This post is by blog team member, Kelly. To learn more about Kelly, check out our team page!
As the holidays wind down, you may feel the need to remedy your overindulgences. Perhaps the latest cleanse or detox may sound appealing?
While I’m not a huge fan of many of these programs I think there are some reasons why certain options may be useful. For example, during a sugar detox you may learn all the places sugar hides. And there are certainly benefits for those who are able to sleuth out a food allergy or intolerance through a period of abstinence. But let’s be real! Most cleanse and detox programs are synonymous with diets, and they tend to induce a deprivation mindset and put the focus on all the things we should NOT eat.
Whether you’re planning a post-holiday detox or not, I believe it can be more beneficial to focus on what you ADD to your diet that will help you look and feel your best. This approach is not only more enjoyable, but it can also help you establish new habits that you might actually stick with long after your detox has ended.
So what should we ADD to our diet to help manage our weight and get healthier? Drum roll please… more leafy greens!
Leafy greens are the one food that pretty much all nutrition experts agree we should eat in abundance. Yet they are the vegetable that’s most frequently missing from the Standard American Diet (SAD)!
How do greens benefit our bodies?
Simply put, leafy greens are chock-full of good-for-you nutrition like calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, vitamins A, C, E and K, fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll plus many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Greens also aid in purifying the blood, strengthening the immune system, improving liver, gall bladder and kidney function, fighting depression, clearing congestion, improving circulation, keeping your skin clear and blemish free, as well as helping you manage your blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight.
What’s a quick, easy way to eat more greens?
Green Smoothies are a fast, easy, and delicious way to add more of this incredible nutrition into our diets! But be careful—not all green smoothies are created equal. To help you out, I’m sharing my formula for a truly “green” Green Smoothie PLUS a delicious recipe to get you started. And remember—there’s no reason to limit refreshing smoothies to just the warmer months of the year. So grab your high-powered blender and start remedying that holiday hangover today! 🙂
My Green Smoothie Formula:
Appetite for Healthy Change™ Green Smoothie Formula:
2 cups leafy greens + 1 cup frozen fruit + 2 tablespoons protein/healthy fat + 1 cup liquid
2 cups leafy greens – because a green smoothie contains mostly greens!
Choose one or more of the following (listed in order of mild to bitter taste): Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Parsley, Cilantro, Dandelion Greens. Other green veggies such as Cucumber and Celery also work great in smoothies.
1 cup frozen fruit – to sweeten it up and make it cold.
Use whatever fruit you like best. Berries of all varieties are great choices. Bananas and mangos are delicious in smoothies but both are higher in sugar, which is why it’s important not to skip the protein and healthy fat that (along with the fiber in the produce) will slow down the absorption of the sugar into your bloodstream. TIP: When your bananas start to go brown, peel and chop them into a few chunks and put them into individual freezer bags so you can easily grab one when you need it.
2 tablespoons protein/healthy fat – for added flavor, satiety and blood sugar control.
Choose from any of the following that count as both protein and healthy fat: Hemp, Chia or Flaxseed, Raw Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts, etc.) or Nut Butters (Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, etc.). Additional healthier, unprocessed fat options for smoothies include Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Coconut Butter, unsweetened Coconut Flakes, or 1/4 Avocado. I personally don’t love avocado on its own, but adding it to my smoothie works great. You don’t taste it, and it gives smoothies a delicious, creamy texture. TIP: When your avocado is perfectly ripe, peel and de-pit it and then mash it together with a teaspoon of lemon juice to keep it from browning. Then divide it into 4 small bowls and store in your freezer along with your other frozen fruit.
1 cup liquid – to bring it all together.
Good old plain water works great. Other options include unsweetened coconut water or an unsweetened milk of your choice (coconut, almond, etc). I personally avoid soy milk because of the potential dangers of processed soy, and dairy simply because-thanks to my love of cheese-I get enough in my diet already. TIP: Whatever you choose, avoid milks that contain the additive carrageenan since it has been linked to making people feel sick and impaired gastrointestinal health.
A little honey or a pitted date – for a touch of sweetness.
As you acquire a taste for Green Smoothies, you may need to start with a little more fruit or adding some sweetener like a teaspoon of raw honey or a pitted date or two. But please, try tasting your smoothie before adding a sweetener—the more you become accustomed to drinking your greens and finding combinations that taste good to you, the less likely you’re going to need this.
Get Creative with your Green Smoothies!
The possibilities for what to include in your green smoothie are endless. And fear not—there’s no need to get fancy with expensive “superfoods” or powdered concoctions when you’re starting a Green Smoothie habit. Greens, fruit, some protein/healthy fat and liquid are all you need. Green Smoothies with these components can work as a meal or a healthy snack.
Ready for my Mango Spinach Green Smoothie Recipe?
To get you started, I’m sharing one of my all-time favorite green smoothie recipes. Made with frozen mangoes, baby spinach, seeds, some milk or water, and a touch of honey, this green smoothie recipe is sure to please your entire family. So let’s get blending!
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup frozen mango
- 2 tablespoons hemp, flax, or chia seed
- 1 cup water, unsweetened coconut milk, or an unsweetened milk of your choice
- 1 teaspoon raw honey (optional)
- Add all the ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until well combined.
- Pour into a glass and enjoy!
If you don't have a high-powered blender, try blending your greens and liquid together first, then adding the remainder of the ingredients.
Kelly Harjes is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and founder of Appetite for Healthy Change™. Her mission is to inspire others to look and feel their best, feed their families well, and help improve our food system.
Kitchen Tips and Resources from Bruce:
- Most traditional blenders have enough oomph to mix up green smoothies, but investing in a high-powered blender is a great choice if you’re starting a green smoothie habit! Personally, I’m a huge fan of my Blendtec blender, but I know Kelly loves her Vitamix blender. And if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly high-powered blender, check out the Ninja—it has a lot of loyal fans out there too!
- Colored paper straws (like the one in the photo) can add some festive flair to your smoothie, but I find they sometimes don’t hold up too well when drinking an extra thick green smoothie. So if you’re looking for a sturdy, reusable, safe, and environmentally friendly option, check out these glass straws from Hummingbird.
- Traditional mason jars (or ones with handles) are a fun way to serve up green smoothies.