green smoothies

Make Green Smoothies Healthier + Low-Sugar Guaranteed | Recipe

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The Internet is full of green smoothie recipes, but most of them have very little greens compared to fruit. Also, lots of fruit in green smoothies = lots of sugar. I will tell you how to easily increase the proportion of greens to fruits without tasting bitter.

The term “green smoothie” usually leads me to expect vegetables as the main ingredient. However, most “green smoothies” rely primarily on fruits. You might as well call them “fruit smoothies – with a pinch of greens.”

For instance, if you look at the nutrition label of Naked Juice’s “Green Machine,” you will see that just one 8 oz. cup contains 28 grams of sugar. The first five ingredients include either juices or purees of high-sugar fruits.

That’s why it’s important to see how much “green” a green smoothie actually has, particularly if you’re avoiding high-sugar drinks. Better yet, make your own green smoothie to save money and to control the ingredients!

As an example, the green smoothie we make (recipe below) only has about 16 grams of sugar for the full 3-cup serving. Compare that to 84 grams of sugar if you had 3 cups of Green Machine. It contains a lot more greens, too – about 4 cups of fresh greens per smoothie. (See our article, Sneaky Hidden Sugars You May Find in 6 Popular Foods and More, for other common and surprising sources of sugar in our diets.)

I will share how we ensure our green smoothies have lots of greens, and how we lower the risk of consuming too many oxalates from leafy greens (which can lead to kidney stones).

NOTE: This article is more to share our method for incorporating more greens into our smoothie than for the actual recipe itself. The recipe simply serves as an example that you can tweak to your liking.

Why Green Smoothies Are Convenient 

green smoothies

I admittedly used to be so good at eating my veggies! I had them with almost every dinner and oftentimes with lunch.

However, after having kids, I noticeably fell off the veggie train where I had less time to cook overall. Instead of cooking a separate vegetable dish with dinner, I often tried to combine them into a main dish or simply omitted a vegetable dish altogether. 

Despite consuming less vegetables with my meals, at least my daily intake of green smoothies consoled me. We add a lot of greens in our green smoothies, which could count as a daily recommended serving of greens alone. I will tell you how we add so much later.

Whether you also lack the time to cook more vegetables or just don’t like eating them, drinking a green smoothie can help you get your needed daily dose of greens.

Green Smoothies Are Super Healthy

green smoothies

As long as you’re not drinking green smoothies full of sugar, green smoothies are super healthy for you!

The most obvious health benefit is the nutrient content. We buy four 1.5-lb bags of organic “power greens” from Costco every week for smoothies (for two people), unless we have greens growing in the garden. The power greens blend includes spinach, chard, and kale.

The USDA has touted dark leafy greens like kale and spinach for being high in vitamins A, C, E, and K. They are also rich in fiberironmagnesiumpotassium, and calcium.

Also, remember that vegetables and fruits are an excellent source of antioxidants, which reduce disease-causing free radicals in your body.

How to Reduce Oxalate Content in Green Smoothies

What are Oxalates? Risks?

Oxalates are chemicals that form compounds with minerals like calcium, which can result in kidney stones if too much accumulates. Oxalates are present in certain food, including dark leafy greens.

Thus, you might be worried about consuming too many oxalates. However, unless you’re particularly susceptible to kidney stones, you needn’t worry about avoiding oxalate-rich foods like greens. 

The nutritious benefits of eating leafy greens outweighs the oxalate risks for most people.

How We Minimize Oxalates in Green Smoothies

green smoothies

Because we drink green smoothies so often, we figured we should reduce the oxalate content just in case it mattered. Here’s how we reduce the oxalate content: we cook the greens (I will share our exact method below.). This is where the Instant Pot comes in handy. 

Boiling greens is the best method of reducing oxalate content, where research shows boiling can reduce the oxalate content by as much as 87%. Just be sure to consume the water as well to get all the nutrients left in the water.

An awesome bonus of boiling our greens for green smoothies is that we actually like the taste and texture it adds.

How We Boil Our Greens for Green Smoothies

Remember: we boil our greens and then use this “green juice” in smoothies, not to drink by itself! It is super bitter by itself, so I would not recommend drinking it alone.

Our method for boiling greens is super simple, particularly with the Instant Pot. Note that you don’t need an Instant Pot and can boil greens on the stove top, but we simply find the process way easier and quicker using the Instant Pot.

If you are not using an Instant Pot, the steps are almost identical, but I’ll give separate instructions below.

Instant Pot Method for “Green Juice”

  • Step 1: Put 1.5 lbs (about 16 cups) of fresh greens into the Instant Pot. (We use a 1.5-lb bag of organic power greens from Costco, but you can use other greens.) You may have to push the greens down a little to fit better. 
  • Step 2: Pour 1 cup of water into the pot, then close the lid and turn the pressure valve to seal. Cook the greens on the “Steam” function for 4 minutes. 
  • Step 3 (Optional): While the greens are cooking, put about a cup of ice in the blender (Note: this is optional, but we do it to help cool the greens faster).
  • Step 4: Once the Instant Pot beeps to finish, do a quick release and pour the greens with the water into the blender (with optional ice). (Note: since veggies lose their nutrients into the water when boiling, be sure to pour the water into the blender!)
  • Step 5: Blend and use/store.

Notes on Instant Pot Method:

  • Since we do two bags at a time, we will scoop the greens out from the first bag into the blender and then add the second bag of greens into the Instant Pot (using the same water left over from the first run!). We then repeat the process, but use a total of 2 cups of ice instead of 1. Total, using two 1.5 bags of greens, we make about 8 cups of green juice.
  • We store our 8 cups of greens in a half-gallon mason jar in the fridge. If you’re only doing half the amount, as outlined in the method above, you obviously don’t need as large a jar.
  • Shake the green juice before each use, since thicker veggie chunks tend to settle at the top.
  • The green juice can easily last in the fridge for 5 days.
  • Although we use the “steam” function, we are actually boiling the greens since we don’t use any steamer tray with the greens.

Stovetop Method for “Green Juice”

  • Step 1: Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a large stockpot large enough to hold all of the fresh greens (We use a 1.5lb bag from Costco, about 16 cups). If your pot is not large, you can continuously stir the greens until they wilt before adding more.
  • Step 2: Once the water is boiling, add the greens.
  • Step 3: Cover the pot with a lid and allow to boil for 4 mins, or until all the greens are cooked if you’re using less greens. You can stir the greens continuously to expedite the process, or if you want to add more greens.
  • Step 4 (Optional): While the greens are cooking, put about a cup of ice in the blender (Note: this is optional, but we do it to help cool the greens faster).
  • Step 5: Once all the greens are soft and cooked, turn off the stove and pour the pot contents (greens and water) into a blender.
  • Step 6: Blend and use/store.

Notes on Stovetop Method:

  • The green juice can easily last in the fridge for 5 days. 
  • Shake the green juice before each use, since thicker veggie chunks tend to settle at the top.

Our Go-To Green Smoothie Recipe

green smoothies

We tend to use 1 cup of the above “greens juice” in every smoothie. If you’re used to drinking smoothies with fresh greens, the taste difference may require a little adjustment. We’re used to it, since we’ve been drinking smoothies with cooked greens for years.

Our smoothie is designed to be heavier and more filling, by including fats and proteins. You can feel free to adjust ingredients or amounts as you see fit.

Green Smoothie Recipe

(Serving Size: About 3 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of “green juice” (see our method above)
  • 1 cup of frozen or fresh fruits (We like frozen mixed berries best: blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries)
  • ¾ cup of yogurt (See our post on making yogurt)
  • ½ cup of coconut milk (We like the flavor of Aroy-D the best)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • water (optional)

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to your blender. 
  2. Blend, stirring occasionally, if necessary.
  3. Add more water if you prefer a less thick smoothie.

Recipe Notes:

  • Using frozen fruits gives a more refreshing consistency of a slightly frozen drink, but fresh fruits works fine. 
  • We found blackberries add a wonderful sweetness that is lacking if using simply strawberries and/or blackberries. Costco sells a 3-lb bag of frozen organic mixed berries with this combination.
  • The lemon juice helps to counter the “bitter” quality of the greens.
  • If you prefer using fresh greens, by all means do so! Using the same proportion of greens would equate to about 4 cups of fresh greens per smoothie.
  • The type of yogurt and coconut milk you use will affect the flavor. As mentioned, we like the flavor of Aroy-D compared to other coconut milks out there. I actually don’t like any other coconut milk I’ve tried so would omit it if not for Aroy-D.
  • For ease and convenience, I tend to make two smoothies at a time, so would double the above recipe and have two days’ worth of smoothies at a time.
  • This smoothie is on the heavier, more filling side due to the yogurt and coconut milk. If you want a less-filling smoothie, you can omit these items. 
  • If you like your smoothie sweeter, add more fruits. 

Variations in Green Smoothie Recipe

You can add the following to the above basic green smoothie recipe:

  • 1 tbsp. of chia seeds 
  • 1 tbsp. of hemp seeds
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (Note: you will probably need to add more water until your desired consistency)
  • ½ an avocado
  • 1 beet

If you have any low-sugar green smoothie recipes that you absolutely love, or made any tweaks to my recipe, please comment below. I’m always interested in trying new recipes!

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4 thoughts on “Make Green Smoothies Healthier + Low-Sugar Guaranteed | Recipe”

  1. I can’t believe I didn’t think of boiling greens for smoothies. That is pure genius! I saw your pin on Pinterest and thought this would be a regular green smoothie but was curious surprised to see something different for a change. I tried it and loved it. It’s diffirent but definitely doable and uses so much greens! Will try to have a green smoothie daily now! Thank you for the post.

    1. Thanks for your positive words, Carol! I’m glad you enjoyed our way of making green smoothies. It really is a great way to get in more daily veggies without lots of effort.

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