The Essential Green Smoothie Recipe
A smoothie is supposed to be made by pureeing raw fruits and/or vegetables in a blender. Typically, there is a liquid base added such as yogurt, milk, or juice. Smoothies are an excellent way to get in extra vegetables and fruits, especially for those who have trouble chewing hard foods or who have difficulty opening and closing their mouth. People suffering with TMJ problems, jaw pain, TMJ headaches and TMJ pain may experience these hardships. Besides providing an abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, smoothies contain fiber from the raw foods, important for gut health.
There are Juice Bars and commercial smoothie brands that do not use 100 percent raw fruits and vegetables to make their smoothies. For example, on a recent visit to a Juice Bar, a green smoothie was advertised as containing kale, spinach, banana, honey, mixed berries, and coconut water. When I watched the counterperson make the smoothie, they added green juice instead of raw kale and spinach into the blender. Using the juice from the greens rather than the raw greens omits the beneficial fiber, which is important for blood sugar control and intestinal health. Besides, it's wasteful to toss out the pulp. A smoothie made with mostly juice is packed with sugar. In this case the sugar was coming from the juice, fruits, honey, and coconut water--way too sweet for me!
Most health benefits of smoothies come from the raw produce ingredients. Therefore, the next time you're buying a smoothie, ask if fresh/raw produce is being used before you make the purchase. Also consider how much of the raw produce is added compared to the rest of the ingredients.
From a nutritional point of view, there are more advantages to preparing smoothies based on vegetables instead of fruits. Most store-bought smoothies--even green ones--have more fruits than vegetables. Fruits are more caloric and contain more simple sugars compared to vegetables. The average raw vegetable is about 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate per cup, compared to fruit at about 60 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate per cup.
There are ways to making a smoothie both creamy and sweet while sticking to a mostly vegetable-based drink. One small banana, 1/2 cup of mango or 3 dates will do the job. Yogurt, cow milk or a plant-based milk also contributes to a creamy consistency. Using yogurt, cow milk or soy milk adds a boost of protein. That’s why there is no need to add powdered protein products, which are often highly processed. Frozen fruits can easily substitute for fresh fruits, and this will also add to its creamy texture. Using frozen fruit eliminates the need for ice since many people don't like beverages too cold, or too hot for that matter. For a healthy dose of good fats, consider the addition of 1/4 of an avocado, 1/4 cup walnuts, or 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed or nut butter.
A smoothie that is packed with raw greens is best served fresh from the blender. It tastes just as good as a fruit smoothie and has many more health benefits. All you need for a simple green smoothie is a blender, leafy green vegetables, a banana and yogurt or milk. The smoothie will taste sweet enough with just one fruit and you'll have the health benefits of the raw greens. One cup of raw spinach contains 7 calories. 0.86 grams of protein, 1.1 grams carbohydrate, 0.7 grams fiber, 30 milligrams of calcium, 167 milligrams of potassium, 56% of the daily value for vitamin A, 14% of the daily value for vitamin C, and 4.5% of the daily value for iron.
Green smoothies are perfect for hydration after a workout or can be enjoyed as a midday snack. They can also be shared with toddlers as part of a breakfast or snack. One of the best ways to help toddlers or older children eat more vegetables is by introducing them to green smoothies. Even though they look "very" green, the sweet flavor of the one fruit serving will hide the bitterness of the greens. Keep in mind though, that it's important for toddlers and children to eat whole foods. Too much sugary liquid can lead to early dental cavities and underdeveloped jaw muscles. In fact, there is a scientific theory that TMJ problems can occur from underused jaw muscles.
Use your creativity and experiment with different combinations of vegetables, fruits, and liquids. Consider adding spices like cinnamon or roots like ginger or turmeric.
Just remember that smoothies are not a replacement to eating fresh vegetables and fruits. Instead, smoothies should be thought of as a way to supplement a healthy Mediterranean diet. Smoothies will benefit those suffering with chronic jaw pain and other TMJ pain problems.
Essential Green Smoothie Recipe, Serves 2
Use organic ingredients when available:
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk or soy milk
- 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
- 1 fresh or frozen banana, sliced or 1 cup frozen mango chunks
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Enjoy immediately!
Nutrition Facts Per Serving using low-fat milk and one banana:120 calories
1.9 grams fat
94 mg sodium
21.6 grams carbohydrates
2.2 grams fiber
6.3 grams protein
159% daily value for vitamin D
16% daily value for calcium
5% daily value from iron
13% daily value for potassium