Saturday, May 1, 2010

To rival Popeye

Newsflash: MY KIDS DRINK SPINACH.


We are now, officially, "That Weird Family." And I'm perfectly fine with it. Absolutely, completely, and perfectly fine.

I didn’t know they could or would do this until Thursday noon when I fixed them some spinach smoothies, a.k.a. green smoothies.

I had heard of green smoothies but I thought they had something to do with green tea. Earlier this week I suddenly got curious, did some digging, and learned that, lo and behold, green smoothies get their name and color from greens like spinach and kale. Fifty percent fruit and fifty percent vegetables is what one site said.

No freakin' way, I thought. Then I recalled that I had two nanners in the freezer and thought, Well, why not? It was ten minutes till twelve and the kids were playing outside. They wouldn’t be around to witness what weird stuff went in my blender.

So I put half a bag of frozen spinach into the blender, added the bananas, and then doused the contents with some of my home-canned apple juice. Flipping the blender on and watching the contents turn bright green, I started feeling a little odd, like I was suddenly a tree-loving, tie-dye wearing, dreadlock-sporting, granola-munching, weed-smoking hippie. I was gettin’ some pretty funky vibes, there was no doubt about it.


I whirled the contents till there wasn’t one tell-tale sign of leafy-ness—the mixture was smooth, creamy, and very, very green. I poured the contents into glasses and summoned the children. They came running, but once inside they slowed down considerably, circling the table, suspiciously eyeing their glasses of green.

“Have I got a treat for you!” I crowed. “Go wash your hands and sit up. Hurry, hurry! I can’t wait for you to taste it!” They hustled, sat, and slurped, and the feedback was immediate: Yum! WOW. This is delicious! Oh boy, this is good! What is it?

“I’m not telling till you’re all done,” I said, grinning mysteriously. “Now, who wants toasted shredded wheat bread with peanut butter and honey?”

They drained their glasses in no time flat. “It’s spinach,” I said.

They froze. Horror and disbelief flashed across their trusting faces. I talked fast, happily, excitedly.

“And there’s bananas and apple juice, too. It’s sweet, isn’t it? It’s so good for you and it’s delicious! You can’t even taste the spinach, and it turns it the prettiest green. Isn’t that amazing?”

They relaxed, sucked up the last few drops, and asked for more. Score!

I made a smoothie for Mr. Handsome that evening (after a trip to town where I bought more bananas). The kids fought over the bit that remained in the blender. Miss Beccaboo, who wasn’t around when I doled it out, was severely disappointed, so I promised her another one for the next day’s lunch, this time with pineapple, banana, and strawberries, and lots of yummy spinach, too.


I didn’t get around to following up on my word (life threw me a humdinger of a curve ball—more on that later), but that evening for dessert (!!!!!), I whipped up another smoothie, this time with extra spinach, bananas, apple juice, and canned pears.


I’m shocked. I’m tickled. I’m thrilled. Mr. Handsome loves them. There is no dairy to bloat him, he of the lactose-intolerant. I love them; they make me feel light and airy and energetic. The kids love, love, love them. Need I say more?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go plant five more packets of spinach.


Green Smoothie
The formula is pretty simple: fifty percent vegetable, fifty percent fruit, and water (or fruit juice) to cover. However, at this point I’m using more fruit then vegetable. (I halfway weighed last night’s portions: 4 ounces frozen spinach, 2 bananas [about six ounces], two or three canned pears plus some juice, and about one cup of home-canned apple juice.)

I’ve read that you can increase the veggies to sixty percent, and the variations are wide-ranging and never-ending. For example, in place of spinach try dandelion greens, purslane, nettle leaves, arugula, parsley, and basil. And other suggested fruits (though a banana or avocado helps to emulsify, or make creamy, the smoothie) include apples, lemons or limes (rind removed), strawberries, pears, peaches, raspberries, and blueberries. The experts also suggest including a teaspoon of super food, such as bee pollen, hemp seeds, goji berries, pure chocolate, and wheatgrass juice, of which I have none. For now, the fact that my kids are drinking spinach is more than enough.

Basic Green Smoothie Formula
4 ounces spinach (one whole bag), fresh or frozen (don’t bother to drain)
2 bananas, fresh or frozen
1-2 cups apple juice
ice, if desired

Blend thoroughly and serve.

I will update this post as I try new variations. If you’re already a green smoothie afficionado, please share your secrets. I’m on a roll!

Updated on May 3, 2010: Strawberries and spinach make a puke-y brown smoothie. Still delicious though, if you can get past the sludge-ish-ness.

About one year ago: Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.

16 comments:

  1. That makes my heart sing! I love when kiddos are drinking green smoothies! YAY!

    Cheers,
    Kristen

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  2. The one thing we fail at is getting our grandson to drink smoothies. He loves fruits, berries, and greens but not if the are all blended up. I am going to show him these pictures of your kids enjoying their green smoothies and see if I can change his mind. I'll tell him that he will get super powers from drinking a green smoothie, I'm not sure he knows who Popeye is but he does like the Incredible Hulk.:)

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  3. Holy Crackers... They LIKED it? I'll have to try this on the teenagers next week! Maybe I'll tell then the green is food coloring to get them to try it! Awesome idea!

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  4. have you tried any with peaches? my peaches I did last year aren't very exciting and I need good ways to use them up, preferably hiding them, too. This will work if you think peach and spinach would go together.

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  5. I'd like to know about the peaches, too. We don't buy bananas, but I would love to try this somehow. It's such a beautiful color. Nice work!

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  6. Kristen, It makes my heart sing, too!

    Mr. H, My kids don't have a clue about Popeye, and they probably don't know who Hulk is either, but they are familiar with Shrek. There. Now you know a bit of their movie history.

    Mavis, I'm sorry, but you have it wrong. Perhaps I didn't make myself clear? They don't LIKE the smoothies. They LOVE them.

    Zoe and ThyHand, Peaches, absolutely! If your peaches are bland, you might want to pair them with another fruit, like strawberries, to give it more kick. Or how about peaches with blueberries and fresh mint? Yes?

    I'm telling you, I think we've gone through three bags of spinach in as many days! It's crazy!

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  7. Gahhh.....I'm salivating. (ew?)

    peach and avocado sounds luscious! I'm totally making it.

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  8. I just discovered "green monsters" or spinach smoothies myself and I am finding myself more energized! I use 1 1/2C. soy or nut milk, 1C. spinach, 1 banana, 1 Tbs. flax seed, a scoop or two of yogurt and a squirt of flax oil. They are delicious!! I whiz it all up with about 9 ice cubes and call it breakfast!

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  9. My 2.5 year old loves green smoothies. I put all kinds of random things in them. All manner of frozen fruits, blueberries, strawberries, peaches. I have used spinach, steamed broccoli, even frozen carrots (makes it more like a slushy). I always use bananas and a little milk instead of juice to make them creamy. My best tip is to freeze the smoothie into popsicles (no recipe modifications needed).

    kristen

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  10. I showed the pictures to my son and he thought it looked wonderful. I will (timidly) give it a try and let you know the result.

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  11. I am loving mine right now! 1/2 banana, a few strawberries, spinach, apple juice and I ground up 1 T flax seed. Ugly like green bean baby food but OMG DELICIOUS!

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  12. I did not believe this would be tasty but I tried it and WOWZERS it was so good!! I can't wait to try more concotions with my blender!! Thanks for posting all the info. YUM YUM YUM!! ~Robyn

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  13. We tried it and the kids were thrilled and sucked them right down. I bought more bananas and the kids were grumpy because they were green and we couldn't make more Shrek Shakes NOW!

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  14. LOVE Green Smoothies! I drink them every day sometimes 3 or 4 times a day.

    Come see our forum and, recipes and videos at Feel free to post this with links back here at http://greensmoothies.ning.com/

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  15. Okay, I'll admit I was a spinach smoothie weanie, but--after reading your post--was convinced I needed to try it. Yesterday was The Day and all I can say is, MAN! Those are GOOD! The kids loved them (kept asking for more until the blender was empty); my husband even had seconds--miracle of miracles! Thank you!

    BTW, tried your tortillas--one word: excellent! I'll be making them again, for sure.

    JDM

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  16. I eat green smoothies most days. Love them. My servings are a quart each and include 1/4 lb of green things with the rest fruit and liquid. I do usually make spinach about half the greens, because they are so mild and other greens can be rather strongly flavored.
    Here's my "typical" smoothie:
    1 cup water
    1 cup juice/almond milk/more water
    1 whole orange, peeled
    1/2 banana
    1/4 lb spinach/kale/dandilions/beet greens/swiss chard/lettuce
    1-2 cups fresh or frozen fruit
    1 tbsp fresh bee pollen
    1-2 tbsp hemp seeds
    1-2 dates, if it needs to be sweeter

    Blend. Serve.

    Red things like strawberries do make it a less appetizing color; you can overcome this by adding a small peeled beet (I put mine in raw, but if you think your blender won't handle it you could try steamed beets) which will turn it bright red. If you add blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, etc it will make a lovely shade of dark purple. I try to always add hemp seeds or another source of fat and protien to help my body better absorb the nutrients in the smoothie, since many of them are better absorbed in the presence of fat, and help it stick with me a bit longer.
    If you freeze raw greens they are not usually good for much, but they are perfect for smoothies. Especially if you avoid purchasing them in the off-season this would be a great way to get some raw greens in your diet without needing a green house.
    Check out www.greensmoothiegirl.com for more ideas. She also has youtube videos to watch. I found her when I was researching blenders and ended up purchasing the one she recommends. It rocks - I recommend it whole-heartedly when the time comes for you to replace yours!

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