Tips for Tastier Green Smoothies

I’ve been painting Doorway Number 10 all week and will post photos soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d post some quick tips to make green smoothies more interesting. Summer offers wonderful fresh produce, especially greens and fruit — perfect for this little health food staple. If you’re like me, though, you might feel a little tired of green smoothies, even with your farmer’s market stash. I’ve drunk some form of green smoothie on most days for the past five years. Sometimes even varied fruit and greens seem … boring. Even superfoods, fruit and greens … dull.

I realized while talking with some friends about this dilemma that I’ve found easy ways around it with essential oils, teas and unusual flavor combinations. You can dramatically alter your smoothie experience with a little knowledge and experimentation. Here are some of my favorite combos:

Acai-cacao-blueberry-peppermint

Acai tastes like a combination of blueberries and chocolate, so when you add those flavors in with the acai, the flavors really pop! I like to use fresh mint as the green in these smoothies, but I’ve also used Romaine or spinach and just added 3 drops of peppermint essential oil. Adding some cinnamon powder or essential oil brings out even more flavor dimensions in this combo.

cilantro-anise
I am drinking this right now, actually. Many people find cilantro a difficult green to drink, but it chelates Mercury and other heavy metals, so it’s worth the effort. I’ve found that cilantro tastes good with frozen pineapples or frozen mangos, and it tastes good with pretty much anything if you add 3 drops of anise essential oil. Something about the licorice flavor of the anise brings out depths of flavor in the cilantro for a total wow experience. I just have frozen bananas as my base today, along with a hint of acai, anise, and even some maca. Normally, maca-cilantro would taste disgusting as a sweet smoothie, but the anise cuts the flavor and makes it seem complexly sweet. Anise also has a side benefit of helping with bloating or gas that some people experience with too much liquid or poor food combining.

maca-cacao

On its own, maca is not the most smoothie-friendly ingredient because it tastes like radish. Put too much of it in your kale smoothie and you risk a total blech reaction. But maca-combined with cacao creates an almost magical experience.

maca-spirulina-cinnamon

Another example of combining flavors in order to transform the yuck factor into an amazing “yum!”

schizandra berries

These things are totally tart. I can put one, possibly two into a smoothie, but no more unless I’ve made a tea and sweetened it with stevia. The cool thing about schizandra (other than the fact that I wrote a novel about Schizandra Ginger Parker) is that it is known as the “5-flavored berry.” This means that it can amplify or adjust whatever flavors you combine with it. If your green smoothie were wine, you could say schizandra would enhance the “bouquet.”

cinnamon

This spice deserves its own little blurb. Not only does it add depth, sweetness and spiciness to just about any flavor combination, but it also helps to regulate blood sugar. If you use essential oil, a couple drops will give good flavor. If you use the spice itself, 1 tsp-1 tbsp will transform your smoothie. Err on the side of caution first and add as desired. Cinnamon works best as a subtle flavor but can easily become the dominant one if used too heavily.

chai tea

I’ve written on this before as a way of transforming dandelion greens, figs and apples into a cider-like concoction. The rich flavors of chai tea also make a nice, chilled background to tropical fruit based smoothies. Because cilantro is used sometimes in Indian cooking, chai tea also works well in making that one more palatable to the unitiated. ๐Ÿ˜‰

zucchini

I learned about this from Melissa Mango. If you want to create a creamy consistency without the heavy fats or adding tons of bananas, you can peel (or not peel) a zucchini and add it into your blender. It has very little flavor on its own but will bulk up your drink into a thicker experience.

cucumber

One of my favorite smoothie add-ons, especially in summer for its cooling effects. Cucumber also has lots of silica in the peel, so buy organic and use unpeeled if possible.

frozen bananas

This one seems obvious but it’s a godsend on a hot summer afternoon without air conditioning. Freezing bananas also ensures you always have some fruit on hand for those “forgot to go produce shopping” moments. Peel and break them into pieces first! They are a staple, but I find that ANY smoothie tastes much better cold.

Other Random Tips

A few other superfast things I’ve been doing lately:

spirulina pudding: 1 avocado mashed together with 1-2 TBSP spirulina powder, and a sweetener of your choice (agave, stevia, xylitol). Bliss out!

maca-cacao-goji pudding: 1 avocado mashed together with 1-2 TBSP maca powder and 1-2 TBSP cacao powder, plus sweetener of your choice. I usually just use 1 packet of stevia. Top with optional goji berries.

fruit salad on bitter greens: if you hate the bitterness of uber-healthy dandelion greens or arugula, try topping them with fresh strawberries, peaches and raspberries. You won’t even need a dressing.

dandelion pesto: a healthier take on the basil version and a good way to get these supergreens into your system. I make mine with an entire bunch of dandelion greens, a tablespoon of olive oil, juice of half a lemon, a hint of walnut oil if available, some raw walnuts, pinch of himalyan sea salt and either a bit of cinnamon honey, or just the tiniest dusting of cinnamon and a packet of xylitol. Process in a food processor until reasonably smooth, but still a little crunchy. Serve on portabella mushrooms topped with tomato and parsley, or as a sauce for zucchini or brown rice pasta.

kim chee guacamole

Add your own or store bought kim chee to an avocado and eat with a salad or tortilla chips. You won’t even need to spice it because the tangy, spicy kim chee makes it taste a bit like salsa guacamole (with the advantage of probiotics). This one is more hard core than the other recipes, but I’m sharing it for those people who, like me, really love fermented foods — or at least wish they did!

For more super-easy tips from me, as well as lots of awesome raw chefs, please see The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide. Enjoy Summer’s bounty!

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mindy on July 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Oh, I just ate the last bit of Kimchee, and I have ripe avocados! I definitely want to try this spicy guacamole variation!

    I love using herbs as a base for green smoothies. My favorite is 1 bunch of cilantro, two mangoes blended with 2 cups of water. Electric green and creamy goodness – very refreshing.

    I made a really great one recently.
    For the fruit:
    1 small pineapple.
    1 banana
    1 whole lime, peeled
    For the greens:
    cilantro
    Thai basil
    fresh mint
    Predominantly cilantro, but I loved the addition of the basil and mint. SO refreshing.

    Thanks for the tips Laura.

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  2. Posted by Mindy on July 17, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    You’re welcome! Here is one more of my recent creations. ( Mostly I use recipes I find here and there. This one and the pineapple one I made up myself).

    Cherry-Orange!
    2 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice
    About 2 handfuls of baby spinach
    About 1 handful of red butter lettuce
    About 3 cups of fresh pitted cherries
    2 large, succulent fresh brown turkey figs

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    Reply

  3. Posted by lasaslav on July 17, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    These are all such great tips, Laura. I feel like printing these out and going to the grocery store!

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    Reply

  4. Maca Spirulina and Cinnamon — well the cinnamon bit will indeed give it that nice aroma, but I’m thinking maybe of adding something else like wheatgrass or some tangy taste (just a personal preference). I wouldn’t mind looking at the local organic store or maybe buy whole foods online like http://goo.gl/g1Jxl

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