I have not by any measure listed ALL the greens you could be using in your smoothies. These are the top ten that I rotate through frequently and have used in the recipes. There are many others. Feel free to explore any green you like. Always start in small quantities—a fraction of a handful—and taste the green by itself to judge the level of bitterness before tossing it in.
Here are the top ten greens of choice that I recommend starting with. Greens are a subset of
vegetables that are mainly dark and leafy and lightweight. The list is in no particular order:
Spinach: Spinach is the one green that you will hardly ever taste in your smoothie. It is the ultimate starter green if you are new to smoothies. It is also one of the most nutrient-rich leafy greens. It is easy to find spinach in just about any store, it’s pretty affordable, and full of minerals and phytonutrients. It’s an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium, and vitamin B6. Spinach is also a very good source of protein, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc, dietary fiber, and copper.
Kale: Kale is a little harder to find, but it’s becoming more popular. It lasts longer than spinach in the fridge because of its thicker texture. It comes in several different types, and all are perfectly fine for smoothies. You can take off the stem to remove some of the bitterness. Kale is stronger than spinach but not bitter, per se. Kale is low in calories; high in iron and vitamin K, vitamin A, and calcium; and filled with antioxidants. Incorporate this in your smoothies over time.
Parsley: Parsley is a beautiful herb; it can have a strong yet flavorful taste, but it’s also perfect for
reducing sweetness in a smoothie if need be, and it works with all fruits and veggies. Parsley is a
great source of folic acid, an important B vitamin that your body needs. Similar to kale, it’s a great
source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron. Parsley is not a garnish. Eat your parsley or throw a
handful in your smoothie to make it super green and super healthy.
Cilantro: You either love or hate cilantro. I happen to love it. If you haven’t had it, taste it before
using it in your smoothies. Cilantro is a great herb that opens up the flavor of food, and it can add a
nice taste to your smoothies. Use just a small handful if you choose it as an ingredient. Cilantro is rich in magnesium, iron, and phytonutrients; helps reduce blood sugar; and is a very healing herb.
Lettuce: Try not to use iceberg lettuce, as it is void of any nutrition. Romaine lettuce is the best and most nutritious type of lettuce, and it blends beautifully in your smoothies. You can also explore other types of lettuce, such as Boston lettuce, red or green leaf lettuce, or escarole. All the lettuce recipes in this book use romaine lettuce. Romaine has vitamins C and K and is brilliant for weight loss, as well as being a great source of potassium.
Dandelion: These leafy greens are strong and bitter, so adopt them slowly into your routine. They are there if you want to kick things up a notch. Dandelions have spinach beat with their iron content (but spinach wins on the vitamin C and folate scales!), plus they are a great source of vitamin A, E (not common in all greens), and K. Including a couple of dandelion leaves sparingly will add some kick to your smoothies and help you rotate those greens. Again, start with small doses until you’re comfortable with their taste.
Collard greens: With their thick skin and large leaves, these are pretty giant to buy and store, but so good for you. Collard greens have a milder taste than kale, and they have similar levels of vitamin A,vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, folate, and magnesium as the other greens listed here. Even though these greens are not as sexy and adored as spinach and kale, they are a powerhouse of nutrition, and it’s best to include them in your greens rotation.
Basil: A highly fragrant herb, it can add flavor and aroma to your smoothies, plus it has its fair share of antioxidants and a good source of Vitamin K. It also helps with digestion and can be good for your skin. It is an expensive herb, so use it whenever you have access to it.
Mint: Also a highly fragrant herb, mint is a lovely addition to your smoothies. Mint’s best known for
helping with indigestion, and it gives you good breath. Mint is also rich in manganese, vitamin A, andvitamin C. It also is a good source of fiber, folate, iron, vitamin B2, potassium, and copper, and it isdelicious. You already know the taste of mint, so using it in your smoothies should be fun and easy.
Carrot tops: Did you know carrots actually have green tops? You don’t always see them in the store, but if you shop at your farmer’s market, that’s how they sell carrots. You’ll want to save and use those beautiful long carrot tops as a green for your smoothies. They are strong and somewhat bitter, but highly nutritious, and even one or two stalks are enough to get you started.