In this episode of The Raw Food Podcast I dish all the dirt on green smoothies! What's in them, what do they taste like, why cleaning your blender immediately is so important, and much more.
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Here is my basic green smoothie recipe that I yammer on and on about in this episode:
- 3 large bananas (peeled)
- 2 medium oranges (peeled - use a knife, cut generously around the edges to remove a lot of the white rind as well as the skin)
- 1 apple (chopped)
- 1 cup spinach
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 sprinkle cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
PS: This third podcast episode is dedicated to Jennifer B. for her encouraging post on the Rawtarian facebook page about my new podcast. This one's for you, kid! (Can I say that? I think so. I am almost 30, after all!) Thank you all for your encouragement and for being HERE!
TRANSCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE:
Hello, and welcome to episode number three of The Raw Food Podcast. I am your host, Laura Jane, the Rawtarian, and in this episode, I’m going to be talking green smoothies, what’s in them, how do you make them, what do they taste like, and all kinds of tips and tricks about how to make green smoothies work for you in your life. Stay tuned. I’ll be back with you shortly.
Thank you so much for joining me for another episode of The Raw Food Podcast, and today’s episode is all about green smoothies. Are you excited? Well - I sure am!
First of all, I love looking at peoples’ faces when they ask what I eat for breakfast as a raw food vegan, and I tell I them I eat green smoothies. They’ll get a sort of horrified look on their face and they ask me “What the heck is green smoothie? And that sounds awful!” I’ll basically explain that a green smoothie is a blended drink, or a fruit smoothie concoction that you make in your blender, and it is usually compromised of mostly fruit. But there’s some substantial greens in there as well - greens like spinach, or parsley, romaine lettuce, kale, things like that, and when people ear that concept, they get a little freaked out, and they say “Whoa. I could never eat anything like that.”
But I would to challenge people, especially people who are not at all involved in the raw food lifestyle, and I say “Okay. Well, go with me here!”
Let’s think about a strawberry smoothie, you know strawberries, bananas, water, just a bunch of beautiful sweet yummy stuff, maybe some dates to give it even more sweetness. And I’ll say “What do you think? How does that that sound?” And they will say, “Oh, that sounds good. I love booster juice and all these kinds of blended drinks.” They’re very popular these days, in the mall. Everybody loves to have a big smoothie, or a fruit shake. So I’ll say “Okay, so you’d be willing to eat that right?” And they say “Sure sure!” And I say “What if I took this one sprig of baby spinach, and I drop it in the blender while it’s blending? That would be fine, right?” And they say, “Yeah. You probably couldn’t even taste it.” I say “What if I drop 3 more pieces of spinach in while it’s blending?” They might get a little squinty, and start to be suspicious of me, but I say “It’s all about the ratios.”
What you want to do is get that fruit to greens ratio to be something that you’re more comfortable with, and quite frankly, when we see somebody eating or drinking a green smoothie that just looks vibrantly green, and looks so healthy, to a lot of the non-raw people, it might look a little bit freaky or scary, and kids get freaked out by it too… the “green slime.”
But frequently, if you use the right type of green, it’s not actually going to taste green. It will look green but it won’t have an overwhelmingly green taste. It will still actually taste very sweet if you use a lot of fruit. And I usually like to keep the ratio two thirds fruit, one third leafy green vegetables.
But one thing I really wanted to explain to you was that you’re not going to want to use just any leafy green vegetable. There are certain leafy green vegetables that have very intense “green” flavors. For example, romaine lettuce and kale will give you a very green-tasting smoothie. So when you’re just starting out with green smoothies, I always recommend going with baby spinach as your green. It’s so awesome for you in terms of nutritional value, but it has a very bland taste that almost is completely overpowered by the other sweet ingredients. So, if I was to take a bunch of fruit in a smoothie, and add 1 cup of spinach, and then blend that… I’m talking about taste test here, so if I was to do that with spinach, 1 cup of spinach, make the exact same smoothie drink, but instead of spinach use kale or romaine lettuce, and if you were to do a taste test on those 2 different cups of smoothies, the one with the kale will be like “Whoa!” intense green flavor, which some people, especially those new to this whole crazy raw food thing, will find too intense. So it’s really important that you’re going to choose the right type of green. I quite often still do use spinach, but I sometimes do crave a little bit less of a sweeter taste, and when I want that, I will go with romaine lettuce or kale. And frequently, too, I will just use whatever green I have on hand, and that might be something different, depending on what I have run out of already. So, that’s just a little introduction to green smoothies and how they taste.
I usually have a green smoothie for breakfast, and I think another reason why they’re so popular is the fact that you can really change them and customize the way they taste. Like I said, I’ll use a different green depending on what I have in my fridge.
Everybody should definitely start with a recipe if you’ve never made one before, and you’re just getting used to making liquid concoctions in your high-speed blender, for sure you’re going to want to start with recipes and try different recipes, and see how they go. But what will happen over time is that, you will realize that most of these recipes have the same amount of soft ingredients, the same amount of hard ingredients and the same ratio of liquid. You’ll kind of get used to thinking like “Well, this recipe calls for X, Y, Z. It calls for an apple, but I don’t have an apple. Maybe I could put a pear in instead.” And then that’s kind of how you evolve into making your own smoothies from scratch. Don’t get overwhelmed; that’ll just happen over time the more you make them.
I ‘ve been raw for about 2½ years now, and I’ve been having green smoothies almost every day for all that time. Forgive me, I’m quite bad at math, but let’s say there’s 365 days per year, I’ve been doing this for 2½ years, that is a heck of a lot of green smoothies! But when you’re just getting started, just find a recipe you like. You may have to try a few, and it will absolutely depend on the type of blender that you have, as well.
If you have kind of a cheap blender that doesn’t have much speed and isn’t really blending things up to a very smooth consistency, you might need to use different recipes and different ingredients. For example, me being “The Rawtarian” and me being quite involved in all of this, I did invest in a very good blender, a high-speed blender called a “VitaMix”, and I definitely recommend them. But there’s a lot of different high-speed blenders you could get.
For me, if I would take something like an apple with the peel still on it, chop that roughly, and I would remove the seeds and things like that, when I blend that in my high-speed blender, even the peel is completely blended so that it is so smooth and silky; it’s as though I’ve purchased this blended drink from a mall kiosk. It’s just got that amazing texture that I was never able to get when I used to just have my really cheap crappy Wal-Mart blender, where there’ll be like chunks of stuff, and you wouldn’t have a consistency that was so uniform. It’s so important because you can have the exact same ingredients and put them in a really crappy blender, and it’s going to taste awful because you’re going to have chunks of things, you know pieces of apple peel that get stuck in your teeth, and it’s awful!
Whereas if you get something that is similar to what you’d buy at a mall, they might be able to put raspberries in there, with all those hard gritty grains and still get them quite smooth; it’s just the difference between a little old blender that you have at your house, versus a commercial grade blender which is what a VitaMix, and a BlendTec, and a few of those other high-end blenders are.
So as you know, if you’re familiar with my style, I am not someone who likes to spend a lot of money easily. Seriously, I’m a very cheap person and I do live on a budget. But for me, making an investment in a VitaMix, which is very expensive, it can be like $500 new; that’s a lot of money and I recognise that. But when you’re using it every day, multiple times a day, It is really worth it. I’m a little bit off track there, but it is important.
The topic I’m talking right now is the ingredients and what you’re going to put in your smoothies, but you’re going to have to choose your smoothie recipe according to the blender that you have. For example if you have a crappy blender, do not put oranges in your smoothies because you’re going to get all that fiber which is healthy, but it’s going to be chunky and really stringy, and you don’t really want that. So, if you don’t have a good blender, I would recommend definitely having smoothies that have bananas in them, maybe some softer fruits like some canteloupe or things that don’t have a lot of gritty chunks that need to be blended down.
Green smoothie recipe
I’ve been having smoothies everyday for couple of years now, and basically my go-to smoothie is this. Basically, here’s what I like to have in the morning, and I will make alterations to this recipe, but this gives you the general concept of what I like to have. So I got my Vitamix, and I’m going to peel 3 big bananas (2 to 3 bananas), and I’m going to place those in my blender first at the bottom near the blades. Of course, I’m going to be telling you about the entire recipe, but I’m going to get sidetracked already by telling you that you always want to put the soft ingredients at the bottom near the blades, and anything that’s going to be harder for your blender to mix, you want to put that in at the end. For example, this recipe is also going to have apple in it, but I’m not going to put that right close to the blades; I’m going to put that right at the top. And the reason why we do this is because, we want to give the blender a chance to get going, blend up that banana and there’s going to be liquid, water in there too, so it’s going to be a nice banana concoction going, and it’s going to start to flow and blend. Then, it’s going to suck all the chunkier stuff like chunks of apple, things like that down, but it’s going to do a better job and not get stuck as quickly, if at all which usually does not, because it has this huge base of liquid goodness which has already been liquefied.
So, we’ve placed some bananas, 3 medium bananas in a Vitamix blender. Next, I might add about 1 cup of spinach, and I usually have just baby spinach because I find that’s easier to get organic in my area, so I will put about a cup, or maybe even a cup and a half of spinach.
I will peel a couple of small oranges. Now I’m going to use 2 oranges, and when I peel them, I always peel (when I’m doing it for smoothies) with a knife and I peel a lot of the rind off. Although it’s really good for you and when I’m going to actually just eat an orange, I’ll just peel it with my hands and eat all those white bits, but when I’m putting them in a smoothie, I try to cut them off because it does alter the taste and makes it a little bit more bitter if you leave them on. Don’t be afraid to just generously cut away the peel, and while you’re doing that, cut away the rind around the edges so you might lose a bit of your orange, but that’s okay. So I’m going to do that, and place my 2 oranges in my Vitamix container.
I am going to chop an apple quite rough and remove the seeds, and then place that in the blender. I’m going to put about 3 quarters of a cup of water into the blender container, and it doesn’t really matter when you put that in because the water will just trickle down to the bottom anyway. I tend to just add it last; it’s just what I’m used to doing.
I always add about a tablespoon, or a little less, of lemon juice to my smoothies, that could be fresh squeezed, it could be a whole lemon instead of 2 oranges; you might put 1 orange + 1 whole lemon that you’ve peeled. Lemon juice is just a crazy thing; it’s a very acidic ingredient to use, and of course nobody likes a super sour taste of lemon when it’s just on its own, but it actually really alters the taste of basically any recipe that you put it in. It helps to keep the tastes balanced out, and I don’t know exactly all the details of what it does, but I know that when I add the lemon juice, it gives a little kick, it’s great, and it has that nice smoothing element to combine all the flavours. So I’m going to add about a tablespoon of lemon juice. You don’t have to add these next 2 things, but I’m just telling you what I tend to have every morning.
So you got the lemon juice in there. I’m just going to put a little sprinkle of cinnamon.
And then lastly, I do use chia seeds, and I add about a tablespoon of chia seeds, usually the whole chia seeds. It will kind of thicken the smoothie a little bit, and give it an interesting silky texture.
So again, I’ve got the bananas, I’ve got the oranges, the spinach, the apple, the water and then those 3 last things, some lemon juice, cinnamon, and chia seeds which of course you could omit if you don’t have or in a rush.
That’s actually going to make quite a large smoothie, and I would drink that all myself for breakfast. Now if you’re finding you’re using those exact ratios, and it may be too thick, or too thin, or whatnot, you know, just feel free to alter the ingredients according to what works for you, especially the water. I might be really rough with the water at first and I put in half a cup, and then it starts to blend and it’s completely blended and done and then I think, “Ooh. That looks too thick!” And I’ll just add little bit more water and then blend up again just for like an additional 5 to 10 seconds. You do have to play with that because as we all know, your bananas might be completely different sizes. Sometimes you get really juicy oranges; sometimes you get those terribly dry oranges…
But that’s an overall concept of a green smoothie, and like I said, there’s a million recipes out there, and if you’re limited by the ingredients that you have in your house, like let’s say you want to make a smoothie right now and you know you only have pears and pineapple, then just go to Google and type in: “smoothie pear pineapple”, see what comes up and just experiment. You will have some hits; you will have some misses. But that’s the only way you’re going to learn by doing and trying.
So, that’s a little bit about what smoothies taste like and how you make them specifically in terms of a recipe. I find that a green smoothie is an excellent recipe to have in your arsenal because it’s great for breakfast, but it also can be really nice as a quick snack, or a dessert, or there’s so many things that I use them for. I mean I usually just have them for breakfast, but sometimes if I ‘m feeling a little bit off, or if I feel like I need something a little bit lighter, sometimes I will have them for different meals very rarely. But occasionally I think “Oh my gosh. I need a green smoothie right now.”
Of course, it’s a great way to have your greens and it still has that fruity flavor. Overall they’re an amazing thing to have in your raw food lifestyle. I think most raw foodists do get into them at some point. I think one thing that’s so appealing about the green smoothie is really how quickly you can do it, and they’re very versatile so you can switch it up to alter the taste a little bit depending on your mood and what you’re tired of.
Another absolute favourite element of the green smoothie is how quickly you can consume it. Remember in my sample green smoothie, I said 3 bananas, 2 oranges, an apple, a cup of spinach, and bunch of other stuff. As you know, it takes a lot of time to eat your food. I still do work at an office a couple of days a week, and I have half an hour for lunch, and literally it is hard for me to physically eat all the food I need to eat in that half hour.
It’s pretty funny, because before I went raw, I was a terrible eater, and I would eat a sub, or whatever for lunch, and you can eat those so quickly. But when you’re eating a large volume of food, 3 bananas, 2 oranges, an apple, etc, that takes a long to just chew and get down. That’s the beauty of the green smoothie: it’s actually pretty quick to prepare, and then when you’re drinking it, it can be so fast, as opposed to trying to chew all of those foods. Now chewing is important for your teeth and that kind of thing, but especially in the morning, I find green smoothies super quick and really convenient. So, that’s another reason I think why people will have green smoothies for breakfast in the morning.
The most important tip ever
I wanted to leave you with one of the most important tips that I can share with you in terms of staying raw related to green smoothies, and blender used in general. You may have noticed that I do not post any pictures of my kitchen or my house. I am a wonderful person in many ways, but I am not a good housekeeper. I do not enjoy cleaning, I do not enjoy washing dishes, I do not enjoy any of those types of things. I keep a reasonably clean household, but I am not somebody who spends all the free time doing that sort of thing. Instead, I’m here sharing things with you and being more creative, and that’s what I find satisfying, as opposed to cleaning! So where I’m going with this commentary here is a very important rule, but if you can implement this rule, it will make your raw life so much easier. Do not lie, do not cheat, do not steal and do not EVER leave your blender dirty, no matter what is happening. If your house is on fire, you have to clean that blender out before you leave. What I mean by this is, most of us only have 1 good blender, and we use it for a lot of different things, and if that blender is dirty, like for example being used in your fridge to store a smoothie or something like that, don’t do that! It’s going to make it so much harder for you.
First of all, when you’re tired and you want to use your blender, and you suddenly realize it is dirty, it’s already hard enough sometimes to get energy to prepare this complex raw food, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by keeping your blender dirty.
Secondly, it is a lot harder to clean a blender that’s been sitting around with food in it. So what I did from the very first day that I got my VitaMix, which is really good blender, I told myself that I would never let it sit around dirty, even for like a few minutes. I always make whatever I’m making, then I will pour it into a Mason jar or glasses or mugs. I will pour if I’m making, say alfredo sauce, or something. I will transfer the mixture immediately into a bowl, so get whatever you’re making out of your Vitamix. Then, pour a cup or two of warm water. It can be warm or cold whatever into your Vitamix. Snap that lid back on really tightly, of course, so that you don’t want any liquid coming out of the top, and then just blend that up for like 10 or 20 seconds. It will make the cleaning process a lot easier. So you empty it right away, like as soon as it stops spinning, you empty it, then you throw some water in it, you blend it up for a second or two. Some people actually put soap at that time as well. I don’t tend to do it that way, but you certainly could. Then immediately go to your sink, toss out that dirty water that has been used to clean a lot of the interior of that carafe, and then just go ahead and hand-wash your blender right away.
That, my friends, is an amazing tip. And if you can try to do that as much as possible, get your blender cleaned right away, you’ll be in such a better position. And honestly I’m seriously bad at some types of house-cleaning like vacuuming. I hate vacuuming, but I make it a priority, and it really helps me so much. It’s like one of those important rules in life, which is try to keep your blender clean! And if I ever do an episode on food processing, I have a very good cleanliness tip with that too, but I’ll save that for next time. Perhaps I should make my next episode something to do food processing, so that I can share that tip with you.
Thank you so much for joining me on this Raw Food Podcast, and it was episode 3. I certainly enjoyed myself. I hope you’ve learnt some valuable tips about green smoothies. Do you have any of your favorite green smoothie recipes? I would love to hear from you about that. Thank you again, and that’s it for me!
You have been listening to the Raw Food Podcast, with your host the Rawtarian. Be sure to visit me at www.therawtarian.com where you can browse over 100 of my absolute favorite simple satisfying raw vegan recipes that you’ll find pretty quick to make and with just a few ingredients and that taste spectacular. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for my newsletter, and once you’ve signed up for that, you’ll get a PDF copy of 11 of my most favorite, most satisfying, most delicious recipes, including raw vegan Alfredo sauce, raw brownies, and whole host of other delicious recipes you can make at home that are raw vegan and taste amazing. Thank you so much for joining me, and I hope to hear from you very soon, and until next time, enjoy your raw adventure.