Monday, March 9, 2009

Green Smoothies 101

Regardless of a smoothie's final color, I refer to any smoothie containing a leafy green vegetable as a 'green smoothie'. These tasty treats are an amazing way to enjoy the many benefits that leafy green veggies provide.

Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats. [Source:]

The USDA recommends a minimum of 3 cups of dark leafy vegetables a week, an amount I'd venture to guess the vast majority of us aren't getting. Green smoothies provide the perfect solution for upping your intake - I drink one a day, each containing around a cup of greens, which means that on the basis of my smoothies alone, I'm consuming more than twice the USDA recommendation.

If you're new to green smoothies, here's a recipe I think you'll enjoy. The flavor of the greens is totally overshadowed by the sweet cherries and strawberries, and the finished product is a nice burgundy color.

'You'll Never Guess There's Greens In Here' Smoothie

makes one large or two small servings

1/2 cup frozen cherries (about 15 cherries)
1/2 cup frozen strawberries (about 10 berries)
1 ripe banana
1 apple, quartered
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (apple juice or water would be okay as well)
1-2 handfuls of greens* (spinach and kale are good)
3 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.

* If you're new to green smoothies, start with a small amount of greens and gradually work your way up. Many green smoothie aficionados recommend a balance of about 50% fruits to 50% leafy greens for an optimally healthful smoothie, but some greens are better than none, so don't give up if your palate isn't quite ready for that ratio yet.

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