Smoothies are a tasty way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Smoothies are often associated with fruits, such as bananas, berries and melons, however vegetables can be included as well. Green smoothies can incorporate a variety of greens, such as spinach, kale and parsley.
Collard greens are a non-traditional green to include in smoothies, but they incorporate well. The leaves are tough and bitter but combine well with fruits. Collard greens are high in vitamins A, C and K, calcium, folate and manganese. Due to the toughness of the leaves, coarsely chop them before putting them in your blender. Some blenders with a sharp blade may be able to handle the leaves in their whole form.
Kale is in the same family as collard greens and shares the characteristic of having tough leaves. For this reason, it is best to chop the kale prior to putting it in the blender. Kale is a great source of calcium, vitamins A, C and K and a variety of antioxidants beneficial to the immune system.
Spinach is a dark, leafy green high in vitamin K, calcium, potassium, magnesium, carotenoids and B vitamins. Spinach leaves are easily processed using a blender because their leaves are soft and tender. Spinach pairs well with fruits commonly used in smoothies, such as berries and bananas.
Although often looked at simply as a garnish, parsley is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C and K, folate, calcium and iron. Two varieties of parsley are available, curly and Italian. Curly parsley is the type most used for a garnish whereas flat leaf Italian parsley is most used in a variety of recipes, including smoothies.
Dandelion greens are not commonly included in green smoothies, although they are a great addition when making a smoothie intended for detox purposes. They naturally help cleanse the liver and gallbladder. These greens are found wild but are sold in specialty stores and farmer's markets. This particular green is very bitter, thus use very strong-flavored fruits, such as bananas and pineapple, to help make the flavor more tolerable.
Swiss chard is a member of the same family as spinach and beets. This green is similar in flavor to spinach and has soft leaves that blend well in smoothies and shakes. Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, vitamins A, C and K, potassium and magnesium. There are several varieties of Swiss chard, characterized by color. It is available in green, red, orange, yellow and white types. Like most greens, it goes bad quickly, thus it should be consumed within three days of picking or purchasing.
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