BLOOMINGTON, Ill — Bring on the green! Smoothies are commonly made with fruit, but why not add in some other healthy ingredients to get more nutrition in your cup? Jenna Smith, University of Illinois Extension registered dietitian and nutrition and wellness educator, is here to help you pick apart a smoothie and give you good reasons to let your smoothie go green.
Ingredient #1- Spinach: This nutrient-packed vegetable has so many benefits for the body that it is often touted as a superfood. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A and K, and it is full of vitamin C, folate, and potassium. This green shines in cancer prevention, containing chlorophyll and carotene, which are both shown to block cancer-causing agents. If you do not have spinach on hand, grab other dark leafy greens, such as kale or beet greens.
Ingredient #2- Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt has been on the frontline for quite some time, but why exactly all the hype? According to Smith, Greek yogurt has double the protein compared to traditional yogurt, and the yogurt is strained to remove excess liquid, therefore giving Greek yogurt a thicker consistency. With the extra protein in the yogurt, this smoothie can help you feel full longer. Probiotics are packed into Yogurt, and those healthy bacteria keep your intestinal tract running smoothly.
Ingredient #3- Fruit: Fruit, either whole or in juice, is a must-have in green smoothies to help tone down or mask any bitterness from the greens. “You can add almost any fruit to a smoothie, but bananas are an easy go-to option because they carry their flavor very well, and you likely have them sitting in the cabinet,” says Smith. Smoothies are also a great way to use up overly ripe bananas. A little trick is to store a banana or two in the freezer, to create a creamy texture that cannot compare. However, if you do not have a frozen banana, use fresh and simply add ice cubes to the blender.
While green smoothies may seem a bit scary, the ingredients in them are basic and full of nutrients that will help you become a healthier you!
1 container (5.3 oz.) vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt
2 frozen bananas
3 cups spinach
¼ cup water or non-fat milk, or to desired consistency
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth without any lumps. Pour equal amounts into two cups and enjoy!
Yield: 2 servings, 8 oz. each
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 177 calories, 1-gram fat, 61 milligrams sodium, 38 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 9 grams protein
For more recipes like this one and additional nutritional programs, please visit us at go.illinois.edu/lmw or call us at our University of Illinois Extension McLean County Office at (309) 663-8306. You can also follow Jenna’s Blog, Simply Nutritious, Quick & Delicious at web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb245/.
University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please call (309) 663-8306.
— Jenna Smith
Extension Educator-Nutrition & Wellness
University of Illinois Extension
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