You’ll need to pre-freeze some of the ingredients in this smoothie the night before you plan to drink it
Leafy greens contain tons of vitamins A, C, K, B and folate as well as solid amounts of minerals, and of course fiber. These are all things we need to be healthy but unfortunately many of us hear the words “leafy greens” and cringe. Yuck!
If you want to fit more greens into your diet but you’re not a big fan of the way they taste then smoothies are your best bet. This smoothie recipe is micronutrient dense but tastes yummy even to those who are totally new to the green smoothie. I call it a “shake” because it’s frozen, which replicates the mouthfeel of an ice cream shake.
First I’ll give you the smoothie recipe then I’ll follow up with the nutrition information about the vitamins, minerals, and plant hormetic compounds in this smoothie and their related health benefits.
You will need a blender. I use a ninja professional blender which I’ve had for about two years and use all the time. Somehow my husband broke the little plastic door thingy on the lid but other than that it’s held up really well.
- 1 banana
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 an apple (keep the skin on but lose the seeds)
- 1 cup of blueberries
- 2 oz of broccoli sprouts (these aren’t totally necessary but they do add an incredible nutrient called sulforaphane to your diet which I’ll tell you a little bit about below)
- 3 cups of baby spinach (about one large handful)
- 3 cups of baby kale (also about 1 large handful. Baby kale is more palatable than curly kale but adult kale is more nutritious so if you’re up to it go for the real stuff.)
- 2 cups of flax milk (or whatever)
- 1 tablespoon of cacao (I use cacao nibs but you may want to find powder unless you have a really good blender)
- 1-2 tablespoons of almond butter (this just makes it yummier)
- 2 tablespoons of Hydrolized Collagen
The Hydrolized Collagen is something recommended by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, who got me started on my whole green smoothie kick. For more info about Hydrolized Collagen check out my review of the brand recommended by Dr. Patrick, Great Lakes Gelatin’s Collagen Hydrolisate.
The Trick: in order to make this smoothie into a tasty frozen shake pre-cut the banana, avocado, and apple and put them in a bag with the blueberries and broccoli sprouts. Freeze this the night before. The next day throw it all in the blender and enjoy. You can add more or less milk depending on the consistency you prefer.
The freezing not only turns this into a delicious frozen shake but it doubles the amount of sulforaphane in your broccoli sprouts. This allows me to make one package of broccoli sprouts last longer by keeping the sprouts from going bad and by halving the dose I need to take to take for nutritional benefits. A slew of scientific research has proven sulforaphane to be effective at everything from boosting your mood to fighting colon, prostate, and breast cancers. It’s also the most powerful natural inducer of our liver’s detoxifying enzyme system. There is 10-100x more sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts than any other vegetable.
For a really in-depth review of the incredible health benefits of this plant hormetic compound check out Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s 48 minute youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz4YVJ4aRfg
Other Nutritional Benefits
It is always better to get vitamins from food sources than from supplements because they tend to be more bioavailable, meaning we can readily use and absorb them.
The leafy green veggies in this smoothie are all rich in magnesium. Our bodies use magnesium for more than 300 biochemical reactions including muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm, regulation of the immune system, and bone density. Magnesium also promotes normal blood pressure, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Yet 68% of Americans are magnesium deficient, which may contribute to heart disease and many other illnesses.
Banana – especially high in potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and B6. Bananas are a great dietary source of potassium which is essential for heart health, especially blood pressure control and healthy kidney function. Bananas sweeten this smoothie while ranking low on the glycemic index, which means this sweet treat won’t spike your blood sugar.
Apples & Blueberries – Apple skin and blueberries are high in the flavanoids quercetin, anthocyanins, and epicatechins. Flavonoids are best known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits as well as the support of the cardiovascular and nervous systems. They also help support detoxification of potentially tissue-damaging molecules which may decrease the risk of certain types of cancers, including lung and breast cancer. Of course these fruits also contain high concentrations of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. I usually get a huge tub of blueberries at Sam’s or Costco when they’re in season, wash them and put them in the freezer, then I just use a cup of those in every smoothie.
Avocado – High in potassium, vitamin E, vitamin K, and monounsaturated fat. At a recommended daily intake of 4700 mg it is very difficult to get enough potassium in our diets. Fortunately a large avocado contains almost 1000 mg of this crucial nutrient. Avocados are also rich in vitamin K which helps strengthen bones, keep arteries clear, and optimizes blood-clotting. And don’t let the “fat” scare you away. Avocados contain plenty of monounsaturated oleic fatty acid, a “heart healthy” fat that can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Kale – Plenty of vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, zeaxanthin, lutein, vitamin c and even some more sulforaphane. Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin, and helps prevent lung and oral cancers. Lutein and zeaxanthan are two carotenoids that have been shown to enhance visual performance and prevent age-related macular degeneration. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss and osteoporosis. Kale is also filled with fiber and sulfur-containing compounds, both of which are great for liver health and detoxification.
Spinach – loaded with zinc, niacin, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, and potassium. Antioxidants in spinach keep cholesterol from oxidizing and protect your body from harmful free radicals. Spinach is an especially rich source of folate which is crucial for proper brain function, and plays important roles in mental health, red blood-cell production, and helps prevent anemia.
Flax Milk – This is a great source of Alpha Linolenic Acid, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and may help prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease and arthritis. Researchers still aren’t sure whether supplements would have the same effect as food-sourced ALA, so your best bet is to try to consume some occasional flax seed or flax milk.
Cacao – I mostly add this for the chocolatey flavor it lends to the frozen drink but it’s important to recognize that raw organic cacao contains 40x the antioxidants of blueberries and is a known mood elevator and anti-depressant.