As noted in a recent post, a trend I’ve observed among the spring 2019 cookbooks is plant-based cooking. I’ve seen lots of vegetarian riffs on classic meaty dishes — buffalo cauliflower, moo shu vegetable wraps — and vegetables and legumes in general comprising the bulk of main course meals: zucchini noodle pad see ew, chickpea chopped salad, black bean and quinoa burgers.
But I’ve been loving another one, too. In Healthier Together, Liz Moody offers a simple framework for making green smoothies and says the secret to making a smoothie truly filling, is to pack it with with healthy fats and protein. Feeling inspired, I started adding spinach, hemp seeds (a fat and a protein), and chia seeds (also a fat and a protein) to my longtime favorite smoothie recipe: Violet’s Big Blueberry Smoothie.
If you’ve ever added spinach (and perhaps other greens) to your smoothie, you know that the spinach essentially disappears, imparting a very subtle vegetal flavor. I found my new vegetable-packed smoothie just as satisfying as before with the added bonus of keeping me fuller longer.
After several weeks of making spinach + blueberry smoothies, I swapped out the blueberries all together for a heap (3 ounces!) of spinach instead. And to compensate for the missing sweetness lent by the berries, I added a date. Without the berries in the mix, this combination whirls into a vibrant green hue. It’s delicious, nutritious, and satisfying. Here’s the basic formula:
Green Smoothie Formula
- 1 banana, sliced and frozen
- a heap of spinach
- almond milk or milk of choice
- almond butter or nut butter of choice
- 1 date
- pinch of sea salt
- optional add-ins: chia and/or hemp seeds
Friends, are you into green smoothies? If so, what do you add to yours?
A few tips/notes:
- I’ve gotten in the habit of slicing bananas and freezing them in an airtight container. I lay a sheet of parchment paper over the slices of one whole banana, so I know how much to use for each smoothie.
- Nut butter: use what you like. I always buy/use salted.
- Depending on the size of the Medjool dates, you may only need one. If you like things a little sweeter, you may need two. You may not need them at all. My blender is old and does not do a great job whirring ingredients into a smooth purée, dates in particular. If you have the time, you can soak the dates in the almond milk, which softens them and makes them purée more smoothly. I do this first thing in the morning: pour a cup of almond milk into a 1-cup liquid measure; break up my date and drop it in. (UPDATE: I splurged on a Vitamix, which makes the whirring process a whole lot easier.)
- I bought hemp seeds on a whim after reading about them in books and blogs, and I now add a tablespoon to each smoothie. Hemp is a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, contains iron, magnesium, and vitamin E, and is a complete protein.
- Chia seeds. I always have chia seeds on hand because of this muesli, but I now add a tablespoon of chia seeds to each smoothie as well. Chia seeds have a high amount of omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, minerals, and are also a complete protein.
- 1 banana, sliced and frozen (unfrozen is fine, too)
- handful of ice
- 1 tablespoon almond butter or other nut butter
- pinch sea salt
- 1 Medjool dates, pitted and torn into pieces, see notes above
- 2 to 4 ounces spinach (I use 4 ounces)
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds, optional
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds, optional
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If blender gets stuck, stop it, jostle the ingredients with a knife, and purée again. If smoothie is too thick, add water or more almond milk till the purée is the consistency you like.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Blender
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: green, smoothie, banana, almond butter, almond milk, vegan, spinach