Mellow Green Smoothie
November 3, 2010

Spend a little time in the raw world, and you’ll quickly hear speak of a morning elixir with magical superpowers. It could be juice, but in this case I’m not thinking of juice. I’m talking about that brace and bulwark of the raw fooder’s world, the green smoothie.

What’s a green smoothie? It’s precisely what it sounds like: a smoothie to which some sort of green leafy vegetable — kale, spinach, chard, romaine, broccoli, zucchini, or even (by some definitions) avocado has been added. The obvious logic behind green smoothies is that they’re an easy way for people who aren’t too fond of the green leafies to eat them. For those of us who are already leafy fanatics, green smoothies present yet another chance to get our green on–all before noon!

In the raw world, and even outside of it (for instance, at Ange’s blog), green smoothies are have devoted followings. Books have been written on their healing powers, and all sorts of green smoothie “challenges” transpire each year on raw websites.

I read about these with admiration, but also with a sense of feeling left out. See, I love the idea of green smoothies–when do I not love the idea of greens in any shape or form–but the truth is that I just don’t like the things themselves. I wish I did. I’m not even sure why I react to them with such distaste: I love green juice, after all (which is also a greens+fruit combo), and I love my greens. I mean, put me in front of a wheelbarrow of raw kale, and I’ll begin nibbling like a rabbit. So what is it with me and green smoothies? Perhaps it’s my squeamishness about fruit, writ large in the presence of greens. Perhaps it’s just a childish reaction to the color. Whatever the case, I typically watch the green smoothie enthusiasm from the sidelines, a proud but distant spectator.

Except, that is, for a few green smoothie combinations that seem not to turn my tastebuds sour. The first green smoothie that I ever managed to chug down with enthusiasm was a recipe from Carol Alt’s The Raw 50; it was a simple combination of bananas and romaine lettuce (that’s it!), and I was shocked at how mellow it tasted. It had never occurred to me to put romaine in a smoothie before, but I found that I enjoyed it so much more than spinach or kale concoctions. Now, three years later, I still enjoy playing around with this basic recipe template, and I find that it’s the easiest way to enjoy greens and fruit in a morning drink.

Last weekend, I decided to put a new spin on this super mellow, super easy green smoothie. I added, for fat and protein, a tablespoon of tahini (perhaps my favorite seed butter). Blended with some almond milk and vanilla sun warrior protein, this was an exceptionally nutrient dense and delicious morning drink. If you don’t like tahini, you can certainly substitute a mellow nut butter–cashew or macadamia would be ideal. I happen to think tahini is a gift from the gods, but I’m always shocked at the number of CR readers who don’t like it.

Gena’s Super Mellow Green Smoothie (serves 1)

1 large frozen banana
1 heaping tbsp tahini (raw is best, but roasted is fine)
6 large leaves of romaine lettuce
3/4 cup almond milk
1 scoop vanilla sun warrior protein powder (you can sub hemp protein, or simply leave it out altogether)
Stevia to taste

Blend all ingredients on high till smooth.


This smoothie tastes rich and creamy, and you won’t ever suspect that a serving of greens lurks beneath the golden hue. It’s the perfect green smoothie to serve to a family member who’s as skittish an eater as I am.

Or, you can serve it simply because it tastes great.

One day, I’ll get used to the taste of green monsters. (Maybe.) Till then, I rest secure in the knowledge that I eat enough green stuff between lunch and dinner to feed a (really healthy) army. And I can enjoy green smoothies that land on the more mellow side of the flavor spectrum.

Before I go, I wanted to direct you to an interview with Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society, coiner of the word “vegan,” and vegetarian of 78 years (vegan for a good many of those). In spite of some moments of disagreement–such as Watson’s suggestion that being vegan sometimes means “excommunication” from situations that involve social dining, a sentiment that runs totally against the kind of veganism I practice–I loved reading this thoughtful article. Favorite moment? When asked what his message would be to vegans worldwide, Watson responded:

“Take the broad view of what veganism stands for – something beyond finding a new alternative to scrambled eggs on toast or a new recipe for Christmas cake. Realise that you’re on to something really big, something that hadn’t been tried until sixty years ago, and something which is meeting every reasonable criticism that anyone can level against it. And this doesn’t involve weeks or months of studying diet charts or reading books by socalled experts – it means grasping a few simple facts and applying them.”

Take a moment to read the interview, if you can. I’d love to hear what struck a chord with you!

xo

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    40 Comments
  1. Just a note to say I have made this with sesame seeds instead of tahini several times now (my most cost effective source for tahini has been out for over a month grrr) and it works perfectly. GrantedI used a Vita, but in case any of your readers do not have easy access to tahini,I wanted to say that raw hulled sesame seeds works just as well.I subbed 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds for the 1 heaping tablespoon of tahini.

  2. I have to admit, I am a devotee of green smoothies. I like ’em all–with kale, collards, romaine, spinach–whatever. At first I always added blueberries to mask the color, but now, I don’t mind the green at all. Your smoothie sounds great. And such an orange hue–wondering what imparts that color! I also love tahini, though maybe not straight up. 😉

  3. I am with you on the tahini love! So delicious. I always use a combo of banana+peanut butter in my green smoothies. That seems to make it more drinkable to me. I think I will try tahini now. Thanks for the great idea.

  4. such a nice song! i could´nt sleep so i checked out ur blog , listened too it and went back to bed..so ver BIG thanks. I haven´t beena ble to finde kale here in Baarcelona so, my first green juice/smoothie was with romain and it is much more mild in tast..also more gentle to the teeth i belive..you can actually just use it in any mixture, its so watery and delicious with carrot and beet and ginger too, or green apple and avocado, or blueberries…thanks for the vegan background input 😉

  5. i’m generally not a big smoothie person, and now that its getting chilly i just want tea alllll day hahaha. but when i got my wisdom teeth out last july, green smoothies were my BFF. i was surprised at how full they made me!

    by the way, perhaps in the future you can have a music related post, it seems like you have great taste (and in food as well)!!

  6. wow! I wish I liked vegetables as much as you. I like them but they are never my first choice. I love a mango, spinach, banana smoothie. Maybe I need to make more yummy salad dressings!

  7. This post has made me realize that I haven’t been using tahini to its full potential. I love the taste but tend to use it only in salad dressings and hummus. It’s just another nut/seed butter, so why not throw it in a smoothie?
    Yum.
    Random Q: do you know if raw tahini is higher in calcium than roasted versions? I noticed that Artisana’s has some calcium in it, but the roasted Arrowhead Mills brand does not.

  8. Oh man, you and my dad could have a tahini fest together! Im like the majority of your readers, not too big a fan of the stuff. But I remember once my mom ran out of peanut butter and my dad started making tahini and jam sandwiches… SOUNDS AWFUL!! He’s been eating them ever since.

  9. I love romaine (called cos here) in juices, smoothies, salads, wraps, plain, you name it!

    This looks beautiful Gena, thanks.

  10. “romaine in a smoothie before, but I found that I enjoyed it so much more than spinach or kale concoctions. “–

    ME TOO!
    Kale and spinach are much more pungent for me than romaine. Also when I was part of my CSA, I would get massive amounts of romaine and greens certain times of the year. This was before I had a juicer and I would always put them into smoothies and yes, the flavor is far more mellow when not using kale. The green that never goes into smoothies or juices though is arugula. Holy overpowering 🙂

    I love how your smoothie turned orange, but nothing really is orange in your ingredient list. Funny how plants work like that!

    I am off to check out the interview next.

    I wish you were going to Food Buzz! Are you sure you can’t hop on a plane tomorrow or Friday morning?

    🙂

  11. Great post. Smoothies are a huge part of my daily diet lately, had two today! Kale or spinach loaded smoothies are my go to when I feel a cold coming on – like now. 🙁 I alternate between Sun Warrior and hemp protein powders, but I like the taste of Sun Warrior better.

  12. Love tahini!!!! And your smoothie – wow. Love the color! You know we love our green smoothies! I start my day with one and sometimes I make another for lunch or dinner, I just love them that much 😉 They help make me feel so good inside and out 😉 ~ Lori

  13. Great recipe! I’m definitely trying it tomorrow morning. I’ve been thinking recently about how I’ve grown so attached to the idea of green smoothies that I literally can’t make a smoothie WITHOUT putting greens in it! I think there are both pros and cons to that problem…

  14. I adore smoothies, just not green ones. I don’t think it’s the fruit-veggie combo, because I love my green juice. And I like raw soups, including a number of very green ones. Laura Bruno had a great post a while back on “Tips for Tastier Green Smoothies.” I just haven’t bothered to play around too much because I get ample greens without adding them to my smoothies.

  15. Haha, I on the other hand have always loved green monsters (smoothies). Any way I can get in my greens- cooked, raw, blended, etc., I do it. More power to green smoothies, as sometimes I can’t eat as much greens as I can drink. Love all ways of getting in greens, though.

    I LOVE tahini- so agree that it’s from the amazing Gods 🙂 I made a smoothie recently with raw cocoa powder, tahini, strawberries and avocado- it was SUPER yummy 🙂

  16. Oh funny, I am a green juice lover myself, but also couldn’t stomach the idea of green smoothies till just recently. First I gently tried a green juice blended with 1/4 avocado and 1/2 frozen banana. Awesome! But then it’s a two step process. Make or buy juice, then make a smoothie. So, I bravely soldiered on and yesterday found a perfectly green recipe for me.

    2 cups water
    2 big handfuls spinach (though you could use romaine)
    1 handful frozen pineapple
    1/2 frozen banana
    vanilla
    stevia
    1/4-1/2 avocado, depending on the size

    This was amazing, though not really fall like.

  17. I’ve hidden romaine in smoothies before for a little kid who hated greens. He didn’t seem to notice. I for one dislike lettuce in my smoothies so I might not care for this one. Weird! The greens were an acquired taste so I think you just have to get used to it. I personally would love to swap out a salad for a green smoothie–and do! A much more fun way for me to get my greens.

  18. actually drinking a green smoothie while reading this post 🙂

    i love kale and banana smoothies, maybe i’ll try a romaine now. Add some cacao nibs in that and you’ll be in heaven! Its my usual morning drink.. cacao nibs almond milk/coconut water with kale/spinach banana and ice. Sometimes depending on my day i add some avocado or hemp seeds or both to keep me feeling fuller if i have longer hours to work. A yummy yummy smoothie!

  19. Hi Gena!
    I pretty much had the exact same reaction as you did when I first heard the term “green smoothie” – I mean, yeah, I have been known to eat salads in my time, but liquidy blended greens?? Well of course, now I know that they are a sweet and unique way to get some vitamins in. 🙂
    By the way, I was surprised that a recipe with 6 large romaine leaves was so orange. Usually my smoothies are decidedly GREEN.

  20. hi gena,
    i made your zucchini pasta with red pepper marinara but without sundried tomatoes beacuse i didnt have any. it was soo good and i cant wait to make it again!

    The smoothie recipe looks good but i thought it was best to eat fruit by itself. what happens (in terms of digestion) when you mix all these things together? (i’m mainly curious about mixing fruit with the tahini.)
    thanks!

  21. Gorgeous smoothie! (I think several us opted for the smoothie MoFo post today…yours much more eloquent) 😉

    Here’s what struck me:
    “Accept that vegetarianism is only a stepping stone between meat eating and veganism. There may be vegans who made the change all in one leap, but I’m sure that for most people vegetarianism is a necessary staging post.”

    I was an eight-year vegetarian before going vegan. Looking back, it really was a process and ultimate goal, I just didn’t realize it at the time.

  22. I recently turned on a fellow massage therapy classmate to the green smoothie AND chia seeds… it’s fun to meet someone so open to trying new things as I have been! 🙂

  23. Kristen Suzanne recently posted a banana and romaine salad recipe (i think?) and at first it seemed strange, but when I thought about it the flavours do fit! I think this smoothie will turn out to be one of my new faves.

    Ps – beautiful song!

  24. I happen to love green smoothies because they don’t taste “green” at all… Green juice, on the other hand, is not something I can drink without holding my nose!
    I love Watson’s idea of veganism being easy–“grasping a few simple facts and applying them.” There are so many fad diets out there that you have to weigh your food or have 2 servings of this at this time and 6 servings of that at that time. Veganism is anything but that. I eat as much as I want whenever I want and still stay thin.
    “Accept that vegetarianism is only a stepping stone between meat eating and veganism.” This is absolutely true. I was a vegetarian for 4 1/2 years before going vegan about 8 months ago. I’ll never go back. Thanks for posting this interview, Gena!

  25. Yum yum! My 2 year old could live on green smoothies…without the fruit, to boot! Thanks for another recipe to add to our routine 🙂

  26. Gena, I know you only through your blog and you are awesome.
    Love that smoothie and will try it ASAP. Thanks

      • Whenever I read your posts they are always informative and you’ve got great ideas. Your passion towards “healthy” eating is contagious ! LOL !