February 18, 2011

may the green force be with you

The springlike weather in New York these last few days (expected high of 60 today!) has inspired me to experiment with breakfast smoothies. A raw greens smoothie is a great way to get a boost of leafy green power first thing in the morning - loaded with vitamins, minerals, and live enzymes - in a form that's delightfully creamy, lightly sweet, and portable, too.

This green smoothie is nothing like a drink made with "powdered greens," which often has an off-putting grainy texture and dark, swamplike taste. Making a smoothie with raw greens allows you to achieve an ultra-smooth texture, with the greens contributing bright, fresh flavors that are perfectly balanced by the other components, like banana and ginger.

My favorite combination so far has included Tuscan kale, cilantro, fresh ginger, lemon juice, banana, raw coconut creme, freshly ground flax seeds, and homemade almond milk.

Spring in a glass. Or a mason jar, which has become my preferred green smoothie drinking vessel. (It's sort of weird to tote a mason jar on the subway. So this might signal that it's time to move to Brooklyn. Or Berkeley. Or Portland - Maine or Oregon. Or Seattle.  Any cities I'm forgetting here?  ;)

superpowered raw greens smoothie
At home I use a regular blender to make my smoothies. But a Vita-Mix, if you have one, would make this even more kick-a$$ (yup, you know I have one on my wish list).

Combine the following in a blender and puree on high speed until thoroughly homogenized:
  • 3 loosely packed cups of leafy greens and herbs (such as kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro)
  • 1 cup almond milk (recipe below) (you could also use coconut water or plain water)
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped (about 2 heaping Tbsp)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
 Then add:
  • 1 banana, broken into smaller chunks
  • 1 heaping tsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 Tbsp raw coconut creme or coconut butter (you could also substitute almond butter)
  • A couple of ice cubes (optional - if you like your smoothies on the icy side)
Blend again until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more almond milk. Sip and feel the green energy (mason jar optional)!

Creamy Homemade Almond Milk
For almond milk I use raw California-grown almonds, which are softer and less crunchy than toasted almonds. By law, US-grown almonds must be steam-pasteurized before going to market, so technically speaking even almonds labeled "raw" are not truly raw. If you prefer using truly raw almonds, natural foods stores often carry imported raw almonds that have not been pasteurized (or so the label says).

This almond milk is great in the green smoothie and also makes a deliciously creamy bedtime brew, gently heated on the stovetop, spiced with ground cinnamon, and sweetened with a touch of raw honey.

Makes about 2 cups of almond milk.
  • 1 cup organic raw almonds, soaked for 8 to 12 hours in filtered water, drained, and rinsed (soaking makes the almonds easier to blend)
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 tsp organic almond extract (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp organic vanilla extract (optional)
Blend almonds and 2 cups of water in a blender on high speed for a few minutes until homogenized. Strain through a large strainer lined with a double layer of cheesecloth (or a nut-milk bag or clean cotton dish towel - whichever you choose, rinse and wring out thoroughly before using), over a bowl.

Squeeze the cheesecloth tightly to extract all of the milk from the almonds. (Though I have not tried it yet, I have heard that the leftover almond solids can be used in baking.)

Optionally, if you would like to boost the flavor of the almond milk, stir in the almond and vanilla extracts.

The milk will keep, tightly covered and chilled, for up to 1 week.


  1. We hit 70º briefly today---what a wonder---and a welcome break from winter. Great recipes---thanks especially for the Almond Milk. I am crazy about the color of your "Spring in a Glass."

  2. Lazy me will be tempted to throw some almonds in with the other stuff to see if a milk effect occurs. And in my town no one would seriously notice it if you carried a Mason jar! Some restaurants here serve ice water in Mason jars. We are a leeetle rustic out West:)

  3. Coconut creme in this makes me want to drink it. And I don't like green drinks..bad memories from pregnancy :)

  4. hi Nancy - wow, up to 70 today! I think we hit 66 - it was glorious! A reminder that winter will not last forever after all. And it's light after 5pm these days, too - another milestone. Enjoy :)

    Becky - why not, give it a try! You could also try using plain water and adding some almond butter, which will give it some extra body. And why is it so fun to drink out of a mason jar? I've seen restaurants serving desserts in them lately, too.

    Hi Jessica - uh-oh, sorry to bring back bad food memories - I think I did that to you recently with the kombu, too. Forgive me! ;) You're right, though, the coconut creme does the trick.

  5. I have been aware of the importance of greens to overall health for some time now but I have had yet to find a greens drink that doesn't make my stomach turn...this recipe actually looks like it might be the winner. Here's hoping!

  6. MMMMMMM,...what a boost of energy coming from this greeny drink!

    I love it so much & I love that you have made your own almond milk! That's great because it is ooh so expensive over here!

  7. I love this! and I have a box of almond milk if I'm not feeling quite as ambitious as you with your homemade milk. I was really distraught how they started irradiating almonds a while ago because of one e coli outbreak. I eat them every day as my snack food.