If you’ve always been fascinated by the idea of green smoothies, but just didn’t know where to start or what makes a good smoothie, this guide on how to make a green smoothie is exactly what you need!
It’s the ultimate beginner’s guide to creating your very own recipe and knowing how you can mix and match the greens, fruits, and veggies you may already have at home and turn it into the best green smoothie you’ve ever tried!
And if instead, you’ve always wondered what the fuss is all about, don’t worry I’ll share the top reasons why you need to consider a green smoothie along with tips to know exactly how to make a green smoothie at home.
So, read on to learn everything to need on how to make the best green smoothie every single time!
Why Consider Having a Green Smoothie?
Before we dive in, I think it’s first super helpful to look at why the green smoothie has become such a ubiquitous health drink and understand if it’s really that healthy!
I’ve never found an easier way to get in 3-5 servings of vegetables at once. I love a good salad, but blended down you can more easily consume the bulk at once, plus it literally takes just SECONDS to make.
Leafy greens are the best thing we can eat for our health and this is an easy way to get in more each day, reducing our risk of all kinds of disease and improving our hearts.
The truth is most of us eat too fast, we don’t chew our food well enough and we may indulge in a few too many things from a package. All of this places stress on our GI, which inhibits its ability to assimilate nutrients and quickly pass everything through (hey we all need to poo).
Unlike juice, smoothies use the entire vegetable or fruit and thus do contain all the fiber which our body needs.
Are there any downsides to green smoothies?
- May not fill you up, solely because your brain is used to chewing
- Too much fruit can create a sugar-overloaded snack
- Expensive if you buy rather than make
- They aren’t a silver bullet, you still have to choose whole foods for the rest of the day
- Cold foods don’t always make some folks feel the best
How to Get Started with Green Smoothies – 5 Tips
Making the best green smoothie is all about understanding these 5 simple tips. Let’s look at what these are:
1. The Perfect Veggie-to-Fruit Ratio
The perfect green smoothie is all about adding the right ratio of veggies to fruit. Add too many fruits and you have a sugar-overloaded snack, and add too much veggies and that’s all you’ll taste.
The best combination is to add 60-80% veggies and around 20% fruit. By adding that many delicious greens, you’ll keep your smoothie more alkaline and less sugar filled. It’ll also be higher in fiber content and overall healthier.
Your fruits and additions should make up the rest of the 20% and this way they’ll not only bump up the nutrition, but also add more flavor to your smoothie making it taste even better.Have a #greensmoothie question? This guide answers it all, plus tons of #recipes Click To Tweet
2. Add Liquids First
Always put the liquid ingredients in the blender first when making a green smoothie. This prevents the other ingredients from becoming stuck under the blades!
For a seamless blend, it also produces a vortex that draws everything into the blades.
Banana Mango Avocado from Emilie Eats
3. Blend in Stages
It’s no fun to chew your green smoothie when you get chunks left in. If you want a green smoothie that goes down easy, start by blending your leafy greens and liquid base together.
Then add the remaining fruits and additions, and blend once more.
4. Freeze Your Ingredients
Sometimes we just don’t have the time to go out and get fruits and veggies fresh from the grocery store. That’s why I highly recommend freezing your fruits and veggies by chopping them into smaller chunks, placing them in freezer-safe bags, and popping them in your freezer.
You can freeze fruits this way and even greens like spinach! It’ll give you the thickest, creamiest green smoothie without needing to use any ice, or additional fats for a creamy consistency.
A great tip is to buy seasonal produce on sale during the summer and freeze them up for later. You can also freeze any bananas that might be going brown and use them later. Fruits can be frozen for up to 6 to 9 months!
5. Pre-Portion Your Ingredients
Measuring out and pre-portioning your fruits into freezer-bags, and even your add-ins is a massive time-saver and will actually encourage you to have your green smoothie more regularly.
This can be a game-changer because it’ll allow you to make healthier choices more easily and effortlessly.
So I highly recommend taking out the time to measure out your ingredients into small containers or freezer bags for a week at a time, especially if you have some freezer safe that allows you to do that.
All you’ll have to do is pop the ingredients into your blender and blend! No measuring required whatsoever!
What You Need for the Best Green Smoothie Recipe
The best green smoothie recipe is the one that’s right for you. But there are a few components that go into every smoothie.
Following these instructions will help you come up with endless different recipes of your own, and if you happen to make a winning combination don’t forget to comment down below and share your favorite green smoothie recipe with me and everyone here!
First things first – you’ll need a blender. Whenever I talk about green smoothies, I always get asked about what the best blender is and if you really need a great one.
Well, not really, but no doubt they are better with one! The first 3 years that I made green smoothies were in my Magic Bullet. It served me well but, to be honest, I have been able to get a lot more nutrition into my smoothie with the VitaMix 5200 and I think it will outlive me.
For example, kale in the Magic Bullet never seemed to break down all the way and I’d end up with a piece or two while drinking…not so pleasant.
The next question is usually about how long you should blend your green smoothie ingredients.
A great reminder from Ben Greenfield is that we need to stop pulverizing the life out of our food. I’m guilty of putting it in and then doing things in the kitchen…no bueno.
In a high-speed blender, you don’t need more than 60 seconds most of the time and indeed you might get some fullness benefits out of a less blended smoothie with some little chunks.
If you are using a smaller blender:
- Remove kale and swiss chard leaves from the stalk
- Chop thicker pieces of vegetables or fruit before putting them in the blender
- Try blending thicker pieces for a second then tossing in some of the softer items like the banana
Vanilla-flavored almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, oat milk, or even coconut milk are a great starting point for most runner smoothies.
I try to use the Unsweetened Vanilla Coconut Milk most of the time to keep sugar low, but most soy milk will have more protein so if you aren’t adding protein it’s worth considering.
If regular milk is your thing that’s great too, but try adding a little vanilla extract for flavor.
Over time you can reduce your milk alternative amount and increase your water. Initially started with 1 cup of milk, and 1/2-1 cup of water, but now I generally use only water most days.
Superfood Smoothie Bowl from Cotter Crunch
The volume of liquid will depend upon whether you want a smoothie to sip or a smoothie bowl to eat!
The best liquid options for green smoothies include:
- Coconut water
- Almond milk
- Soy milk
- Coconut milk
- Whole milk
- Cashew milk
- Oat milk
The bulk of your smoothie should be veggies! Not fruit, not milk, etc. The goal of these smoothies is to help you get in more veggies than you likely would and in a manner that is easy to absorb by the body. Unless otherwise noted all veggies are raw.
- Baby spinachis the ideal starter green for most people. It has a more mild flavor and 1-2 cups can easily go unnoticed.
- Kale and swiss chardhave a more definitive flavor, but again mixed with the right fruit you’ll soon be drinking it like nobody’s business. For those just starting out use spinach in week one and then try adding a leaf or two of kale the following week…a little more the week after.
- The goal is to switch up your greensoccasionally to keep getting a variety of nutrients (try bok choy, dandelion greens, nearly anything).
- Beets: I’ve found buying frozen beets or pre-peeled and cooked beets then freezing them is the best method to get in this great blood builder
- Carrots:Use shredded in a smaller blender, this sweet veggie will balance out some other flavors and improve your eyesight
- Cucumber/Celery:High water content helps it blend in well and it’s great for debloating
- Broccoli:Use small pieces in a small blender to get the calcium, Vitamin K, and C benefits of this gut cleaner
- Bell Pepper: Toss in the white part of bell peppers to benefit from their high nutrition sans flavor
- Zucchini: It works in bread and muffins, so why not your smoothie! Folate, vitamins and great for heart health
First, let’s get past the fact that I recommend adding broccoli to your smoothie.
Green Detox Smoothie from Gimmie Some Oven
Most green smoothie drinkers have been able to overcome the green caused by spinach or kale, but broccoli gives them pause.
I promise fresh, NOT steamed, broccoli has no taste and with a good blender simply becomes part of the liquid gold.
When selecting any veggie, consider how intense of a flavor it carries (i.e. I can only use a little beet) and balance it with the sweetness of fruit. To get a creamier texture, you can even add avocados to your green smoothie mix!
When selecting your fruit, it’s both about flavor and benefits. Stick to whole fruit since you are doing a smoothie after all and don’t up the sugar with a juice.
- Banana: This is the primary fruit recommended for all first-time smoothie makers and one still used by many for years. Its high sugar content helps mask the veggies and it’s great for athletes due to potassium, etc.
- Pineapple: Add some frozen chunks to cool your smoothie and get an extra dose of Vitamin C to fight off those winter colds, Manganese for bone building, and most importantly anti-inflammatory effects.
- Oranges: I love an orange creamsicle smoothie, but have found this only to work well in the Vitamix. In my Magic Bullet, the white strands hung around making it just awkward to drink.
- Apple: I started doing a lot of apples due to the lower sugar and higher fiber. I also love the vanilla flavor.
- Lemon: Great for detoxing, a little lemon daily is recommended so why not put it in your smoothie.
- Berries: Super high in anti-oxidants berries are a natural choice! Some people (me) don’t care for the texture when blended, so be open to testing this out.
- Mangoes: Mangoes are a great source of antioxidants, and even magnesium, and potassium.
Almost any fruit will work, it’s a bit about preference and the amount of sugar you want in your smoothie.
Berry Beet Smoothie from The First Year
Beyond the fruits, veggies, and protein there are some little things you can add which will pump up recovery or help with other things.
Cinnamon: Great for helping to balance blood sugar, so if you’re using high sugar fruits a great add.
Tumeric: Hard to get a high enough dose in one smoothie for the anti-inflammatory effects, but a little daily could certainly add up.
Stevia: A few drops adds a little sweetness if your drink is bitter because you got excited with your veggies
Peanut Butter: I like my peanut butter on the spoon, but many folks swear by adding some to their smoothie for the satiating effect
Coconut oil: Many folks started to shy away from fat in the 80s, but thanks to new research we know that fat doesn’t make you fat. TOO much sugar, carbs, and processed crap makes you fat. Adding coconut oil to your smoothie will actually help you burn fat and that’s just one of the many benefits!
Maca: This nutty-tasting powder helps the body to overcome adrenal stress caused by workouts or life by balancing the endocrine system. (read more about adrenal fatigue)
Apple Cider Vinegar: It’s been long touted as a home remedy to aid in digestion, among many other things
Glutamine: Found in the Vega Sport Recovery powder, Glutamine is not only good for digestive issues but helps with protein synthesis which ensures that you start recovering right away and your body doesn’t begin to use your muscles for fuel.
Ground Flax: Did you know the omega 3’s in ground flax seeds are more easily absorbed than from the fish oil pill you might be taking? Not only that but the added fiber will fill you up and keep your gut happy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Green Smoothies
Does Every Smoothie Need Protein?
No. I like to use protein when I am drinking it after a workout to accelerate recovery or if it’s a substantial snack. Other times I will leave it out as an afternoon energy boost drink.
Is Protein Powder My Only Option?
No, you could put in pasteurized egg whites, greek yogurt, silken tofu, chia seeds, hemp seeds, quinoa, or oats. Here’s my full breakdown on the variety of different powder options.
What is the Best Protein Powder for Green Smoothies?
Vega Sport Protein is one of the powders I often recommend because it’s dairy free (a common cause of bloating), it’s made with clean ingredients, and has some great add-ins for digestion and recovery.
- Buy some small packets to test out different brands and flavors to find what works for you
- Try to avoid overly processed brands filled with chemicals, that defeats the purpose of the smoothie
- Try to avoid huge amounts of sugar, instead use Stevia and fruit as natural sweeteners
Best Green Smoothie Recipes for Runners
I’ve covered everything you need to know about coming up with your own green smoothie recipe, but if you’re looking to try out some specific recipes, here are some ideas to check out:
- 9 Healthy Green Smoothie Bowls from Greatist
- 17 Protein Packed Post Workout Smoothies from RTTF
- 31 Healthy Fall Smoothie Recipes from RTTF
- 25 Vegan Peanut Butter Smoothies from My Natural Family
- Green Smoothie Pancakes from The Lean Green Bean
- Green Smoothie Vegan
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Your pictures are amazing!!!! Thanks for reminding me that I need to get back to smoothies again.
My recent post Cuteness Overload
I have been adding too much fruit to my smoothies lol.This morning I made a spinach, key lime yogurt, mango, banana, chia seeds, and coconut almond milk smoothie and it was SO good! My sister and I have been on the green smoothie kick for awhile now and my skin has cleared up completely that I will never go back to taking them out of my diet. Thanks for the tips- I've been wanting to try maca and adding water instead of milk…. also you inspired me that I should be mostly greens and less fruit-
Great guide, very informative
These recipes are great. My problem is I love my drinks ice cold weather it’s just a glass of water, cold brew coffee or smoothie. I’m trying to cut back on the ice but finding hard.
why do you need to cut back on ice?