Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Green Smoothie

Spring is here, hurray! Spring is a time of change, a time to detox, and a time for greens. How fitting that after a long season of warming dense foods one of the only fresh things available at this time (if we just reverted back to the pre-industrial era) are bitter greens.

Bitter greens contain compounds that help the liver with its multitude of functions. If you are curious, the liver is the second largest organ in the human body and performs over 500 different jobs! We need to take care of our livers. We breathe, ingest, and absorb toxic compounds daily. In addition, our bodies produce poisonous compounds during normal biochemical reactions. It is the liver who is responsible for filtering the blood to remove these toxins and excess hormones. The liver then changes the chemical structure of those toxins to make them water soluble so that they can be excreted in the urine.

Did you know that many of the most dangerous toxins are fat soluble? Unless these compounds are detoxified they are more likely to lodge in your cells and remain there causing damage. This is why a diet high in animal products, organic or not, dramatically increases your intake of toxic compounds. (Organic and sustainably raised animal products have less toxic compounds stored in their bodies, but it isn't possible to get away from them completely). By supporting your liver with certain foods, you can detoxify and dramatically increase your energy and quality of life!

Now, what foods support the liver? We are looking for foods that contain nutrients to produce and activate enzymes involved in the various phases of detoxification. So what are they?
  • Sulfur-containing foods such as onions, garlic, and legumes are a good start.
  • Cabbage family vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage are very important.
  • Foods high in water-soluble fiber such as pears, apples, and oatmeal are fairly easy to consume on a regular basis.

  • Certain spices even help such as turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice root. Hmmm, you see why we eat a lot of curry!
  • And lastly, greens, glorious greens! All green foods are particularly important in liver health.
Let's look at a few greens that are available right now. Dandelion greens, sorrel, baby kale, collard greens, and wild mustard. Other greens that I recently bought at the Farmer's Market include arugula, spinach, mizuna, tat soi, and sunflower spouts.
All of these wonderful fresh, raw greens can be blended into a delicious-tasting smoothie! This is such an easy way for you and your children to get a healthy dose of green foods into your daily diet.

Fresh nettles can also be harvested and added to smoothies (you can add them raw - don't need to cook them).

This morning we picked 2 types of kale, collard greens, sorrel, and mint for our breakfast smoothie. Below is the recipe we made today. Everyday is different depending on what is available. Soon the local fruits from last season will be gone and we will change up our smoothies a bit to adjust before this season's fruit begins to come in.

Tip: pears, peaches, apples, and plums freeze quite well for smoothie making. In the fall, core and quarter your fruit and place them on cookie sheets in your freezer. Transfer them to large containers and store in the freezer (I have a large one in our garage for fruit).

Spring Green Smoothie

I use a Vitamix for this, but if you have a smaller blender then cut this recipe in half. 

2 ripe pears, cored
2 apples, cored
2 kiwis
1 very large chunk of fresh ginger
2 lemons, juiced

Blend the fruit mixture until smooth and creamy.

Then stuff in as many greens as can fit into the vitamix and blend again, adding more greens as the previous ones have blended. Use whatever greens please you. I used the entire cutting board full of greens today....sorrel, kale, collards, and mint (pictured above).

Today I poured out the blended fruit into a large bowl and then blended the greens separately with water. I then poured the green mix into the fruit mix and used a large spoon to mix it all together. This way we could make a very large batch of smoothie. Source:

Do you have any other suggestions for spring greens that can be added to a smoothie. Anything you harvest or grow? Let's share so we can all get more ideas!

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. What a timely post... for me anyway. I am coaching a three-day green smoothie cleanse that starts on Sunday. I have lots more info on the goodness of greens here:

  2. Great! Thanks for the green smoothie refresher, I need to start making these again.


  3. You can take 3 oranges, 20 frozen blueberries, 10 soaked almonds, 2 ripe bananas and 4 to 5 handfuls of baby spinach to prepare delicious and healthy green smoothie.


  4. This is probably a silly question, but do you peel the kiwi first? Assuming they're organic, I often eat the peels when I 'm snacking on kiwis whole . . . I usually just discard the nubs at the ends.

  5. I am jealous you have all those greens growing in your back yard!!! Send some to me please?!
    LOVE green smoothies :)

  6. I need to start making more of these! I love the cabbage/lemon/cranberry recipe in the book. Yum!

    Do you ever make a bunch and freeze them? Just wondering what you think of that...or is it better to have them totally fresh?


    ps - i love this blog by the way. thanks for all your work on it!

  7. My mom and I were just picking greens from her garden and discussing if they would work in a smoothie like spinach does! I guess you answered the question!

  8. Love the pic of the green smoothie - YUM!!!


  9. Your smoothies look so beautiful, Ali. Thanks for this recipe! I really want to try it, so I'll add pears and kiwis to my grocery list.


  10. I always learn so much reading your blog and book. I wish I could walk outside to a garden. The only sunny spot is our front yard and the HOA would freak. Waiting for my CSA to start. I'm adding these items to my grocery list for tomorrow. Quick question about freezing fruit. I've always done it very simple like you did but I've read where sugar or other things need to be added. Are they just trying to make me fat?

  11. I am envious that you have greens already. It is too cold here still to plant. Thanks for the ideas for smoothies. I have never used sorell before so will keep an eye out for it. I like you minty smoothie from your cookbook, we make that quite often.

  12. Thanks for your comments! CV - I peel the kiwis just out of habit but no, it is not necessary.

    Allison - I don't freeze the smoothies, I guess I prefer them fresh. I suppose I could make green smoothie popsicles for the kids though?! :)

    Diane - No, you don't have to add sugar to fruit to freeze it, I have always done it sugar-free and it works quite well.

    Sorry I don't have time to individually respond to all of your comments anymore, I am just too busy at the moment, but I love reading them!

  13. I was surprised to see no mention of lettuces. I usually throw in a handful or two of mixed local greens into my smoothies along with a few of the other greens you mentioned.

    Thanks, I am addicted to your blog by the way and love your cookbook!
    Jill in CA

  14. I'm glad you shared this on Friday Foodie Fix. I really need to make this. Shirley raves about it.

  15. I used to walk dogs in the Texas summer and green smoothies kept me going! I often juiced green veggies - spinach, celery, cucumber - and added those. The smoothies kept me hydrated and going full speed. Great recipe!

  16. Does anyone make their green smoothies the night before? I want to have them for breakfast but with mornings being such a rush thought it might be easier if I made a batch the night before and just kept it in the blender in the fridge.

  17. Anonymours--Often after I have my morning smoothie, I place the half-full blender in the fridge and have the second one later or the next day. I have a half-full blender of smoothies in the refrigerator right now and will be grateful in the morning. :-) So you absolutely can make them the night before.


  18. Thanks Shirley for answering this question! The lemon juice in the smoothie also helps keep the fruit from oxidizing, meaning it will stay bright green and fresh for the second day! :)

  19. Hi, thanks so much for this blog - wonderful! I met Tom at the IFM GI symposium last month - great lunch talk! My question is about mixing fruits and veggies together in the green smoothie. I've heard that ideally you should eat fruits separately from other foods, particularly proteins, but also veggies. have you heard this before, and if so do you know what the rationnale behind it is?

    Thanks - keep up the great work!


  20. I too love green smoothies but have been scared off recently by a lot of reading regarding thyroid depressing effects of raw veggies, like kale and chard, which were my favorite go-to for my smoothie. I was also reading about something in spinach that was bad raw, I can’t remember now. I have severe adrenal issues and was a bit scared off. Have you read anything about this?

    I did start cooking a whole batch of greens, I mean a huge batch and then freeze them in smaller pieces. I thought the taste would be off, but it wasn’t.

    Any thoughts?

    I just found your blog and couldn't be more thrilled! Thank you

  21. LOVE Green Smoothies! I drink them every day sometimes 3 or 4 times a day.

    I have not gone on a detox but I do add parsley,cabbage and celery to my smoothies.

    Come see our forum and, recipes and videos at Feel free to post this with links back here at

  22. You don't mention why you use ginger in your smoothies but somewhere I read that ginger is good for the liver that right? If not, why the ginger?

  23. Amazing Smoothie! How bout one with sugar snap peas, pears, and ginger. Sure to give a bit of zest to a dull day!

  24. Other greens that I like to use are the grasses (wheat, barley, rye), a small amount of carrot tops, chard, a small amount of basil & other fresh herbs, fennel & dill greens.

  25. Here is my fav green smoothie:
    1/2 peeled lime
    whole peeled ruby red GF
    whole cored gala apple
    stuff the Vita-Mix with Kale leaves
    add frozen banana/and mango, peach or strawberries

    Blend on high until homogeneous

    Stop and add tbls raw honey
    add 4 tbls bee pollen
    add 4 tbls maca powder
    add scoop of hemp hearts
    add 4 tbls flax oil (some times I'll use olive or coconut as well for different flavor)
    add water to blend to a desired viscosity

    This a great smoothie in terms of filling a family of four - the recipe as I wrote will make about a 32 oz. This is highly alkalizing and really boosts the immune system.


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