NMP#40: Why Green Smoothies Matter for Health

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Today on the Namely Marly Podcast I’m talking about Why Green Smoothies Matter. If you’re curious about the health benefits, how to make them, or ways to make them a part of your every day, listen in for more information. Also, be sure to check out my discussion with the No-Meat Athlete, Matt Frazier on the High-Performing Vegan Athlete or my talk with Rachael Hutchings about Autoimmune Disease and Plant-Based Diets.

Why Green Smoothies Matter: a guide to adding more smoothies to your day every day.

Today I’m talking smoothies. specifically why green smoothies matter. Have you ever found yourself wondering what this whole smoothie thing is all about? Have you ever asked yourself why green smoothers matter? I mean, what’s the big, fat deal? Right?

You also might be curious about the difference between smoothies and juices. Well, I’m going to share about that too. And I’m going to share about the health benefits of smoothies. Of course.

You can read the content below on why green smoothies matter or feel free to listen to the free podcast version.

Why Green Smoothies Matter

You can’t really talk about smoothies without talking about the health benefits. Because  honestly, do you think we’d be drinking a big glass o’ green for nothing?

I don’t think so.

There better be some massive payoff, aka health benefits, to make us do that and you’ll see below my thoughts on that. I’m even going to talk about some of my favorite ingredients in smoothies along with my tried and true basic smoothie recipe from which most of my smoothies originate.

Also, do smoothies make you skinny? Come on. We all want to know that. Right?

You know I love talking with about creative, authentic living, and vegan diets too. That said, we’re going to be adding another topic – how to live green. In the current environment and with the current political situation, I think it’s more important than ever for each of us to become passionate about the environment and the things we can do as individuals to make a difference.

But, for today we are talking about why green smoothies matter. You know, when you fill a blender full of dark green leafy veggies and blend it up and drink it. Of course, we add more to it than just greens, but we’ll get more into that in just a bit.

New Year’s Resolutions

At the end of the year I always ask Shawn and Adee what their new year’s resolutions will be. Shawn is not typically a “resolutions” kind of guy, but this year he surprised me with a couple. One of them was he wanted to have more smoothies. I think it’s because we both realize the importance of getting those greens in. And the occasional salad with his meal just wasn’t cutting it.

It also helps that I showed him a video from Rhonda Patrick on the nutrients found in her favorite smoothie (see link below). Her podcast, Found My Fitness, is one of my favorites. She has a Ph.D. in biomedical science and she has done extensive research on aging, cancer, and nutrition. I love brainiacs.

In her video she talks about ALL the health benefits of her smoothie recipe. I showed that to Shawn and we discussed why green smoothies matter, and we’ve been having regular smoothies ever since.

I learned about smoothies a long time ago, even before I met Shawn. And I’ve had them off and on over the years. But having your partner equally interested and invested in health living, sure is helpful. Because making them for him and myself somehow makes them easier to do.

I highly encourage finding an accountability partner or someone else who is equally inspired about smoothies.

Green Tea Banana Smoothie - it's a smooth criminal!

My Basic Smoothie Recipe

Here’s my basic smoothie recipe:

  • I put a tablespoon or so of hemp seeds into a blender (you could do almonds here or cashews). To that I add a cup of water. And I blend it. You can see here that basically what you have is a cup of plant-based milk. You can use this milk for baking, or pouring over your cereal (although I’d at a teaspoon or so vanilla if I was going to use it in something like cereal), etc.
  • To that plant-based milk I add one or two bananas. It depends on how sweet you want your smoothie. Blend this. By the way this banana milk is pretty tasty stuff on its own.
  • Then I fill the blender up with greens. I’m going to share later about where I get my greens and which ones I use.
  • Next I add a tablespoon or two of ground flax seed. Sometimes I’ll add a tablespoon or so of plant-based protein powder. It just depends on what kind of flavor I’m looking for. Blend everything until you’re left with a creamy green smoothie.
  • Finally, I add 1 — 2 cups of crushed ice and blend that in and voila. You’ve got my very basic green smoothie.

Here are some of my favorite ways to add to this basic smoothie recipe:

  • I add a cup or two of chopped frozen pineapple chunks to turn this into a Pina Colada Smoothie. I’m going to share with you my favorite way to prepare pineapples in a minute
  • Feel free to replace the water with coconut water and add a tablespoon of coconut flakes to add the colada to your pina colada smoothie. I have to say this is  really good
  • You can also add berries to your smoothie. That is so nice
  • Sometimes I’ll add peanut butter powder and cinnamon to make a peanut butter oatmeal cookie flavored smoothie
  • You can also add cocoa powder or chocolate protein powder to make a chocolate smoothie
  • You can get really creative here and add berries to your chocolate smoothie. I call that my chocolate covered berry smoothie. It’s very good!

Does this give you some ideas on how you can make your own smoothies? Feel free to take that basic smoothie recipe and make it your own!

Green Tea Banana Smoothie

What’s the Difference Between Smoothies and Juices?

So you might be thinking right now. Why do green smoothies matter at all? Why not have juices instead? The difference between juicing and smoothies is one word: fiber. In juices, the fiber is extracted. That means those nutritious phytonutrients are more easily digested without the fiber getting in the way.

You can do both — smoothies and juices — in the same day. Just figure out what works best for you.

Do you need to rush out and buy an expensive juicer? Nope. If you don’t have a juicer and you want to try your hand at making juices, simply put your veggies in a blender, and then use a cheesecloth to strain the liquid, aka juice.

For me personally? I like smoothies better. I have had trouble with digestion in my life and so I need that fiber. Also, you just can’t ignore the health benefits of a smoothie. In fact, let’s talk about that for a moment.

Vegan Pina Colada Smoothie with pineapples, bananas, and coconut. So Good!

The Health Benefits of Smoothies: Why Green Smoothies Matter

If you’re kind of on the fence about smoothies, you are not alone. The idea of putting greens into a blender, blending it up, and drinking it? It’s not overly enticing.

But here’s the thing, once you add some delicious fruits to your smoothie, you can hardly notice the taste of the greens. And besides, there are some pretty impressive health benefits.

I’m going to leave a link in the show notes page to Dr. Rhonnda Patrick’s video on the health benefits of smoothies, because she goes into the nutritional science. I mean she has a Ph.D. in biomedical science. She can get into the details.

In fact, her video is so convincing that even Shawn is participating in our daily smoothies now. He was reluctant at the beginning but understanding the science behind the health benefits of dark green leafy vegetables and fruits in your diet every day, has been a game changer.

So, here we go. Here are some of the main nutrients in a smoothie that I think make them so worth while:

Magnesium. This is at the center of the part of the vegetable that makes it green. So, any time you’re eating something green, you can be pretty sure you’re getting magnesium. Why should you care? There are over 300 enzymes in the body that require magnesium and basically your body needs it to create energy. Without the right levels of magnesium, your body is forced to pick between creating the energy it needs to survive or keeping your DNA from accumulating damage. Damaged DNA can lead to cancer. So that’s one of the reasons it’s very important to get the recommended daily dose of magnesium.

We should be getting around 400 milligrams of magnesium a day but currently only about 45% of the US meets that.

ONLY 45%!

How much magnesium will you get in a smoothie like my basic smoothie above? Roughly around 3 – 350 mg.  That means you’re almost there.

I’ve also found magnesium to be helpful in dealing with constipation. My family doctor suggested I take a magnesium supplement and it was definitely helpful. However, why take a pill when you can eat (or drink) the greens?

Cruciferous. I include kale in my smoothies because it is a cruciferous vegetable. And why is that important? Well, Dr. Patrick goes into the details of this, but the end result is that it gives your bodies the nutrients it needs to fend off cancer. Cooked kale can be tasty, but you need some of the raw stuff in your diet and one of the best ways to do that is through smoothies.

Folate. I also include spinach in my smoothies and that is a good thing because it has folate in it. Let’s just say that folate helps your cells fend off cancer. Again, I will refer you to Dr. Patrick’s video for the scientific explanation of how a certain part of RNA is mis-incorporated into DNA, causing DNA damage when the body doesn’t have enough folate.

Vitamin K. This comes along from Chard, a new addition to my smoothies. I had not previously eaten much chard, but after learning how many of us are getting inadequate amounts of K1 in our diet, something that chard has a lot of, I’m now having some every day. Vitamin K1 is helpful for many reasons, including bone health and keeping your arteries clean. Just imagine K1 extracting calcium from your blood thereby reducing it in your arteries. Calcification in your arteries is otherwise know as heart disease. What does the K1 do with the calcium it takes from your blood? It transfers it to your bones where it’s needed.

Potassium. I almost always include a banana in my smoothies too and bananas are great sources of potassium, folate, magnesium, fiber and other phytontruients.

Green Tea Banana Smoothies

Will Green Smoothies Make Me Lose Weight?

Smoothies are not the magic bullet to skinny jeans. Sigh. I wish. But there is a sort of side door to why green smoothies matter to your weight. Because I find when I’m getting more of the right nutrients in my diet through smoothies, then I’m also feeling better overall. And when I feel better overall, I’m more apt to go work out. I also don’t find myself craving junk food as much.

If you think about it, this all makes sense. When you’ve got yourself on the right mindset, that’s when you’ll know why green smoothies matter so much. When you’re getting those greens in, you realize that you just feel good about yourself. And feeling good about yourself? That can lead to skinny jeans.

Green Tea Banana Smoothies include a healthy dose of spinach

How to Make Green Smoothies Easier

Look, I think I’ve made a good case for why green smoothies matter. But the truth is, it can be hard to keep up your smoothie habit. If you find yourself chopping away your mornings, you may start asking yourself why green smoothies matter at all. You may even give up on this super healthy habit. So here are some of my tips for making things easy on yourself:

  1. I buy a big bag of super greens at Costco. The whole bag costs around $4 and usually lasts us through the week. It has baby kale, spinach, and chard in it, so it is perfect. That said, if you prefer to buy your produce individually at the grocery store, just wash them when you get them home and store them so that they’re ready for you to grab each morning.
  2. I usually add about 3 cups or 3 big handfuls of greens for each of my smoothies. It usually fills up my blender. Sometimes I’ll even add more.
  3. Buy frozen berries. Again we get a big bag at costco and it costs around $9 and lasts for quite awhile.
  4. Freeze your bananas. Get a bunch of bananas. I mean a bunch. Or how about several bunches. Then when they’re at the right stage of ripeness, peel them and place slices on tray lined with waxed paper. I prefer yellow bananas with maybe a few brown spots. When they’re too ripe the flavor is overbearing in a smoothie. Anyway, once the ripeness is to your liking, slice them, place them on a tray, and place them in the freezer. About 30 minutes later just transfer them to a freezer bag.
  5. Freeze your pineapples. I do the same thing with pineapples. Rather than buying them in the can, I just buy a fresh pineapple. They’re so beautiful I will put it in the center of my table until they look not so pretty anymore. Then core it, remove the outer layers, and slice up the rest of it. Place the chunks on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and place in the freezer. Transfer to a freezer bag after they’re frozen.
  6. Get organized. Keep your seeds — like hemp and pumpkin seeds, and nuts — like cashews or almonds — in glass jars.
  7. Then when you’re ready to make your smoothies, it’s a matter of pulling out your greens, adding fruits and nuts, and blending them all together.

I highly recommend doing a few things right after making your smoothies. First, be sure to put the greens back in the fridge asap. Because when they sit out at room temperature too long, it accelerates their ripening. I’ve been there one too many times and ended up with greens gone bad. It’s not pretty and they definitely don’t taste great once that happens.

Also, clean the blender right away.

Here’s how I do that. I make my smoothies on the thick side, then pour them into two glasses. One for me and one for Shawn. But there’s usually a lot of green smoothie around the edges of the blender and at the bottom. That’s some good stuff.

So I add a little bit more water and swish it around the blender and then blend it for a second or two. Then add that liquid to the two glasses. I try to get as much of the green stuff out of the blender as possible.

After that I try to wash the blender right away. Just add a little bit of soapy water. And I use my dish brush to wipe around inside the blender. And then I actually blend the soapy water for a few seconds to help break away anything that might be down around the blades. Then I rinse it out and let set it on a towel to air dry.

This episode on Why Green Smoothies Matter includes references to some resources you might find interesting. Here they are:


In Conclusion

We covered a lot today discussing why green smoothies matter. I hope I’ve left you feeling inspired and ready to try adding smoothies to your diet every day…or at least most days. Wherever you are on your smoothie journey, I hope today’s episode  — Why Green Smoothies Matter — was helpful.

Health + Happiness,


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