As the idea of this blog all started over a smoothie, it seems appropriate to start off with the topic.. So, you want to know how to make delicious green smoothies that aren’t frothy, separated, or down right unpleasant? Here’s the low down, do try to read all the information first as it really will help you make sense of why you’re using the ratios suggested and will make it easier in the long run for you to think up your recipes.
1. Know the difference between soluble fiber and insoluble fiber
In your shake:
Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water and so do not mix well. Soluble fibers dissolve in water. Most fruits contain soluble fibers and so have the additional benefit of offering a more palatable sweet taste.
In your body:
You need both insoluble and soluble fiber in your diet. Insoluble fiber sweeps through your intestinal tract, speeding up digestion. This type of fiber makes your stools softer and easier for you to pass. Soluble fiber acts by soaking up water in your intestines, creating a slow-moving gel. This process slows down digestion, which allows essential vitamins and minerals to absorb in your gut. Soluble fibers also help maintain good cholesterol.
2. Understand your ratios
In your shake:
If you use a higher percentage of insoluble fiber in your mix, your smoothie will tend to froth and separate leaving an inconsistent texture that will need constant stirring. A higher percentage of soluble fibre will create a creamy homogenous mix without particle separation. The ideal ratio is 40% insoluble to 60% soluble, however you can start with a lower insoluble percentage and work up if you find greens particularly unpalatable. To this ratio you will also want to add liquid, you can use water, or other flavourful liquids like coconut water, juice, or non dairy milks.
Translating this into measurements will give you a guideline of 1 cup liquid, 1 cup insoluble, and 1 1/2 cup soluble.
In your body:
Over time people who drink green smoothies tend to find they start enjoying the taste of greens more, one reason for this is that greens are high in cellulose which makes them difficult for the digestive system to break down. In perfectly healthy human bodies with the absence of nutritional deficiencies, the greens are liquefied by two processes; chewing and stomach acid. Unfortunately, many people today don’t have normal levels of hydrochloric acid due to mineral deficiencies. People who have low hydrochloric acid eventually stop enjoying greens and even develop a distaste for them. By blending, the body is able to absorb the nutrients, minerals and anti-oxidants much more efficiently which will help restore good stomach functionality and in turn vegetable enjoyment.
3.A note on starch
A sugar and starch combination is not good for a couple reasons, sugars inhibit the production of enzymes in the saliva that begin the break down of starches. Therefore when eaten together the digestion process of starch is delayed until it reaches the stomach. When combined with starch the digestion of the sugar is also delayed which can allow it to ferment in the stomach, the end result can cause distension, gas, and a lock of B-vitamins. In summary starchy vegetables combined with fruit may cause problems while fiber in green leaves helps slow the absorption of sugar in fruit making this combination beneficial.
4. Boosters and protein
Your green smoothie is nutritious enough on it’s own but if you really want to add some extra punch you can add a superfood booster to give you that extra kick of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, energy, or even just flavour!
There seems to be conflicting information about proteins in your shake. Many are happy to add extra proteins to their shake however proteins can take three or more hours to digest, sugars are forced to wait until the proteins are digested before they become fully digested which leads to the same fermentation problem as when combined with starches. There are ways of making protein boosters more quickly digestible such as grinding grains that fall into the naturally more easily digestible group, but do pay extra attention if you are experiencing any bloating or discomfort after drinking your smoothie.
While fresh is always best, green smoothies will keep in cool temperatures for up to three days, which can be handy at work and while traveling.
6. Putting it all together
To get a really “smooth” green smoothie experience, blend up your leafy greens and liquid-base first. Then add your remaining fruits and blend again (but don’t over-blend your green smoothie, you don’t want to leave your blender whirling the ingredients for more than a minute at most to prevent oxidation and nutrient loss)
Freeze your fruit, this will chill your smoothie which most people seem to prefer. It also means you can do preparation chopping, and freeze ready prepared portions which will reduce your smoothie making time to almost nothing.
Lastly here are just a few of the different ingredients you can try in your green smoothies, feel free to experiment, just remember your ratios and you should get good results. For clarification most plant-based foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, these groupings are for ‘mostly’ one or the other. You will find conflicting information on the internet over whether some things fall under soluble or insoluble, pears and oranges for example have a high ratio of both, apples have mainly soluble flesh but insoluble skin.Don’t stress about all this stuff too much, these are guidelines to help you get started but you will quickly start to understand which ingredients work.
Insoluble fibers – 1 cup (40%):
-leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, rocket, watercress, parsley, collards, carrot/beetroot/radish Tops, dandelion greens, etc)
Soluble fibers – 1 1/2 cups (60%):
-berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
Liquids – 1 cup:
When adding your liquid it may be useful to remember that some fruit also have a high water content. Melon, cucumber, oranges, etc. and you may wish to reduce the overall liquid added in order to keep your consistency smooth.
A few examples of boosters are:
– Some ‘Good fats’ like coconut oil or almond butter
– Try raw cacao for extra deliciousness and antioxidants
– Use maca root for energy and stamina
– Sea vegetables like dulse or kelp add iodine
– Get your omega-3s using chia or flax seeds