Hey loves! One of the biggest questions I get is how to make a green smoothie that tastes delicious, is completely sugar-free or low in sugar and keeps the tummy full until the next meal? It's usually followed with "I just went to the Nutritionist or Doctor and they told me I'm consuming too much sugar. What happened, I thought I was getting healthy?".
Don't feel too bad, this happens to all of us, including me. When I bought my first high speed blender 3 years ago, I was making fruit and yogurt smoothies too. It wasn't until I listened to my body and realized I wasn't feeling well on that much sugar and dairy. It actually inflamed my body. As I read other blogs and other cookbooks I began to experiment with formulas and smoothie tips, and eventually swapped out the high sugar fruits for either low sugar fruits or veggies. I learned to use herbs and spices to replace the need for more fruit. And I learned all about Stevia as a natural sweetener if I needed it. This is something you will learn as you continue to experiment with your own recipes. My biggest advice is to use recipes that are not your own at first to get the hang of formulas and ratios, then once you are savvy go ahead and create your own. However! I would not use the recipes that come with your high speed blender as they are predominately fruit driven, and that is the opposite of a healthy smoothie.
A green smoothie does not mean the color HAS to be green. Some are blue, purple, pink and even brown. A green smoothie means there are green vegetables in it.
Green Smoothies are meant to revive you, energize you, give you nutrients and keep you full, so here are my MUST HAVE tips for creating your very best green smoothie.
1. The high speed blenders that I love are the Nutribullet and the Vitamix, but any high speed blender will work. If you don't have a high speed blender, then you will have to blend your smoothie in parts and you may get actual leafy green unblended chunks in your smoothie as it will not break down properly.
2. The MUST-DO formula for a healthy green smoothie is 75 percent veggies / 25 percent fruit. If you reverse this formula you will end up with too much sugar in your bloodstream which leads to an array of health problems (weight gain, Diabetes, Pre-Diabetic, Yeast overgrowth, acne, mood changes, insomnia, high cholesterol and more). For people on sugar-free diets and Candida diets your smoothie fruit intake will be closer to 0-10 percent fruit (which is what I do, and it's still totally delicious!).
3. There are two smoothie formulas I use and this is what they look like: liquid + leafy greens + protein + fruit. OR liquid + leafy greens + other veggies + protein + fruit. To get extra nutrition you can add superfood boosts.
4. Superfood Boosts - use with caution and experience! I love superfoods but when I first started out, I followed other recipes and read the backs of the packages to see what the serving size was. I tried one at a time, with 1 week in between to gauge how my body responded to them. There were also some that I refused to try knowing my body would not react well, like Bee Pollen. If you have an allergy to Bee stings, do not use this superfood. Know that with superfoods, just because it's trendy does not mean you have to get on board with all of them. So like I said, use with caution. If a recipe calls for a superfood you do not have, you can omit it. Superfood boosts are highly nutritional add-in's that give your body extra nutrition into your smoothie. Some of my fav superfoods are Maca root powder, Acai powder, Mulberry berries, Lucuma powder, Maqui powder, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cacao powder/chips, nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters, coconut oil or coconut butter. You would not use all of these superfoods, in one smoothie, and you will notice that many recipes only call for some or even just one. Most of my smoothies will always have 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds since I cannot use nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds right.
5. Do not be afraid to change the ingredients in the recipe you are following. If the recipe calls for a leafy green you do not like or cannot have, swap it out for a different leafy green. The same goes the other ingredients like fruit, protein and liquid. Just remember to follow the formula and the measurements.
6. Spinach is not the only leafy green you can add to your smoothies. There are plenty of other leafy greens also filled with beautiful nutrients like Romaine, Mache Greens, Mixed Greens, Green Lettuce, Red Lettuce, Arugula, Kale, Dandelion, Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, Collards and more.
7. To cut down on sugar consumption it is best to go with Unsweetened versions of non-dairy milks, organic or natural unsweetened and sodium free versions of nut and seed butters.
8. Sweeteners. To add sweetness to your smoothie let your fruit, spices and Stevia do the leg work. I do not believe in adding agave, maple syrup, rice syrup or any other sugar syrup to a smoothie, with the exception of liquid Stevia, powder Stevia and unsweetened coconut shreds. Stevia is plant based natural sweetener that does not raise inulin levels, and does not cause sugar highs and lows. Stevia is also suitable for the Candida diet and for Diabetics. Coconut shreds actually decrease sugar craving, while making the smoothie taste sweet. Unsweetened dried coconut is the only "dry fruit" allowed in higher consumptions as it contains only 1gram of natural sugar. Dates and bananas can be used on special occasions as they are super high in sugar. Same goes for dried fruit with the exception of coconut.
9. Don't be afraid of healthy fats! There has been this HUGE myth that fat is bad, but the good fats are not bad. Don't be swearing off avocado and coconut just yet. Healthy fat mixed with protein keeps you full longer. It's the combination that's a total gem.
10. In a Nutribullet the liquid goes in last. In the Vitamix the liquid goes first. For all types of blenders, the ice goes in AFTER the smoothie is well blended. Then add ice and blend again. The directions to your high speed blender may advise no ice, but disregard this. Ice is a MUST, and the ice will not break your machine.
11. Always drink your smoothies cold. They are meant to be creamy and cold like a milkshake. If you feel your smoothie is not cold enough even with the ice, then put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, and it will be extra frosty.
12. Always drink your smoothie with a straw. A straw makes it easier to drink, prevents staining on your teeth and is more fun.
13. Use frozen fruit in your smoothie, which will make you smoothie creamier, and then there will be less need for ice. If you buy frozen fruit make sure it is organic!! A lot of frozen fruit out there is riddled with pesticides and GMO's. For this reason Organic is the healthiest option. You can also buy your fruit fresh and wash it, cut it up and put it in a ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 4 months.
14. Bananas can make your smoothie extra creamy and sweet. If you are going to use bananas, then peel them and freeze them ahead of time. These can be kept in a ziplock bag and frozen for up to 4 months!
15. Mangoes and Pineapple are a banana free way to sweeten and thicken up your smoothie. **These are high sugar fruits, and not suitable for Candida diets, and sugar-free diet lifestyles. These fruits are suitable for freezing.
16. Peaches, Pears, Acai Packs, berries and Melons are a banana free and low sugar way to sweeten up and thicken up your smoothie. **These are low sugar options and suitable for low sugar diet lifestyles. I like Melon fresh, peaches frozen for creamy factor and fresh for taste factor, both fresh and frozen pears, and frozen berries. Frozen cherries are higher in sugar but taking a few and mixing them with your berries is also a delicious option.
17. Don't be afraid to add additional vegetables to your smoothies! They can be a great healthy boost without destroying the flavor. My go-to veggie options are: ½ of a peeled frozen zucchini, ½ of a peeled frozen yellow squash, 1-2 cups steamed cauliflower that is frozen after steaming, frozen butternut squash, peeled fresh Jicama, frozen raw beets, frozen broccoli, 1 cup of steamed brussels sprouts, that is frozen after steaming. You would not choose all of these. You would choose one. And you don't always have to choose any. These are just options instead of or in addition to leafy greens.
18. Keep your smoothies S I M P L E ! You do not need to add in every single item listed here and then some more. If you do that, your smoothie will turn out totally nasty and you will not want to drink it. This list is to give you creative options. I suggest you follow a formula and get creative with what the formula allows. If a formula calls for a leafy green, choose the leafy green you want. If the formula calls for a non-dairy milk, choose the milk. If the formula advises 1 tablespoon of a nut or seed butter, you get to choose what nut or seed butter that is. If the formula calls for avocado, know that your only alternative to avocado is another fruit or veggie that will make it creamy. But stick with the measurements the formulas advise, unless you make it and feel it's too thick or too thin. Most newbies decide to make their own formulas, and end up hating smoothies. There are formulas for a reason.
19. For low sugar smoothie use ONLY at MAX 1 cup of fruit, knowing that, that will be the only fruit/sugar you have that day. For Candida diets and low sugar diets do not use bananas, mangoes, pineapples and grapes.
20. Nuts and Seeds are a great way to add protein and healthy fats to your smoothies. At max you only need ¼ cup. If you use raw nuts and seeds, do not add nut and seed butters. Make your choice. Keep it simple.
21. Cacao Powder, Cocoa Powder and Carob Powder - choose 1. Max 2 Tablespoons per smoothie. Cacao is Cocoa in it's raw state, it's filled with magnesium, iron and many minerals. For some it can relax the body and for others it can stimulate it. Cocoa powder is Cacao powder but processed. What's left from the processing is just the flavor and not the nutrients. Carob powder is the alternative to cocoa/cacao. It is made from a plant and is not a stimulant. This would be added if you wanted your smoothie to taste like chocolate. Combo's that work: 1-2 T. Cacao powder per recipe, 2 T. Cocoa powder per recipe, 1-2 Tablespoons Carob powder mixed with ¼ tsp. cinnamon per recipe or a mixture of chocolate and carob together per recipe. **Make sure your powders are gluten-free!
22. Flax and Chia seeds are great for pooping on the regular. Constipation be gone with these gems! They are also great healthy fats. Flax seeds promote healthy skin too. You would choose 1 or the other. Start out slow, and work up to 1 tablespoon per smoothie daily. Do not use both at the same time in the same smoothie.
23. Flax oil - add ½-1 teaspoon in your smoothie per day. This is a staple of mine. Flax oil has the richest content of ALA in a food source, and has one of the Omega-3 fatty acids essential for your body, that the body cannot make on its own. It's also amazing for hair, skin and nails.
24. Cod Liver Oil - needed for gut repair and is an essential Omega 3 fatty acid. Most adults take a fish oil capsule daily and complain of the smelly fish burping. To prevent that nastiness, high quality cod liver oil can work very well in certain smoothies (not all). It doesn't tasty fishy, and you can eliminate the whole fish burping experience. Omega 3's are essential for our body down to it's cellular structure. If you are not a vegan, then using both flax and cod liver oil is essential. For strict vegetarians and vegans it would be flax oil. For the purpose of this post and my website - this is a great option for repairing leaky gut. When I use Fish Oil liquid, I use unflavored 1 tsp. per day.
25. Grains. Grains can be a treat in a smoothie and also a meal replacement fix. Adding anywhere from ¼ -⅓ cup of cooked quinoa can make a smoothie super filling. Same goes for cooked Millet and cooked gluten-free oats.
26. Spices & Herbs. Don't forget about spices! These are an easy way to sweeten your smoothies without adding sugar. I like to use Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves, Stevia. Herbs are another superfood boost to use. Just a little goes a long way. You don't need a lot, either a few springs or a tiny handful will due. The herbs I love to play with are Basil, Parlsey, Cilantro, Mint (mint is also a great way to create a sweetness to your smoothie without adding sugar)
27. Smoothie Too thick? Add more liquid. Smoothie too thin? You can add a tablespoon or two of one of the following: avocado, banana, mango, nut/seed butter, 2 tablespoons raw gf oats, frozen zucchini, frozen steamed cauliflower, ice or yogurt.
28. If you use a Nutribullet, use the tallest cup to make your smoothies to prevent overflow and messy cleanup. (it happens, and it's happened) If your Nutribullet lid is screwed on too tight and you can't get it to open, run it under hot water for a little while. (this happens a lot!)
29. Decrease supplement intake by adding them to your smoothie. Simply open up the capsules and add them your smoothie. Remember that Iron cancels out Vitamin D and Calcium, so don't add your iron supplements into your smoothie. Iron should be taken at least 2 hours after or before your calcium and D. B Vitamins taste really nasty in a smoothie. Opt for swallowing those instead. You can also add your probiotic into your smoothie too.
30. Food Rotation !!!! LAST but not least, and this is SO important is to ROTATE your foods. Always rotate. Do not drink a smoothie every single day and use the same ingredients. Long time usage of the same foods eaten consistently can result in Food Sensitivities!! If you don't think this can happen, just know I have over 35 food sensitivities because of this very reason. Food sensitivities can last for 6 months, a few years or for life. You will want to swap your greens every 3-4 days. The same goes for all ingredients in your smoothie recipes and foods you eat in general.
**As a general rule of thumb anyone that has Celiac Disease, a Gluten Sensitivity or needs to lead a gluten-free lifestyle must read labels, check ingredients and call manufacturers to make sure that powders, superfoods, nuts, seeds, butters and sweeteners are gluten-free.
Love and blending!