These past couple of weeks we’ve seen just enough sunshine to remind us that winter will soon be coming to an end and Spring will be here! Yay! I don’t know about you, but Spring gets me into Spring cleaning: The house, office, farm buildings, the pantry, and my body!
You may know I’m a bit of a juicing junkie. I’ve always preferred juice to smoothies, as I feel that you get a greater concentration of phytochemicals faster in a green juice than in a smoothie. I may be a little biased too, as the smoothies I’ve been served over the years have invariably contained lots of dairy and felt way too heavy. Those Jamba juice wonders can have 1000 calories! Plus, I’ve always been too cheap to buy a decent blender so my kale smoothies inevitably left me reaching for the dental floss!!!
That all changed two weeks ago, when my dear husband bought me a vitamix at our local Costco. I now see why vitamix advocates act a bit like rabid squirrels. A vitamix smoothie is quite a different experience than one done in my old Cuisinart blender!
While I still love my juice, I can see that smoothies can be an amazing part of any holistic nutrition and wellness program. They keep you full longer than juice, since they retain the fiber of the whole food. Plus, a high speed high power juicer literally pulverizes the material, making the phytochemicals more bioavailable than from a smoothie made in a regular blender. You can see, smell, and feel the difference. And you can get your kids and spouses to drink them! (Hint – I put my kale smoothies in a ceramic lidded cup so dear daughter can’t see that it’s green!)
We’ve been starting each day with a kale-based smoothie for the last two weeks and are all feeling more energetic and super virtuous! Have your smoothie on an empty stomach then wait until you are hungry to eat to let your digestive enzymes work their magic on these fruit based smoothies.
Kale is one of the superfoods – chock full of phytochemicals that are good for what ails you, including tons of fiber, omega-3’s, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, cancer-preventing nutrients called glucosinolates and lots of micronutrients.
My friends know I don’t really follow recipes – I see recipes as suggestions or ideas only. But I know it helps to have something to start from. What I discovered when I started looking for recipes was that lots of smoothie recipes are high calorie, high fat, and full of dairy. So over the past few weeks I’ve come up with some great smoothie “recipes” that are dairy free, lower in calories, and still taste delicious!
Note that raw kale does contain a small amount of oxalates, but not enough to affect anyone with a healthy digestive system. One smoothie with baby kale a day is probably fine, but eating 40-lb of kale a day probably isn’t. Its all a matter of moderation no matter what you eat. That said, if you have kidney or gallbladder issues, there is a small chance the oxalates could crystallize so it may be best to avoid it in large quantities. Also while oxalates can reduce absorption of a small percentage of the calcium, its not enough to avoid it. Its so hard to get vegan sources of calcium that I still think its a fantastic addition to any smoothie!
Note: ALWAYS use organic produce. Its better for your body and the planet. Better yet, use produce you grown yourself when ever you can (Hey, I’m a master gardener so I have to plug the grow your own movement!)
Here are my top five kale smoothie recipes:
- Tropical Kale Smoothie: Baby kale (2-cups), pineapple (1-cup fresh), orange (1-whole), mango (1-cup fresh), chia seeds (2-T), fiber (2-scoops Arbonne daily fiber boost), unsweetened coconut water (1-cup), crushed ice (1-cup). Add all ingredients to blender in order and blend, gradually increasing speed to high then blending for 30 seconds. Serves 2. 274 calories per serving. 58 grams carbs, 5 grams fat, 6 grams protein. 22 grams fiber.
- Kale Cherry Berry: Baby kale (2-cups), orange (1-whole), frozen organic cherries (1/2 cup), frozen organic blackberries (1/2-cup), unsweetened coconut water (1-cup). Add all ingredients to blender in order and blend, gradually increasing speed to high then blending for 30 seconds. Serves 2. 108 calories per serving. 30.4 grams carbs, 0.4 grams fat, 2.9 grams protein, 5.5 grams fiber, 15.9% daily vitamin A, 90.5% daily vitamin C, 29.1% daily calcium, 5.7% daily iron.
- Kale Vanilla Pineapple Protein: Baby kale (2-cups), pineapple (1-cup fresh), chia seeds (2-T), fiber (1-scoop Arbonne daily fiber boost), vegan protein powder (I use 1-scoop of Arbonne vanilla protein shake powder which is a cranberry brown rice and yellow pea protein blend), unsweetened coconut water (1-cup), crushed ice (1-cup). Add all ingredients to blender in order and blend, gradually increasing speed to high then blending for 30 seconds. Serves 2. 206 calories per serving. 34 grams carbs, 5 grams fat, 9.4 grams protein, 13.3 grams fiber, 13.9% of daily vitamin A, 105.5% daily vitamin C, 21.8% of daily calcium, and 10.2% of daily iron.
- Green Monster: Baby kale (2-cups), pear (1-whole medium), apple (1-whole medium), kiwi (1-whole medium), crushed ice (1-cup). Add all ingredients to blender in order and blend, gradually increasing speed to high then blending for 30 seconds. Serves 2. 248 calories per serving. 49 grams carbs, 2 grams fat, 12.5 grams protein, 7.7 grams fiber. 188% of daily vitamin C, 20.7% of daily calcium, and a smidge of iron (5.2% of daily allowance).
- Kale Raspberry Vanilla: Baby kale (2-cups), raspberries (1-cup), 1-scoop of Arbonne vanilla protein shake powder, coconute water (1/2 cup), crushed ice (1-cup). Add all ingredients to blender in order and blend, gradually increasing speed to high then blending for 30 seconds. Serves 1. 200 calories per serving. 31.7 grams carbs, 10.5 grams fiber, 3 grams fat, 13.5 grams protein, 26.8% daily vitamin A, 171.2% daily vitamin C, 27.1% daily calcium, and 10.7% daily iron.
You can up the protein to any by adding one or more scoops of protein powder, increase omega-3s by adding chia seeds, and increase fiber with more scoops of fiber powder. I also add probiotic powder to every smoothie.
All nutrition info is calculated on myfitnesspal.com, which I use to track what I’m eating. For more information on kale, visit: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=38#nutritionalprofile
What’s your favorite Kale smoothie mixture?