Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Recipe Connection: Green Smoothies with Kale

May 7th, 2009 · 24 Comments · Recipes, Super Foods

green smoothies with kale

It seems green smoothies are all the rage in the blogosphere right now. So much so that I almost hate to post about them; I’m not a big fan of redundancy BUT they fit so well with our super foods, especially kale for this week. We love green smoothies as an addition to a basic oatmeal breakfast, but they also make a perfect after-school snack and even a dessert!

They're not so green if you add strawberries!

They’re not so green if you add strawberries!

They’re a great way to get green veggies in your diet without having limp spinach leaves on your plate and wondering how you’ll convince your kids (and husband?) to consume them.

Green Smoothie Basics
    1. Put some greens (kale, spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, etc.) in the blender.
A few handfuls - this happens to be spinach.

A few handfuls – this happens to be spinach.

    1. Blend with milk and yogurt until smooth.
The green-ness!

The green-ness!

    1. Add fruit, frozen for best “ice cream like” consistency.
You don't have to be picky when you freeze strawberries for smoothies - I even left the greens on these!

You don’t have to be picky when you freeze strawberries for smoothies – I even left the greens on these!

  1. Blend again.
  2. Yum!
Cooked Smoothies? Yuck!

In researching nutrition information about vegetables, however, I learned that there are some foods that are better eaten lightly cooked than raw, kale and spinach being among them.  (See here for more.)  “What about the green smoothies?” I thought.  I couldn’t imagine cooking the spinach first…way too much work for what was a great-vegetable-eating-yummy-trick.

The baby food cubes are the answer to the problem.  Just lightly steam a big batch of greens, blend up with a bit of water, and freeze in cubes.  You can have a whole bag of green cubes ready to go into any smoothie, and with the nutrition of cooked greens to boot.

UPDATE: I cut out the blending part, then the cube part. In other words, you can REALLY make this task quick if you simply chop and lightly steam the greens, douse in cold water, and make a single layer in a gallon-sized zipper bag. Freeze as is and you can break up the greens into chunks for the smoothies without a problem.

timesaverTimesaver:  Use the same steamer basket you just cooked veggies for dinner in.  Also, you can leave a bit in the bottom of the blender, add milk and yogurt, and have green smoothies for dessert that night, so you’re not doing extra dishes with the blender just for the cubes.  I promise it doesn’t taste like you put cooked spinach in there!

added bonusAdded bonus:  the more frozen things go into the smoothie, the more like a “dessert” it really is!

Our Best Green Smoothies

Perfect for our family of three:

  • 3-5 cubes blanched, frozen greens or 2-3 handfuls fresh
  • 2 cups milk and homemade yogurt, any ratio you choose

Blend thoroughly.

Add:

  • 1 frozen banana (this is the key ingredient according to my guys!)
  • about a cup of frozen strawberries, peaches or combination; blueberries hide the green color the best if you’re trying to be sneaky on the first go ’round.
  • You can also add fresh fruit:  we’ve done whole peaches, pears, and melon slices.
  • Some folks add a few splashes of orange juice
  • You can also add coconut oil for that pina colada flavor and power-packed healthy fats, but be sure to only add it in its liquid form, and drizzle it into the vortex while the blender is on. Otherwise you can end up with little balls of solid coconut oil in the smoothie which gives an awful mouthfeel.
  • Add honey or sugar if necessary – but taste it first. Sometimes you really don’t need the sweetener!

moneyFrugal Note:  Check your regular stores for prices on kale.  I don’t know why, but the store that usually has higher prices in my area sells kale for 99 cents a pound, which is about 60 cents a bunch, but my primary store with the lowest prices sells it for $1.50 a bunch.  !!  It pays to check when you’re buying something new-to-you that might not be in the regular sale rotation!

[interactive_links style='side_count']

What do you put in your smoothies?

Other Green Smoothie Links

A blog all about kale!

Other Recipe Connections:

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Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Primal Toad’s smoothie eBook, but he’s also a pretty cool guy who even lives in my hometown. Thanks for helping him out with your purchase! See my full disclosure statement here.

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24 Comments so far ↓

  • Maria

    Katie, I’m so sorry tp hear about your loss. Cheer up. It’s gargae sale season!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Brittany

    What kind of blender are you looking at getting? I broke my blender, borrowed my mom’s and broke hers too. Apparently I’m really hard on blenders, and am looking for recommendations for a long-lasting one!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    I’ve heard good things about the Vita Mix, and there’s another one highly recommended by Green Smoothie Girl here: http://www.greensmoothiegirl.com/best-blender.html I’m first wondering if we can fix ours, but if I end up with a new one, I’ll post about it!

    [Reply to this comment]

    amcken3 Reply:

    I use a Thermomix. It is VERY expensive but they are finding ALL plastic is toxic now, big shocker I know. I wasn’t surprised but then again when I was in college my parents read the book “A Cure for All Cancers” and it clearly stated the danger of all plastics in there. BPA free is meaningless really. Canada is the only place you can buy a Thermomix. My health is worth paying double the price, especially for something I will use daily.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Mary Ellen

    Thanks for the info about cooking the kale first and making the cubes. I had been adding in raw greens to my smoothies. I’ll have to make up some kale cubes this weekend!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sarah

    Thanks for the link! I’m just now catching up on blog-reading (and re-subscribing to certain blogs, ahem :) after the baby, and enjoying your posts as always!

    Best,
    Sarah

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Yay, Sarah! I hope all is well with new baby! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jennifer In PA

    Love this recipe. I made it for the first time today based on your blog. The smoothie was great. I bought alot of spinach this week and froze some including some in ice cubes for smoothies.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jessica

    Katie, what do you think about buying frozen spinach for these smoothies? I’m wondering if the packaged spinach is boiled and therefore not as healthy as steamed? In the long run health wise, is it that much of a difference? Thanks in advance for your thoughts! Jessica

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Ronnie

    Those kale cubes are a terrific idea! Thanks!!!

    Kale is at its best after the first frost, so we’re coming into peak season now. I’m going to keep an eye out for good prices and buy a bunch now that I know how to preserve it.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Judi

    I LOVE my Vita-Mix 5200. It was well worth the investment! My family loves the protein shakes and it’s easy to add veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds into recipes. It pulverizes whole foods including their skin, seeds, pith, leaves, and fiber.

    More than just a blender. The Vita-Mix makes juice from whole foods, cooks soup from scratch without a stove, mixes homemade ice-cream–and that’s just for starters! 10 kitchen appliances in one. It replaces your juicer, food processor, ice cream maker, and more.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Judi,
    Totally on my “wish list!” I really want to compare a Vitamix and a Blendtec, and I even have a proposal written and sent to both companies, but they are hard to get to call me back… Thanks for the encouragement on beets, too! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Hélène

    A vitamix will totally spoil u on blenders if u get one. I sold mine out of dire need about 7 yrs ago and have burnt through so many regular blenders now. Just a warning LOL. I miss making nutbutters too. The vitamixes are powerhouses! Just took me months and months to save up for it and now it’s impossible to save again…
    I used to be able to use my friend’s champion juicer too, for drinks. I loved the drinks. They were quite good.
    I make shakes using frozen greens too and feel sooooooooooooooo bad that I’m not using raw greens to do it. Well, wouldn’t ya know..it’s ok and actually better than RAW. God is good.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Hélène

    What’s your take though on the don’t eat high calcium foods, such as milk products, with high iron foods, like greens? The calcium is supposed to bind the iron so your body can’t use it.
    I don’t let my kids put milk on their oatmeal cuz I always put greens in there too. (its not a sweet oatmeal anyway, we put dulse and hardboiled egg in it too)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Helene,
    Now that is a very good point. I always try to avoid drinking milk with my chili or eggs because of this, but hadn’t given it much thought with kale. I googled kale and spinach quickly and found that the iron content in spinach is not actually all that high, and that kale contains “high” amounts of both iron AND calcium. Go figure. I guess you can’t always win! I also like to put milk with my oatmeal since they should be complementary proteins. But I don’t add greens in there either, so that’s another story.

    Good food for thought! Maybe a smoothie with just whey (is there calcium in whey? I don’t even know) or a bit of fruit juice or water would be a good thing to have in the rotation.
    thanks! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Gail Reply:

    I put my water kefir into my smoothies. Have been using fresh kale daily-guess I’ll have to modify that! I use a NutriBullet (not the Magic Bullet). For about $100 it’s a great smoothie maker, much better than a blender, which won’t work on heavier stuff.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Karen

    I love love love love love love my VitaMix! A steep price tag to start with, but neither my husband or I regret the purchase. Not only is it an almost daily smoothie/milkshake/whole fruit juice maker, I also use it grind grains (homemade baby food anyone?), puree cooked veggies, make coleslaw. You can even COOK soup in it. The powerful engine generates enough friction to heat soup! We’re a family of 7, though, and it’s only an 8 cup capacity so we’ll eventually grow out of soup. It also makes WONDERFUL peanut butter, mayonaise, butter… you name it! It comes with great recipe books as well – one for the “wet” blender and one for the “dry”, if you choose to purchase the “dry” blade one. We did, but I’ve heard since that you can grind grains fine with the “wet” blade. I haven’t tried since I have the “dry” blade container.
    Anyway, I just thought I’d let you know how much we love this machine. It makes eating whole foods so enjoyable and easy.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Karen Reply:

    Haha, just realized how old this blog post was. I linked to it from your most recent post, so I guess I just had it in mind that the green smoothie and the great blender incident was recent, too. I hope you found something by now! ;)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Karen,
    No problem about the old post comment – I still have a pretty junky blender but have my eyes set on a Vitamix or Blendtec when I have more space! Yee hah! ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Leah Johnson Reply:

    Katie – love your blog. I am steaming some kale as we speak and am going to try freezing in muffin tins since I presently don’t have ice cube trays (debating silicon versus stainless steel?). I began my real food journey about 3 months ago…it only took me 2 months into my journey to fry my cheap Black and Decker blender which previously got me through the first 3 years of my marriage until now! I was trying to make blender batter muffins and it did the poor thing in…I had known from the beginning of my journey I was going to need a better blender and had been agonizing over Vitamix versus Blendtec…well, breaking my blender forced me to go to Costco the next day and make a decision. They only had the Vitamix, no Blendtec, and it was a really good price and came with a $50 voucher to spend on an extra accessory or cookbook. I was sold. I am pretty sure I have used it every day since I bought it a month ago (sometimes multiple times per day). I have been able to delay buying a grain mill because it mills 2 cups of dry grains into fine flour like a champ (and this is with using the wet blade – still debating spending my voucher on a pitcher with a dry blade). It was money well spent and I am so glad I got it! I don’t think you can go wrong with either Vitamix or Blendtec. You will never want to use a regular blender again!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Leah,
    That’s awesome news! thanks! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Shar

    Love smoothies but didn’t know about the lightly steaming certain veggies info. I’m kind of lazy when it comes to extra steps in the kitchen but today when I was boiling some hard boiled eggs (from my beautiful backyard chickens) I had a bright idea to just place my metal colander filled up with kale on top of the steaming pot of hard boiled eggs while I prepared the rest of the goodies for tonight’s dinner. Then I can use my colander again when it’s time to drain the eggs. Easy peasy.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • amcken3

    Thanks for the recipe. I just wanted to say if you have LOW THYROID veggies like kale need to be cooked. I learned that the hard way. Was putting spinach and kale in my smoothies and juicing both and wondering why I felt SO tired all the time. I found out through a word of knowledge believe it or not! The Lord gave me the word “cruciferous” to look up when I asked him why I felt I needed to eat some vegetables cooked and others raw. It turns out for MANY people cruciferous vegetables must be cooked. Check it out, I was amazed!

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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