Melita Marcial-Schuster, D.O., DMU assistant professor of family medicine, and Joy Schiller, M.A., CHES, wellness director, provide plenty of reasons to try green and fruit smoothies. They’ve given great presentations on smoothies (with samples!) in our Wellness Center kitchen; below are their benefits, tips and recipes for adding this nutritious approach to your culinary repertoire. Take it from these two experts: Smoothies are a great way to power up your body and supercharge your health in just minutes a day.
Drinking green and fruit smoothies can:
• Improve your mental function
• Cleanse the digestive system
• Add antioxidants to your diet
• Reduce cholesterol
• Increase energy
• Lose weight
• Boost the immune system
• Detoxify the body
In addition, green smoothies provide protein, calcium, insoluble plant fiber that “sweeps” your GI tract, and chlorophyll that neutralizes body odors and bad breath and mops up free radicals.
When it comes to which “greens,” you have many options. Arugula is high in calcium, vitamin C and beta-carotene. Beet greens are high in iron, calcium and vitamin C. Bok choy is high in vitamins A and C and contains sulfurophane, which protects against cancer. Broccoli rabe is in the highest class of cancer-fighting compounds. Cabbage also contains sulfurophane; chard, vitamins A and C; collard greens, B vitamins, calcium, vitamin C and beta carotene; and that “top 10” power food, kale, provides high fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and C.
Spinach, which is coming into season, also is very versatile. More than 42 percent protein, it contains folic acid, iron and vitamins A, C and E. Because it’s high in oxalic acid, which can bind calcium and iron, use a variety of greens rather than spinach alone.
To sweeten your green smoothies, use any fruit, fresh or frozen. Then have fun with these “superfood” additions and their benefits:
- Acai berries: antioxidants, anthocyanins
- Aloe vera: immune-stimulating effects, vitamin B12, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal
- Avocado: good fat
- Bee pollen: increases energy, stimulates metabolism, suppresses appetite, may prevent seasonal allergies
- Brewer’s (nutritional) yeast: grown on barley, high in protein, rich in B vitamins
- Cayenne pepper: opens arteries and may prevent cardiac events
- Chia seed: 40 percent omega 6 oil; slows conversion of carbohydrates into sugars
- Chocolate, raw: high antioxidants
- Coconut oil, liquid or meat: antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral properties
- Flax oil: minerals from greens are absorbed better when eaten with some fats
- Ginger: anti-inflammatory, digestive-function strengthening, anti-nausea properties
- Goji berries: 13 percent protein, several B vitamins, vitamin E, 18 amino acids, high antioxidants
- Sprouts: enzyme-packed powerhouses
- Wheat germ, raw: high vitamin E and B vitamins
- Wheatgrass juice: oxygenating, thus it helps with healing
- Yogurt or kefir: populates GI tract with good micro-organisms
If you want additional sweetness beyond the fruit you’re using, try stevia, agave nectar, dates, honey or maple syrup.
Now that you’ve got the basics, try these five smoothies. Let the blenderizing begin!
Melita Marcial-Schuster’s green smoothies template recipe
Makes 8 cups of 100 percent raw smoothies
Tips: For beginners and those trying to covert children, consider using less greens and more fruit (especially berries and bananas) in the beginning, gradually working up to a 50/50 ratio as described here. In this transition phase, use just the mild flavors like spinach, kale, collards and chard. With kids, consider using only spinach the first few days, then sneak in chard, collards and kale gradually. Add other savory or bitter greens only when your family members are affirmed fans of green smoothies. Add a bit more water if you feel the smoothies are to thick.
Put 2½ cups filtered water in a Blandtec Total Blender. Optionally, add:
• ½ teaspoon stevia (herbal sweetener) or ¼ cup raw, organic agave nectar (low glycemic index)
• ¼ whole lemon, including peel (anti-skin cancer, high in flavonoids)
• 2-3 tablespoons fresh, refrigerated flax oil (omega-3 rich oil)
Gradually add until, briefly pureed, the mixture comes up to the 5-cup line (or less if you’re “converting”) ¾ to 1 pound raw washed greens, added up to 5½ cup line:
- Spinach, chard, kale, collards are your mainstays
- Turnips, mustard, dandelion greens, arugula—use freely
- Try avocado or cabbage or 1-2 stalks celery
Puree the greens mixture for 90 seconds, until very smooth. Gradually add fruit until the container is very full (8 cups or more); blend 90 seconds or until smooth:
• 1-2 bananas to add a creamy texture and sweetness
• 1-2 cups of frozen mixed berries (tastes wonderful and makes the smoothie purple rather than green)
• Any other fruit to taste: our favorites are pears and peaches, but also apples, oranges, apricots, cantaloupes (with seeds—very high in antioxidants!) mangoes, pineapples, anything!
The more frozen fruit you add, the tastier your smoothies will be, and the Blendtec Total Blender can handle it. You can save your smoothies in the fridge for up to two days—just shake well before drinking.
- 1½ cups coconut milk beverage, such as Silk
- ½ cup soft silken tofu
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
Place all ingredients in blender in order listed; blend 30 seconds, or until smooth. If mixture is too thick, blend in additional coconut milk or water.
Walnuts possess more heart-healthy omega-3 fats than any other nut. No walnuts in your pantry? You can also try buzzing walnut butter into the mix.
- 1¼ cup coconut water
- ½ medium Hass avocado, pitted, flesh scooped out
- 2 tablespoons walnuts
- 1½ tsp lime juice
- ¾ cup frozen mango cubes
Place all ingredients in blender in order listed, and blend 30 seconds, or until smooth.
Schiller the Killer (cashew shake)
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 banana
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup soy milk or almond milk
- ½ cup cashews or any other nuts
- Sweetener to taste, like honey or stevia (optional)
Place ingredients in a blender. Puree the mixture for 90 seconds or until ingredients are very smooth.
Handful of fresh mint (about ¼ cup)
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup spinach
¼ cup water or club soda
Ice (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons honey
Add all the ingredients to the blender in the order listed. Start with a small quantity of ice (a few ice cubes), blend for a while, then taste. Add more ice if you want a thicker consistency or add more water if it is too thick and hard to blend.