I'm a huge fan of green drinks-been drinking them for years. Most of the time, I simply reach for my favorite mix, Barlean's Greens. But a few days a week, I'll whip one up from scratch. And this recipe from Chef Jeannette is one of my go-to favorites. Technically, it's not really a green drink-those are made exclusively from vegetables, grasses, and extracts. Instead it's a kind of hybrid, combining a mango/coconut Island-y feel with the bright green color and nutritional wallop of fresh spinach.
If you need a refresher on why spinach is good for you, check this out: it provides vitamin A, manganese, folic acid, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, and a powerful anti-inflammatory called quercetin. What's more, spinach is packed with calcium, and it's a great source of heart-protective, bone-supporting vitamin K. Plus it's loaded with plant chemicals called flavonoids, which function both as antioxidants and anticancer agents.
Health benefits aside, spinach makes a great addition to fruit-based or "mixed" smoothies because it combines as beautifully with apple, carrot, and ginger, as it does with mango and coconut. Really, it's great with any fruit. Sure, it turns things bright green, but that's a pretty cool look for a health drink anyway.
Our "Green Tonic" helps alkalize the system, which is a benefit to most of us who have overly acidic diets. Plus, it's great for kids, since the flavor is dominated by the sweetness of the fruits and the distinct coconut notes-they'll never even know they're drinking spinach!
Notes from Chef Jeannette
For green smoothies, you'll need to use a blender with a high-powered engine-such as the Vita-Mix-to get the right consistency. The Vita-Mix or equivalent is strong enough to break down the fibrous tissue of vegetables and form a drinkable liquid.
While it's certainly possible to juice your greens for a potent dose of nutrients, blending them instead keeps the fiber intact. Fiber is a noteworthy nutrient in its own right, but it also acts as time release for the natural sugars in produce, reducing the overall glycemic load of your drink.
Keep any leftovers in a mason jar in the refrigerator. Nutritionally, green smoothies are at their most potent right after blending, but they will last up to three days in the fridge.
Makes 1 quart (4 servings)
Depending on the juiciness and sweetness of the fruits you use, you may need to add more or less sweetener or water. Always start with less and add more until you reach your desired flavor/consistency.
1 small cucumber, peeled and quartered
1 fresh mango, peeled and pitted, or 1 cup diced frozen mango
Zest of 1 lemon
1 lime, peeled and halved
½-1 cup water or coconut water
1 1-inch knob peeled ginger root, optional
2 Tbs. shredded coconut, optional
1 5-oz. bag baby spinach
½ tsp. NuNaturals stevia, or 1-2 tsp. liquid sweetener
- Combine cucumber, mango, zest, lime, and water plus ginger root and coconut, if using, in sturdy blender (see "From Chef Jeannette"). Blend until smooth.
- Add one handful spinach, and blend until broken up. Repeat with remaining spinach. Add stevia to taste, and blend until completely smooth.
PER SERVING: 47 cal; 1g prot; <1g total fat (<1g sat fat); 12g carb; 0mg chol; 57mg sod; 4g fiber; 6g sugars