I start almost every morning with a green smoothie. Lately that’s meant a mix of oats and chia seeds soaked in water overnight, plain yogurt, kale, frozen mango and peaches, lots of fresh ginger, almond butter, and coconut flakes. When I have fresh mint, I add that too, and sometimes I sprinkle in some turmeric or a pinch of cardamom or a spoonful of coconut oil or a scoop of matcha powder. And sometimes, especially after a long day of cooking and eating at work, I make a second green smoothie for dinner.
When I don’t have time to make my smoothie at home, I make a big batch in the Epi test kitchen and pass cute Ball jars out to the entire food team. I won’t name names, but at least two of my fellow Epi editors—both talented cooks—have no idea how to go about making a palatable green smoothie themselves.
They’re worried about how to avoid gross chunky textures, about bitter flavors, and about whether or not they should use ice. So this edition of No Recipe Required is for them. But also, of course, for you, because all you need for perfect green smoothies is my simple ratio. And not a recipe.
START WITH THE LIQUID
No matter how powerful your blender is, it will work better if you put the liquid in the bottom of the blender jar. You want about 1 cup of liquid for each person you’re serving.
Your liquid can be a yogurt-water mix, keifer, coconut milk, almond milk, buttermilk, or any other kind of milk you like. You can also use brewed tea as long as it’s cold (mint tea or green tea can be especially nice). Or how about cold brew coffee, maybe with a little milk stirred in? Pick whatever liquid you like, but try to stay away from sweetened liquids—the fruit will lend enough sweetness on its own.
ADD AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF GREENS
Whatever amount of liquid you added to your blender, add the same amount of leafy greens on top of the liquid. So if you used one cup of liquid, use one cup of tightly packed greens. Really pack them into your measuring vessel tightly to make sure you’re actually getting enough in there. This is a green smoothie, after all.
Spinach and kale are my favorite smoothie-friendly greens. If you’re using kale, be sure to remove the thick stems—they don’t blend very well. Pre-washed baby spinach or baby kale are the most convenient options of course, but you can really use any leafy green you like—romaine, collards, swiss chard, or a mix—as long as you remove any thick stems. Fresh green herbs count, too. I’m especially fond of mint in my smoothies, but parsley or cilantro are also winners.
MAKE FROZEN FRUIT YOUR FRIEND
You want your smoothie to be cool and icy, but what you don’t want to do is add ice. Let me repeat that: Please don’t add ice to your smoothie. It can be hard on your blender, and it will only dilute your smoothie’s flavor. Instead, use frozen fruit. If you’re ambitious you can chop and freeze your own ripe fruit or berries, but I like the convenience of the packaged stuff.
To the one part liquid and greens, add a part and a half frozen fruit to your blender. At least half of that fruit should be frozen. For frozen fruits, try bananas, mango, peaches, pineapple, or any kind of berry. For fresh, consider apples, and also oranges, which add a nice bit of juiciness. And don’t overlook the avocado fruit—it adds a wonderful creaminess.
Finally, remember lemons and limes! You don’t need much of these—just a little section—but they can add a nice bit of zing to your smoothie.
BOOST AND FLAVOR AS DESIRED
If you’ve ever ordered a smoothie from a juice or smoothie bar, you’re familiar with the idea of “boosts.” You can add an “energy boost” for $1. Or a “protein boost”. Or a “fiber boost”. At home, you don’t have to pay $1 per boost, so you can add as many or as few as you like. For me, this category also includes anything that will boost the flavor of my smoothie. A little goes a long way with most these things, so you don’t have to worry about them compromising the texture or integrity of your smoothie.
Want to add some extra fiber? Soak a small handful of oats in water overnight (or even just for ten minutes) and add to your blender. Or add a spoonful of chia seeds to those oats, or just go for the chia seeds on their own. You can also add a spoonful of flax seeds (ground, or whole) to your blender. If it’s protein you’re after, a spoonful of nut butter is your new best friend. You can also add an unsweetened protein powder if you like. For some extra healthy fat, a small spoonful of coconut oil is good, and adds a nice creamy texture and flavor to your smoothie. A spoonful of any other health-boosting ingredient you’re into can get tossed into your smoothie at this point too as you wish: vitamin C powder, gelatin powder, maca powder, bee pollen, acai—I’ll leave that up to you.
To boost the flavor, don’t forget a pinch of salt. A small handful of fresh chopped ginger or turmeric is great for flavor (and good for you too!). To get a chocolaty flavor going (especially good if you’re using raspberries and bananas as your fruit) add a spoonful of cocoa powder and/or cocoa nibs. Raid your spice cupboard for flavorings too: a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, or even a splash of vanilla extract can do wonders for punching up the flavor of your smoothie.
GIVE IT A WHIRL
Once everything is in the blender jar, start blending! Give it longer than you might think you need to get it nice and smooth—it can take up to three minutes depending on the strength of your blender. Then open it up, have a taste, and adjust the seasoning and flavoring as needed. If it’s not sweet enough for your taste, add a bit more fruit or a splash of sweetener. If it’s too thick for your taste, add a splash more water. If it’s too thin, add more frozen fruit and greens. Blend again, and enjoy!
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