Monday, December 12, 2011

68% of Your Vitamin C, 100% Off-Topic

New rule at The Beheld as of December 2011: Every 230th post or so, I can do something that has absolutely nothing to do with beauty. Whaddya say? Will it sweeten the deal if it's LEAFY GREENS THAT TASTE LIKE A MILKSHAKE?

I first encountered the green smoothie--a fruit-based smoothie that has a good amount of leafy greens thrown in but that somehow manages to taste not like leafy greens but instead LIKE A MILKSHAKE--at a health food store near my old office. I was trying to eat more leafy greens, and since I don't really cook that meant I was eating lots and lots of salads (a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, without asking what I ate every day, once told me my condition was due to "too many salads and bananas," and advised I cut those out, plus sex, but whatevs). I'd gotten into kale on a theoretical basis (so good for you!) but not on a practical one (takes so long to cook! I mean, it takes like eight minutes, but I am impatient) and was torn between two worlds, so when I saw a smoothie on the menu that involved banana, almond milk, honey, cinnamon, and kale, I got all jazzed up, ordered it, and floated back to the office in an ethereal delight of green vegetables THAT TASTED LIKE A MILKSHAKE.

Now, buying a green smoothie every day would be cost-prohibitive. But it turns out I'm far from alone in coming to rely on these to get in a good amount of vitamins, and the Internet is chock full of recipes on how to make them yourself. Perhaps I am too late for the ball, but I'm going to show up with my recipe anyway.

All you really need is a liquid, some greens, some fruit, and a blender. There are other things you can put in to taste, but those are the basics. Here's my standard recipe, with variations below.

Green Smoothie
  • 1/3 cup coconut water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 banana, preferably frozen (peel it before you freeze it)
  • 1/3 cup frozen fruit (I love mango, but it's up to you)
  • 1 tablespoon honey OR one pitted date
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger (I keep peeled ginger in the freezer; easier to grate)
  • 3 cups fresh spinach OR 2 cups shredded kale
  • 3 ice cubes

Directions: Put coconut water, lemon juice, banana, fruit, honey or date, cinnamon, sea salt, vanilla, and ginger in blender. Blend, pulsing as needed to get the chunks of fruit broken up. Puree until mixture is smooth. Put in one cup of spinach, pressing down with a spatula to immerse it as much as possible in the fruit puree. Blend. Repeat process with remaining two cups of spinach. Once all spinach has been mixed in, throw in the ice cubes. Puree for one minute to make it super-smooth LIKE A MILKSHAKE.

There are about a zillion variations, but this is my standard. You can use fruit juice instead of the coconut water; you can use whatever fruit or greens you like; you can throw in herbs for more zing (cilantro is particularly nice, especially with grapefruit juice subbed in for the coconut water). If you're hard-core you can omit the honey or date, but really, why would you? I sometimes throw in a pinch of stevia too, to make it a hair sweeter.

If you find it difficult to use up all your greens before they go bad, you can also do this with frozen spinach--I just throw it in frozen, actually, no defrosting or anything. With that you'll need a lot more liquid and you can omit the ice cubes; it's much thicker this way, LIKE A REALLY THICK MILKSHAKE. Note that it's easier to use the kind of frozen spinach that's loose in the package instead of the kind that's been formed into a solid brick, as that makes it more difficult to get into the blades of the blender.

A note on blenders: This works just fine with a regular blender. I made the one in the picture with my fellow's Cuisinart, but he only has said Cuisinart because I gave him mine after I discovered the Ninja, which might be the world's best blender (besides a VitaMix, which really is the best blender in the world, but which is $600 and frankly not worth it unless someone else is footing the bill, as was the case when I used it back in my restaurant days). It's great because the power unit is separate from the blades, so there's zero risk of accidentally turning it on when you're poking around with a spoon to get the spinach wet enough to get it to puree along with the fruit. The only downside is that you can't just drop in ingredients; you have to lift off the power unit every time you want to access the ingredients, but it's such a good blender that you won't need to do this often (i.e. you won't need to stir it a lot, and in fact if you have a Ninja you can put in all the greens at once instead of doing them in batches).

You can throw in whatever supplements you like--I do put in omega-3 oils sometimes (and, just to make this related to my usual work, I do find it makes my skin all soft and glowy)--but that's up to you. It's nutritious as-is (63% of your daily vitamin A, 68% of your vitamin C, half your B6, etc., using 3 cups spinach) so that's just a bonus. But really, all this is beside the point; I'd drink this even if it didn't have all those vitamins, because it tastes LIKE A MILKSHAKE, and really I just wanted to share my daily treat with you, because sometimes we need a break from sociology, feminism, economics, and business talk (hey, not to brag but I'm sort of thrilled that my post about the lipstick index was republished not only at Jezebel but also at Business Insider, a publication I never thought would see my byline) to talk fake milkshakes.


  1. Yum! I love a green smoothie, but shy away from making them at home because I honestly thought I needed a vitamix to make kale taste like a milkshake...thanks for the tip!

    I am a fan of the Sunwarrior, almond milk and frozen mixed berries smoothie. It would be delicious if it had some greens in it as well. I am hungry.

    It was SO great seeing you in real time the other night. Such a fun evening catching up with old friends.

  2. Cameo, I thought so too about the Vitamix, but no! I think most green smoothie people just think that's the case, but really you don't need one at all. And YES on seeing you the other night! Love it, my blogger buddy!

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