinach
3 stalks celery
¼ orange (peeled)
¼ lime (peeled)
¼ lemon (peeled)
1 bunch fresh mint
¼ pineapple (peeled)
“Sweet Spinach Smoothie”
1 cup water (add as needed)
2 cups spinach leaves
15 green or red grapes
1 pear (peeled and chopped)
6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped avocado
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Some Tasty Tips to Boost Your Smoothie Recipies
Before you run to the kitchen, let me provide a few helpful hints I’ve learned in my experience of making green smoothies that might eliminate some of your trial-and-error.
1) First and foremost, make enough for two servings. My personal recipe listed above will yield about 40 ounces of liquid greatness. You can pour half to drink right away, then refrigerate the rest in your blender jar for later. Remove, shake, pour, and enjoy.
2) Don’t forget the ice, especially if you’re planning to drink your smoothie right away. This is one of the small things that can make a big difference. I don’t know about you, but gulping down some warm and frothy veggie sludge isn’t my idea of a good time. Not only will adding ice help your drink to chill out, but it will help dilute your mix as well. Keep it cool, guys.
3) You’ll also want to make sure to use enough liquid base, whether you’re using water, milk, almond milk, or whatever else tickles your taste buds. With all the fibrous veggies you’ll be using, things can get a little thick. Using enough liquid from the get-go will help keep the “smooth” in your “smoothie.”
4) Last but not least, don’t be afraid of a little blender blitz. It is better to overcompensate with your blending rather than leaving your drink thick and frothy. Personally, I put my blender on high, then use the pulse setting to mix until the fine, grainy pieces disappear. If you’re using a blender with an automatic cycle (like a NutriBullet), it might not hurt to double the duty and let it run twice.
Pouring It All Together
You now have in your arsenal some amazing smoothie recipes along with all the information you need to make them part of your daily life. You’ve learned some of the many invaluable health benefits that green smoothies can offer you right now, as well as the many ways they can contribute to your well-being and longevity in the future.
It’s hard to find many other healthy habits that can serve up the same kind of immediate and profound effects in your lifestyle, but the end result is ultimately up to you.
Will you accept my challenge to “go green?” A happier, healthier you is waiting on the other side.