My Big, Fat, Green Smoothies – on a budget

“Let Food be thy Medicine, and Medicine be thy Food.”

Hippocrates lived around 460 B.C.; amazing, isn’t that we still haven’t learned this lesson – at least I always need to keep reminding myself! One thing I think I do right? I try to start off nearly every morning with a green smoothie – some hopeful family members refer to these “tongue in cheek” as Shamrock Shakes. In my own mind, I refer to Green Smoothies as “Pond Scum.”

My Big Fat Green Smoothies
My Big Fat Green Smoothies

I make no attempt to make my Green Smoothies taste good. I simply drink them down like the medicine they are. If there is by chance an ingredient that seems like a flavoring, don’t be deceived: any flavor is incidental. Things like Cinnamon, Ginger, Tumeric, Citrus are all in my Green Smoothie for healthy reasons only.

Now I live frugally, and if you’ve done much reading on my blog, you’ll probably pick up the idea that I dislike waste – it makes me crazy. I have pages and pages about using left overs – see the tab at the top of the page. I make Spa Water from Fruit and some vegetable peelings, skins, etc. I save peels from garlic, onions, parts of celery that most discard and use along with Chicken bones for my lovely Chicken Stock.

It took about two days of drinking Green Smoothies to realize that much of what was designated for the trash or compost would be better served feeding me – just because a piece or part of a vegetable or fruit isn’t attractive to eat or serve doesn’t mean it is any less nutritious than the rest of it. Some parts we often discard are just as rich in vitamins, nutrients and fiber, or even more so than the parts we eat. Citrus peels, for example.

I’ve also learned to use up any left over vegetables I fear may languish in the fridge, the water they’re cooked in, as well as sauces like salsa, tomato sauces, etc. If there’s a little dab of pesto, or a bit of left over what ever, that I think is just going to languish until it’s no longer edible, it’s a prime candidate for my blender.

I take the cup of my Blender and add in all the pieces and parts of dinner that I’m not using as well as any vegetables, etc., not designated for a better use, then cap it and put it in the fridge. Before I go to bed I add spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and whatever else is going into the smoothie. The next morning I can add water, cooking liquid, green tea, yogurt if I’m using, ice, etc. and blend it up.

The base of my Green Smoothies is almost always Kale, but sometimes Spinach or Swiss Chard plus the left overs from my cooking the day before (scraps, peelings, stems, etc.) In addition, I add 1″ piece of Ginger (peel and all), a teaspoon of Cinnamon or Tumeric, 1/2 of a citrus fruit, usually lemon, or any citrus peels. I often add a mushroom or two or a bit of tomato unless I already have scraps to use.

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What I save for Green Smoothies:

  • Pieces and or seeds of tomato, but not stems or leaves.
  • Peelings and ends of broccoli.
  • Stems cut off mushrooms.
  • Core of cabbage or cauliflower.
  • Citrus that has been juiced.
  • Leaves and stems from any greens or herbs (I save some parsley and cilantro in my freezer for soups)
  • The skin of kiwis, apple, pear, peaches, etc., unless I am using them for Spa Water.
  • The core of pineapple, which is the most nutrient dense part, but not the skins.
  • Beet greens and stems.
  • Radish pieces and leaves.
  • Carrot stems.
  • Just about any fruit or vegetable that I happen to be using will be likely to contribute something to my green smoothie, unless it’s on the list below.
  • Left over vegetables and sauces.
  • Cooking water from vegetables.
  • Peelings from Ginger.
  • If in any doubt that a portion of a fruit or vegetable is not ingestible, look it up!

There are a few things that don’t go in my Green Smoothies:

  • Pits or seeds that might be dangerous or not good to eat, like the seeds of cherries and apricots, plums and apples, as well as pits and seeds that aren’t blendable. I avoid all pits and seeds just so I don’t have to remember what is what, with the exception of celery and tomato and melon.
  • Potato or sweet potato skins; they go in the compost.
  • Parts of lettuce that aren’t used (too little nutritional value to make it worthwhile, so it would displace other more important vegetables.) Compost.
  • Celery, carrot and onion that I save for soup.
  • Fruit or vegetable peelings that I love in my Spa Water. One is cucumber, the rest is usually fruit or berries
  • Parts or pieces of vegetables or fruits that are rotten.
  • Parts of items that are waxed, although the wax probably wouldn’t cause harm.
  • Seeds and stems from Bell Peppers or Hot Peppers – The stems don’t blend well, and of the seeds, the first are extremely bitter, the second, awful hot. They go in compost unless I’m drying the hot seeds to use in recipes.
  • Parts of peppers that aren’t used in a recipe – like the bit around the stem – I usually chop it up to flavor cream cheese for spreads or toss in salads.
  • Apple Cores: they just get awfully nasty, and the seeds can form cyanide in the digestive track: they go in the compost.
  • Melon rinds: I don’t usually save or blend, they would displace much of the other items in my smoothies. I may add a bit of watermelon rind, and use some for Spa Water, and compost the rest, unless I happen to be making watermelon pickles.
  • Banana Peels: they absorb lots of chemicals, so unless it’s organic, I don’t bother blending them – they go in compost.
  • Stems of tomatoes, which contain an unsavory chemical.
  • Rhubarb leaves, which are poisonous.
  • If in any doubt that a portion of a fruit or vegetable is not ingestible, look it up!

Here are things that NEVER go in my green smoothies:

  • Fruit Juices
  • Protein Powders that are full of chemicals
  • Weird “power” or “healthy” formulations
  • Anything Chemical
  • Most Dairy, sometimes I add whey when I make yogurt or cheese
  • Soy, although this is a personal choice
  • Large amounts of fruit – maybe a few peels
  • Nut butters
  • Any sweetener, whether real or man made, in what ever form. I think that covers it all…stevia, agave, maple syrup, white, brown, turbinado, palm. I just suck it up and drink it!
  • Any dried fruit: dates, raisins, etc.
  • Trendy and expensive items that may become all the rage, but may not be well thought out additions: Flaxseed, high in Omega 6, is a perfect example.

Here’s what I Mix my Green Smoothies with:

  • If I happen to have it around, I may use some of the whey left over from my yogurt in my smoothie. Sometimes I add a little yogurt.
  • Sometimes I’ll use green tea.
  • If I think to save it, the water I’ve steamed my vegetables in.
  • Usually, I use plain old water.
  • Sometimes I add a few ice cubes – the cold helps to dull the taste a bit.

Plain, simple, wholesome and good for you. The spices and mushrooms are chosen because of their great anti inflammatory properties. Because the amounts I make may vary in volume, if I have any left over, I’ll put it in the fridge in one of my favorite jars.

I’ve heard a few things:

  • Kale is best a few minutes after being blended, so don’t drink immediately, but wait five minutes. See the link from the World’s Healthiest Foods.
  • I’ve also heard that green smoothies are best used within 20 minutes. For me…well, drinking one that’s been refrigerated is better than not drinking one at all. If it’s there and at the ready, I will drink it.

So how about you guys? Does any one out there have great tips on what to add to their green smoothies and how to keep costs reasonable?

7 thoughts on “My Big, Fat, Green Smoothies – on a budget”

  1. I never thought to use the peels – I wondered about it and the peels of oranges contain MORE vitamins than the inside. Mostly I like the idea of no waste – it’s like being a human dispose all! Plus sometimes I don’t like to eat the skins, but it wouldn’t be so bad to drink it down.

  2. This is a great idea. Though I’m still working my way up to an all veg smoothie…. But I like that you save peelings, etc. That is something I could do — especially for soups which I also make in my vitamix. 🙂

    1. Thanks! I certainly can’t say they taste good but I know they’re good for me!

      I often save the peelings of the onions, bits of celery etc., and if it doesn’t look like I’ll use them in time I’ll toss the whole works in the freezer.

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