It’s hot. Too hot to turn the oven on, some might say (I might agree). But a girl can only eat so many salads before she does something crazy, like eat ice cream for lunch (I’m sure I don’t know anyone who would do this).
The versatile smoothie can be a nice change of pace — ovenless and easy, and gluten-free by default — but while a smoothie for breakfast sounds reasonable, a dinner smoothie seems weird. It shouldn’t, though: there are lots of ways to sneak that salad into your smoothie, making it a great meal for any time.
The key word there is “sneak”. Yes, it’s definitely possible to make a very vegetable smoothie (that tastes like it’s full of vegetables), but it’s also possible to make one that is sweet and refreshing and traditional-seeming at first glance (that has a deep, dark vegetal secret). OK, well, it might be green and that might make the secret less secret. But still! Read on for the best green vegetables to introduce to your blender.
By far the vegetable that packs the most nutritious punch with the least amount of taste-modification is spinach. Whether baby or regular, a bit of spinach in your smoothie is a low-cal way to boost your vitamins A, K, C and a handful of the Bs, along with manganese, folate, magnesium, iron and even calcium.
The Spinach Girl includes spinach on her list of mild veggies, but also suggests nice pairings for cabbage, carrot, zucchini, and squash. Yum!
Joy the Baker also has a love of smoothies, and lets us in on a secret: cucumber will thicken a smoothie! Now, cucumbers aren’t known for their resounding amount of vitamins — but they have a good amount of vitamin K, flavanoids, and some other potentially-helpful and certainly not harmful molecules, says WHFoods.com. Have a look at Joy’s Strawberry Cucumber Smoothie for a good starting place (bonus smoothie ideas at that link include Kale, Spinach and Pear, and Super Citrus. YUM).
On that note — kale is another green veggie that you can easily introduce to your smoothies. It’s got oodles of vitamins, plus fiber and tryptophan (that same amino acid in turkey that makes everyone nap on Thanksgiving). Real Simple includes both kale and celery in a refreshing, dairy-free smoothie. Or, take a look at these other options from Incredible Smoothies.
One last contender is avocado. Avocados are higher in fat and calories than the other green veggies, but it’s a good fat, and it comes with plenty of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins K, C, B5 and B6. Plus, avocados are creamy enough to add a pleasant, dairy-like consistency to your smoothie. Bon Appetit has a grown-up recipe with basil and lime, and Global Table Adventure has one that combines grapefruit and avocado for a vegan treat.
What’s your favorite way to sneak green vegetables into a gluten-free summer smoothie?