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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

30 Days of Green Smoothies



A month ago, I joined Amanda from Run To The Finish and committed to drinking one green smoothie a day for the month of June. I decided to do the challenge mainly because: 1) I wasn't getting enough veggies in my diet; and 2) I struggled with afternoon fatigue and often had a hard time focusing during that part of the day. I would often need a quick nap in the middle of the day in order to have enough energy to power through the afternoon and the dreaded after-school / dinner / bath / bedtime portion of the day.

For someone who had never had a green smoothie before June 1, the challenge wasn't as difficult as I was expecting it to be. I didn't find the flavor or texture that weird or different or gross. The greens just added another dimension to the smoothie flavor. I did have one smoothie each day for 30 days even while I was traveling. I guess it helps that I was traveling to places like LA and Asheville, NC.



Over the course of the month, I started to experiment a little more. I don't know if it's because I generally like smoothies or because I previously worked at Jamba Juice in college but I didn't find the green smoothies intimidating. I was willing to throw in any combination of greens and fruits/frozen fruit that we had in the house. My green smoothie concoctions started to take over my Instagram feed!

After my update following the first week of the challenge, I continued to notice some changes.
  • Less hungry before lunch and during the day: I typically have breakfast around 7am or 7:30am and am ravenous by 10/10:30am. During the challenge, I was less hungry before lunch, meaning that I was less likely to snack or take in extra calories. I tried moving my green smoothie to the afternoon to see if it would have the same effect on my afternoon cravings but I found that it was harder to make smoothies later in the day. I'm not quite sure why.
  • Drinking less coffee: Previously, I would be a wreck if I didn't have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. But during the challenge, I found that I didn't need or rely on coffee as much. I'm not sure if it was because I didn't want to drink a smoothie and coffee at the same time for breakfast. Sometimes I would have a coffee later in the day but there would also be days when I would have no coffee. That was an unexpected side effect.
  • Less naps: Along with the less coffee, I found that I wasn't taking my mid-afternoon nap at all. It wasn't that I was getting more sleep at night (I was actually sleeping far less hours). I was also super busy and stressed with work this month and frankly couldn't afford a cat nap. That may have had something to do with it but it's possible that the green smoothies helped too.
  • Requests from my husband: An unexpected side effect was that my husband is now hooked on green smoothies too. He requests green smoothies now, or at least insists that I make enough for two.



Over the course of the month, i figured out some tips and tricks that made the process easier. Here are a couple of things that worked for me:
  • Green smoothie for breakfast: It worked best for me to have a green smoothie first thing in the morning for breakfast when I was more likely to actually make and drink the smoothie.
  • Prep your greens and veggies ahead of time: This saved me a ton of time in the mornings. I would rinse and spin my greens and then store the greens in the salad spinner in the refrigerator. 
  • Balance the flavor: If I used a more distinctive vegetable in my smoothie (i.e. kale or swiss chard), I tried to balance the flavor with a sweeter fruit like frozen pineapple or mango. That helped to cut any of the bitterness of the greens and helped mask the flavor a bit.
  • Frozen bananas: Frozen bananas are a great addition to green smoothies. If you prep your own frozen bananas, do NOT cut some bananas up into slices and throw them all together into a tupperware container in the freezer. The banana slices will all stick together, making it kind of hard to actually get them out when you need them. Yeah, learned this the hard way. You can lay the banana slices on a plate or tray in the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can combine them in a container and store in the freezer.
  • Add the greens first. I mentioned this before but just a reminder that you should add your greens as one of your first ingredients in your blenders This will help ensure that your greens get thoroughly blended.
I know that green smoothies aren't for everyone but it's safe to say that I'm hooked on green smoothies. While I may not have them every day going forward, I'm pretty sure that I will have them a couple of times during the week. Overall, I'm really glad  that I did this.

Are you a regular green smoothie drinker or a newbie? If you do drink green smoothies, have you noticed any differences in how you feel? Do you have any other tips to add to my list here? 




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38 Comments:

At July 3, 2012 at 1:17 AM , Blogger Dominique xoxo said...

I loveeeeee green smoothies for many of the same reasons you mentioned- it just sets you up on a healthy tone all day :)

 
At July 3, 2012 at 8:12 AM , Blogger Krysten said...

Nutritious and Delicious! WAY TO GO!

 
At July 3, 2012 at 8:46 AM , Blogger Running With Sass said...

I love green smoothies but havent made one in awhile. must change that!

 
At July 3, 2012 at 9:20 AM , Anonymous Becky @ RunFunDone said...

I've never tried anything other than spinach, but you definitely can't taste the spinach! I've been surprised by how much people think it's a bad idea! My husband told me it was "gross" until I made him try it...he couldn't believe that the spinach didn't change the taste!

 
At July 3, 2012 at 10:22 AM , Blogger Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

yeahhh i am so glad that not only you but your family got in on this challenge and really loved it!! I have been traveling the last week and sorely missing my homemade green smoothies!! i downed a large one this morning and have plans for another this afternoon :)

 
At July 3, 2012 at 12:34 PM , Anonymous Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run said...

I always add my greens first, and you're right...it does help them get blended. I'm a BIG fan of frozen bananas because of how creamy they make the smoothies. I think I might have a green monstah this afternoon now. :D

 
At July 3, 2012 at 12:43 PM , OpenID Ilene, The Fierce Diva Guide to Life said...

I love your recap! And of course, I recognize so many of those pictures! I found too that I relied less on coffee with a daily smoothie. Coffee, the last frontier for me. Just don't want to give it up. Was so happy to be in the challenge with you!

 
At July 3, 2012 at 12:52 PM , Blogger Jolene said...

Yum, your concoctions looked SO good on instagram! I really enjoyed all the varieties you made and seeing your recap here, I think I am going to give one a try soon. Did you ever determine how many calories were in them? That's what I am curious about - would it become my breakfast or in addition to it, for example (guessing the former!).

 
At July 3, 2012 at 1:30 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I completely agree. I definitely felt better when I started my day off with a green smoothie.

 
At July 3, 2012 at 1:30 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Krysten!

 
At July 3, 2012 at 1:34 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I wasn't expecting to like them as much as I do but I'm a convert!

 
At July 3, 2012 at 1:37 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Really? I've just gotten funny looks from people (especially my kids) but once they take a sip, they too are surprised that you really can't taste the greens. I was totally surprised when my husband started drinking my leftovers and then asking for his own or being sad when I didn't make enough for two.

 
At July 3, 2012 at 1:37 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thank YOU for encouraging me to do this challenge. I was surprised that my husband jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon. My kids still give me funny looks and my youngest asks, "Mommy, why are you drinking a green smoothie?" but I'm working on them :-)

 
At July 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM , Blogger Christine said...

It totally makes a different adding the greens first. You're right, frozen bananas are a great addition.

 
At July 3, 2012 at 1:39 PM , Blogger Christine said...

You totally are the green smoothie queen! You inspired me to do more with my smoothies. I don't think that I can quite give up coffee either. Comfort thing?

 
At July 3, 2012 at 1:41 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I never officially figured out the calorie count but I tried to be mindful of serving sizes and how much of each ingredient I was adding. For the most part, I was only adding coconut water, greens, fruit and a big tablespoon of nonfat yogurt. The big calorie addition was protein powder. Mine ended up being my breakfast rather than in addition to my breakfast. Sometimes I would have a slice of toast or something small if I was super hungry.

 
At July 3, 2012 at 3:38 PM , Blogger christine said...

I don't make green smoothies. To be honest, we need a new blender, the one we have now keeps everything pretty chunky (I can't imagine it actually blending spinach). But after reading your post I am totally going to get on that. I need the good side effects you found from this. Less coffee? No naps? More energy? Sign me up!

 
At July 3, 2012 at 9:29 PM , Anonymous Charlotte (@Char__Latte) said...

I have to admit I'm relatively new to the green smoothies. for a while I've been adding some spinach but not enough to change the flavor too much, it sort of freaked me out.

But I finally bit the bullet after some research. I had no idea until recently that celery is a HUGE anti-inflammatory.... Will be now going in EVERY smoothie ;)

 
At July 3, 2012 at 11:19 PM , Blogger Heather @ Just a Colorado Gal said...

I love green smoothies, and green juice too (with my juicer). I love that I can pack in a ton of spinach or kale (that I probably don't get enough of otherwise) and make it taste delicious!

 
At July 4, 2012 at 3:52 AM , Anonymous Smoothies said...

This post made me crave a green smoothie, thanks a lot ;(...just kidding! Sheesh I think I can wait till the morning ;X

 
At July 4, 2012 at 6:40 AM , Anonymous MizFit said...

you KNOW my family is in in in!!
we love our shrek shakes.

 
At July 4, 2012 at 8:28 PM , Blogger Cotter Crunch said...

i am on a 2 a day shake/smoothie kick. Greens first, good tip! and lots of ice! the colder the better!

 
At July 7, 2012 at 1:10 PM , OpenID barefootmeds said...

I'm interested in doing this. I need to eat more healthily and I get REALLY tired during the day, which is not great when I'm on a 12-hour shift. Do you have any recipe suggestions?
Visiting via SITS Sharefest :)

 
At July 7, 2012 at 2:52 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I was actually pretty surprised that I felt better/more energy. Not a bad side effect, right? I started with an old clunky blender too which was OK. Thought about just using a food processor but convinced my husband to buy me a Vitamix for Mother's Day and my birthday.

 
At July 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I saw your tweet!! I will have to add celery too. I'm not a huge celery fan but had it in a juice once and it was really good.

 
At July 7, 2012 at 2:58 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I honestly don't really follow a recipe - mainly just mix and match whatever's in the house. I tend to use a flavored coconut water for a base but you can also use milk, soy / almond / hemp / etc. milk, or just plain water. Then add greens - baby spinach is the easiest to start with since you can't really taste it, then fruit + some nonfat plain yogurt and/or protein powder. One of my fav combinations is posted here: http://lovelifesurf.blogspot.com/2012/06/green-smoothie-challenge-update.html

I don't know if you're on Pinterest but I have a bunch of green smoothie recipes pinned there: http://pinterest.com/lovelifesurf/food-and-drink/

Hope this helps and good luck!! Would love to hear how it goes

 
At July 7, 2012 at 2:59 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I definitely wouldn't get enough greens otherwise!! I'm glad that this is an easy way to get more into my diet.

 
At July 7, 2012 at 2:59 PM , Blogger Christine said...

haha! Er, sorry!

 
At July 7, 2012 at 3:00 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I'm trying to convince my kids to drink them too.

 
At July 7, 2012 at 3:01 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I was totally on a 2 a day kick for a while too! So good. Definitely the colder the better.

 
At July 7, 2012 at 11:09 PM , Blogger Amber @ Backwards Life said...

I'll admit that I didn't do my full 30 days, but I've been drinking spinach smoothies for a while now so that counts right? HA!

One tip I learned was to freeze your spinach so it basically shatters when you blend it. Keeps it from getting chunky. I buy the pre-washed bagged kind (I stock up when it's on sale) and just toss the bags in the freezer. It's probably not as nutrient rich since I freeze it but it's handy and better than none at all ;D

 
At July 8, 2012 at 4:25 PM , Blogger Amy Farrington said...

So I'm intrigued by the whole idea and I love a smoothie. But my question is to the availability of the produce - did you find a lot at a market or at your supermarket? Surprisingly, I live in Sarasota, Florida, we don't have as much fresh produce as you'd think so I'm often kind of limited in general. I guess you could buy and freeze, but anyway - any thoughts?

 
At July 9, 2012 at 2:00 PM , Blogger Kelly Sutton said...

This is a great article!! I started drinking green smoothies about a year ago and have never felt better. I love the helpful blending hints, too. Thanks so much for sharing your great ideas :)

Amy Farrington...Spinach and chard taste really good with oranges and grapefruits...fyi. We have to go to the Farmer's market all summer to get enough fruit to freeze for the winter, but that is a good way to get a head start. And remember, it's better to eat fruits and veggies that are frozen or not straight from the local farm, than not eating them at all :)

 
At July 9, 2012 at 3:37 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Totally counts. I remember you mentioning something about dairy. That's a great tip about the spinach. i will have to try that!

 
At July 9, 2012 at 3:41 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Hi Amy! I buy most of my produce at the supermarket but try to buy from the farmers market when I can get there. You can definitely buy and freeze and I've also used frozen spinach when I couldn't get to the store to buy fresh. I agree with Kelly below that frozen veggies are better than no veggies. Plus, a lot of times the produce is frozen soon after picking. Hope that helps!

 
At July 9, 2012 at 3:43 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Kelly! I really am loving my green smoothies too. Great tip about the spinach/swiss chard and citrus. I haven't really added citrus to mine so will have to try that!

 
At July 17, 2012 at 7:16 PM , Blogger Amy Farrington said...

Thanks guys! I'm in and am going to give it a try.

 
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