Crowd Pleasing Green Smoothie
A perfectly balanced green smoothie that you'll be sure to make again and again. It's packed with pear, lime, banana - and kale, but you'd almost never know! Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>
Funky juice bars are my jam. Whenever I visit a new city, I always make a point to check one out. I've had more than my fair share of spectacular smoothies...and definitely a handful of questionable ones (sadly, some things just don't belong in a blender together, ever). All in all, these experiences have instilled me with a key skill: not being weary of the green. Don't believe me yet? This smoothie will be enough to convince you that the grass really is greener on the other side. And if you're already a huge fan of the green? Well, I recommend you keep reading because you're going to love this one too. I promise.
A green smoothie is actually one of my favorite weekday breakfasts. I usually pack one with the intention of sipping it through the morning - but it usually doesn't make it past my walk to work! On the days it survives (phew), I'm often reminded of how strange a jar filled with green liquid is for most people. Most of my colleagues and friends have, at some point or another, inquired about this drink. Their expression usually includes a scrunched nose / eyebrows and a general sense of concern. I always offer, but only the bravest among them have given it a try. And, to their surprise, they like it! So, I've come to call this my Crowd Pleasing Green Smoothie. It always makes friends wherever it goes - and not just the kale-loving hippies out there!
While this smoothie has become a go-to breakfast choice for me, it's equally delicious at any time of the day. I find it perfect for calming the "hangry" in me after work (like those times I'm so hungry I could go "Godzilla" on my fridge), and when I'm still too lazy to exert any effort beyond chucking some ingredients into a blender.
And the combination is seriously a match made in heaven: the sweetness of the pears and bananas provide a perfect balance to the kale, and a splash of lime keeps everything zippy and refreshing. There's even a spoonful of hemp seeds to give you an added protein boost!
The star of this show is the juicy pear. Pears elevate this smoothie from being a scary, kale-packed "green monster" of a drink to a delicious, sweet smoothie (still with the kale, just a lot less scary). Not only are pears good sources of vitamin C and folic acid, but they're also excellent sources of fiber. A single pear can provide up to a whopping 20-25% of your daily fiber needs! Fiber is particularly key when it comes to fruit because it helps to balance out fruit's naturally occurring sugars - more specifically, it functions to blunt the blood sugar-raising effects by slowing carbohydrate digestion and absorption. This balance is reflected in the Glycemic Index, which scores foods based on how quickly their sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream. As a quick rule-of-thumb, a higher score means the sugars are absorbed more quickly, and lower means absorbed more slowly. At a GI score of 38, pears fall on the lower end of the spectrum, which means your body doesn't go into overdrive trying to control blood sugar levels after eating. A perfectly sweet breakfast without the sugar crash and late morning slump? Count me in!
For this smoothie, I prefer Bartlett pears because they're super sweet, juicy and impart that quintessential "pear flavor" to the drink. I also find that their skin is fairly soft, so it blends up nice and smooth (important when you are drinking your food!). When shopping for pears, you might see two types of Bartlett pears: red and yellow. For this smoothie I usually opt for yellow (more so for colour than anything)...it works out perfectly because the yellow kind tends to be more readily available anyways! And, don't be concerned if the yellow Barlett pears seem more green than yellow. Let them sit and ripen at room temperature at home - you'll see them develop a slight yellow hue as they ripen. And while I tend to reach for Barlett pears in this recipe, there are countless pear varieties, so feel free to pick your favorite for this recipe.
Prepping this smoothie is an absolute breeze - just throw everything in the blender and let it rip. Green smoothies are a great way to pack in a punch of nutrients into your morning, especially if you think things might slide throughout your day (e.g. a catered lunch meeting, dinner with friends after work, ice-cream just because...). And, for those of you who like to get a bit more shut-eye at the expense of a healthy breakfast (I'm guilty), this smoothie can help you break that compromise! It literally takes five minutes to prepare and you can sip it on-the-go. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
CROWD PLEASING GREEN SMOOTHIE
SERVES 2 (vegan, gluten free)
2 pears (Bartlett preferred)
2 1/2 cups chopped kale
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (~1 lime)
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons hemp seeds
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 cup ice cubes
Clean and roughly chop pears and kale.
Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Add more water, if desired.
Top with a pinch of additional hemp seeds for garnish, if desired.
-Depending on the strength of your blender, you may want to add ingredients in batches. If your blender is starting to look full after adding the kale, hold off on the bananas, and add them to the blender at the end.