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    Drink your vegetables

    Start your year with delicious green smoothies.

    Kale apple ginger smoothie.
    Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty
    Kale apple ginger smoothie.

    With another holiday season signed, sealed, and delivered, many of us are now looking to clean up our dietary acts. To my friend Elizabeth, ditching the treats and upping her intake of green, leafy vegetables is “going on the natch,’’ to her mother, it’s “twigs and ice water.”

    But maybe you don’t have to ditch the treats. Green smoothies, with vitamin-packed ingredients like kale and spinach, make great breakfasts and snacks. I always include some thinly sliced frozen banana for sweetness, consistency, and a little chill. Likewise, chunks of frozen pineapple and mango are good but need to be thawed a bit before use so they don’t kill the blender.

    KALE-APPLE-GINGER SMOOTHIE

    Serves 2 (makes about 3½ cups)

    One tablespoon of minced ginger gives a mild zip; use more if you like it stronger.

    3 ice cubes

    1¼ cups apple cider

    2 packed cups torn, stemmed kale leaves

    1 ablespoon minced fresh ginger, or more, to taste

    1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

    Salt

    1 medium apple, chopped

    ½ banana, sliced and frozen

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    Place the ice in the blender and pulse to crush. Add the cider, kale, ginger, lemon juice, and a tiny pinch of salt; pulse to begin breaking up the greens and then blend, at first on medium and gradually adjusting to high, to liquefy, 20 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your blender. Add the apple and banana, and blend until the mixture is uniform, thick, and moves easily in the blender jar, about 45 seconds. Taste and adjust with additional ginger, if desired (blending to incorporate), and serve.

    SPINACH-MANGO SMOOTHIE

    Serves 2 (makes about 3½ cups)

    3 ice cubes

    1½ cups orange juice, cold

    2 cups, packed, baby spinach or torn, stemmed mature leaves

    Salt

    1 medium mango, peeled, pitted, roughly chopped (about 1 cup), and frozen; thawed to soften a bit

    ½ banana, sliced and frozen

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    Place the ice in the blender and pulse to crush. Add the orange juice, spinach, and a tiny pinch of salt; pulse to begin breaking up the greens and then blend, at first on medium and gradually adjusting to high, to liquefy the solids, 20 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your blender. Add the mango and banana, and blend until the mixture is uniform, thick, and moves easily in the blender jar, about 45 seconds, and serve.

    SPINACH-CUCUMBER-MINT SMOOTHIE

    Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty
    TIP: High-speed blenders like the Vitamix handle all the ingredients at once, but with most standard-issue blenders, it’s a good idea to chop the ice and greens with the liquid thoroughly before adding other ingredients.

    Serves 2 (makes about 3½ cups)

    This has a clean, green flavor with a faint sweetness. If you prefer a sweeter drink add 1 tablespoon of honey, or more, to taste. If you opt for baby spinach, there’s no need to remove the stems. This is inspired by a recipe on Thugkitchen.com.

    3 ice cubes

    1 cup pineapple juice

    2 cups, packed, baby spinach or torn, stemmed mature leaves

    cup, packed, mint leaves

    1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

    1 tablespoon honey, or more, optional

    Salt

    1 small cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped

    ½ banana, sliced and frozen

    Place the ice in the blender and pulse to crush. Add the pineapple juice, spinach, mint, lemon juice, honey (if using), and a tiny pinch of salt; pulse to begin breaking up the greens and then blend, at first on medium and gradually adjusting to high, to liquefy the solids, 20 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your blender. Add the cucumber and banana, and blend until the mixture is uniform, thick, and moves easily in the blender jar, about 45 seconds. Taste and adjust the seasoning with honey, if desired (blending to incorporate), and serve.

    KALE-COCONUT-PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE

    Serves 2 (makes about 3½ cups)

    3 ice cubes

    1½ cups light coconut milk

    2 cups torn, stemmed kale leaves, packed

    1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

    Salt

    1½ cups roughly chopped pineapple, frozen; thawed to soften a bit

    ½ banana, sliced and frozen

    Place the ice in the blender and pulse to crush. Add the coconut milk, kale, lime juice, and a tiny pinch of salt; pulse to begin breaking up the greens and then blend, at first on medium and gradually adjusting to high, to liquefy the solids, 20 seconds to 1 minute (depending on your blender). Add the pineapple and banana, and blend until the mixture is uniform, thick and moves easily in the blender jar, about 45 seconds, and serve.

    KALE-BANANA-DATE SMOOTHIE

    Serves 2 (makes about 3½ cups)

    3 large ice cubes

    1½ cups almond milk, cold

    2 packed cups torn, stemmed kale leaves

    2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

    Salt

    ¼ cup chopped pitted dates (about 2 large)

    1 banana, sliced and frozen

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    Place the ice in the blender and pulse to crush. Add the almond milk, kale, lemon juice, and a tiny pinch of salt; pulse to begin breaking up the greens and then blend, at first on medium and gradually adjusting to high, to liquefy the solids, 20 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your blender. Add the dates and banana, and blend until the mixture is uniform, thick, and moves easily in the blender jar, about 45 seconds, and serve.

    Send comments to cooking@globe.com.