A rainbow of veggie smoothies for satisfying sips
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Eat your vegetables! We all recognize the familiar dinnertime command. But we’re here to say: eating your veggies is not strictly necessary. Put your blender to work—and try sipping instead of chewing.
Despite the nutritional firepower of vegetables, not enough Canadians are eating the daily recommended number of servings. Need more motivation? A research review in the international Journal of Epidemiology found that eating about 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day may reduce the risk of premature death by 31 percent. Even two servings per day resulted in a 15 percent lower risk of early death from maladies such as heart disease.
To hit your daily quota, consider reaching for the blender—and not just the salad bowl. With all due respect to juicing, when it comes to drinking vegetables, you can’t beat giving them a spin in the blender. The blender will not only preserve their dietary fibre but also give you a deliciously creamy drink that tastes indulgent—nothing like you’re gulping down a salad. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the variety of smoothie combinations you can whip up. Simply blitz in superstars such as carrots and leafy greens and you can effortlessly cross a serving of vegetables off your dietary to-do list in a jiffy and, in the process, flood your body with a range of must-have nutrients. Paired with other smart ingredients, vegetables won’t change the flavour drastically—just ramp up the nutrition in each sip. That makes these smoothies a good option for veg-averse picky eaters. When you want to go hard on health, fire up your blender and give one of these ultra-nutritious, colourful smoothies a whirl.
To create a spoonable mixture, you’ll want to use less liquid than you would for a typical smoothie that’s served in a glass. The rule of thumb is no more than 1/3 cup (80 mL) milk or other liquid.
Vegetable peels such as carrot and cucumber contain valuable nutrients and fibre, so be sure to blend them into the mix. High-powered blenders can also perfectly pulverize leafy green stalks such as kale or Swiss chard.
Before you hit blend on your smoothies, follow these tips for success.
For more efficient blending, place liquids such as milk and yogurt in blender container first, followed by softer items such as leafy greens and nut butter, and then any harder items, including certain fresh vegetables such as carrots and frozen fruit. This helps lubricate the blender blades so they’ll easily cut through the harder stuff and reduce the chances of overheating your machine. The liquid at the bottom will also absorb the puréed solids. This gives you perfectly blended veggies instead of just having tiny pieces of frozen banana floating around your drink.
If your blender has a speed adjustment knob, begin at the lowest blender speed, then work your way up to high.
A blender with more horsepower will do a better job at converting hard vegetables and frozen fruit into ultra-silky smoothies with less risk of motor burnout.
To give your veggie-laden smoothie staying power, be sure to blend in some protein and healthy fats to slow down digestion. Protein can hail from everything from yogurt or soft tofu to your favourite protein powder. Use items such as nut or seed butters, flaxseeds, and hemp hearts for a fatty influence. This fat will also aid in the absorption of fat-soluble antioxidants found in the colourful vegetables.
For an ultra-quick meal or snack, you can assemble your ingredients, save for any frozen items, in a blender container and refrigerate the night before. When thirsty, simply add in your frozen ingredients and press start for near-instant nourishment.
A touch of spice such as cinnamon or nutmeg can instantly transform a smoothie from meh to memorable. Herbs such as mint, citrus zest, and extracts including vanilla or almond are also great ways to add calorie-free flavour to your shakes.
Need a smoothie to go? After blending, pour your drink into an insulated container that is designed to keep drinks nippy for several hours.
For natural sweetness and creamy (not icy) body, look no further than subzero bananas. Peel and chop bananas into 1 in (2.5 cm) chunks, spread out on baking sheet, and freeze until solid. Transfer to airtight container and stash in the freezer until a smoothie craving strikes.
When local options are out of season, consider budget-friendly frozen fruit your secret weapon to more nutritious smoothies. Because they’re frozen shortly after harvesting, they can be more nutrient dense than fresh fruit that is grown thousands of miles away from your home and transported.
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD, is a dietitian, nutrition writer, and recipe developer. He is also the author of Rocket Fuel (VeloPress, 2016) and Muffin Tin Chef (Ulysses Press, 2012).
This article was originally published in the April 2020 issue of alive Canada, under the title "Smooth Blends."