Building a Better Green Drink

I don't "do" green juices.  Juicing removes most of the fiber from the fruits and vegetables being juiced, and quite frankly, it's an expensive process.  If I want to spend upwards of eight bucks on food, I'd better be chewing something.  Hence the word "drink" in this post.  Call it a shake, a smoothie, or Bob for all I care.  Just don't call it juice.  Now, let's jam some leafy greens into a blender, make them taste good, and get as much nutrition out of them as humanly possible.

1.  Choose your tool wisely.

I have a long-standing and well-earned reputation as a blender killer.  Guilty as charged.  Working with frozen fruits and the like requires a high-powered device that won't burn, smoke, or just lay down and die on you in a puddle of green muck.  The Ninja Professional 1500 Watt series has served me well for nearly two years.  I especially love the single-serve attachment.  It's great for making small batches of flour, pancake batter, and margaritas when it's not busy making green drinks.  

2.  Fatten it up.

Kale and spinach are both rich in Vitamins A and K.  Pairing sources of fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E, and K) with actual fat aids their absorption, giving you the most nutritional bang for your buck.  Some of my favorite add-ins are frozen avocado (I keep a stash of 2-inch chunks in my freezer for easy portioning), natural peanut butter, and slivered almonds.  Adding a fat source also lends satiety and a thicker texture - both winning qualities.

3.  Make friends with your freezer.

Sucking down a room-tempterature green drink sucks the joy out of the whole experience.  There's a fine line between what constitutes a consumable beverage and a liquified salad.  Go ahead and throw some frozen fruit into the mix.  Keep a mix of berries (blueberry and strawberry work well) and tropical fruits (banana, mango, and pineapple come to mind) in your freezer rotation.  Aside from providing nutrients, they'll lend the perfectly-chilled temperature and consistency - think of them as ice cubes, minus the whole business of watering down your drink.  Worried about the added sugar of tropical fruits?  Unless you have a medical reason for counting carbs, don't be: remember, you're also ingesting the fruit's natural fiber content.  

4.  Go suck a lemon.  

OK, so you have your greens, some healthy fat, and frozen fruit.  You could stop right there and get to whirring, but don't!  You'll need some liquid, lest you feel the need to teach your blender a lesson.  Use plain old tap water, and jazz it up with the juice of one lemon.  The acid will add brightness to the greens, and blunt the sweetness of any added tropical fruit.  Plus, if you're using baby spinach as your green of choice, you'll better absorb its iron content with the addition of vitamin C.  

5.  Dress accordingly.

Finally, get creative with your add-ins.  Got leftover cilantro from last night's turkey chili?  Throw it in there along with frozen pineapple.  Parsley about to die on you?  It will go great with that hint of lemon flavor.  Fresh basil pairs well with frozen strawberries.  Mint leaves make pretty much anything taste better. And if you have ginger on hand, add a couple of slices for the potential tummy-soothing and antioxidant benefits.  I always do!

And finally, ENJOY your creation!