Green smoothies are a great way to increase your consumption of leafy greens. A mild green like baby spinach is a good first green to try because its flavor easily fades behind whatever else you blend. However, ultimately you probably want to branch out to other greens, both because baby spinach can get expensive, and because it’s probably healthier to eat a variety of greens.* Other greens can be bitter, and if you just blend them up without thinking about the combination, they can be unpalatable. One solution is to add a lot of sweet fruits to overshadow the bitterness, but I prefer to balance the bitterness with other strong flavors like ginger and lime.
I still add some sweet fruits, but by adding the strong flavors of ginger and lime, I don’t need to add as much sweetness. One thing to keep in mind is that our taste buds are extremely adaptable, so over time you may develop more of a taste for strong greens. If you’re not used to eating raw greens, you can start with less and gradually ramp up the amount.
You can use the ginger and/or lime idea with many combinations, but lately I’ve been blending a simple one with apple and orange. Here’s an example green smoothie recipe:
For the lime, you could peel it and put the whole fruit in, but make sure you remove all of the white pith, as it can be extremely bitter. I find it easier to just use an old citrus juicer that looks like this. As I mentioned in my post about ginger, I like to slice it into ~1/8″ slices perpendicular to the length of the root to minimize any possible fibrous lumps.
Kale is the most popular dark leafy green for smoothies, but you can use any other green. Kale and collards are closely related.
I generally remove the thickest parts of the stalk, but leave in the skinny part that’s in the leaf. How much stem you blend is a matter of personal taste.
This past year I’ve neglected my garden, but about 18 months ago I planted a “tree collard.” I highly recommend trying to grow some of these. At first it lagged, as it was attacked by aphids, caterpillars, and the neighborhood cats. But somehow it made it through the season, and now it’s taller than me. It’s a nice continual source of greens.
*Many discussions of green smoothies include admonitions to “ROTATE YOUR GREENS.” The thinking is that different greens have different nutrients and also anti-nutrients, so you want to get a variety of nutrients, and not overload on any single type of anti-nutrient. I haven’t seen any evidence that this is as dire a need as some people make it out to be, but I do think some variety is probably a good idea. The one documented case I’ve seen is this often-cited case of an 88-year-old woman who was eating 2-3 lbs of raw bok choy per day who went into a coma. But come on, A) she was 88, B) she was eating 2-3 lbs per day, and C) it was just a single case. So I say, try some variety, but don’t sweat it.