The perfectly balanced green smoothie

Real Food Recipes

I like to think of green smoothies as the lazy person’s salad. They are easy to make, help me get my day’s helping of fruits and veggies, and, most importantly, they make it easier for my body to digest the nutrients from the produce in the smoothie.

There are an absolute ton of green smoothie recipes out there, and I thoroughly enjoy reading through them all. Heck, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to them! But I always tailor them to follow a specific formula, that of the perfectly balanced green smoothie.

The perfectly balanced green smoothie has four requirements:

  1. A minimum 1:1 greens to anything else ratio
  2. Healthy fats
  3. Vitamin C
  4. Protein

Too many people slurp down green smoothies loaded with sugary fruits, bananas, and sweetened nonfat yogurt thinking they are helping their bodies. But the fact is, this is a sure recipe for increased blood sugar levels and, later, a sugar crash, which will leave you hungrier and craving sugar more so than before. To avoid this, make sure you have at least a 2:1 ratio of greens to anything else in your smoothie (not including water or ice). It is supposed to be a “green smoothie” after all, not a fruit smoothie with a few pieces of spinach or kale.

Now that that is settled, let’s talk about fat. That’s right, I’m suggesting you put fat in your smoothie. Here’s why: the fat helps you body absorb all of the nutrients from the fruits and vegetables in the smoothie. According to Purdue University food science professor Mario Ferruzzi:

“If you want to utilize more from your fruits and vegetables, you have to pair them correctly with fat-based dressings. If you have a salad with a fat-free dressing, there is a reduction in calories, but you lose some of the benefits of the vegetables.”

For this reason, I add a tablespoon of coconut oil to my daily green smoothie (about 16 oz). In addition to amping up the fruits and veggies, the health benefits of coconut oil are vast, including regulating blood-sugar, negating the effects of free-radicals, boosting energy and metabolism, and curbing cravings. Plus, the coconut oil gives the smoothie a slightly tropical taste. Fun fact: I sometimes like to close my eyes and pretend I’m in the Caribbean while I’m actuality just on the bus to work. Oh to dream…

perfectly balanced green smoothie

On to vitamin C. In addition to being an awesome antioxidant that by its own right deserves a place in my green smoothie, vitamin C helps make plant-based iron more absorbable, converting it into a form similar to that found in fish and red meat. While I am an omnivore, I do not eat a lot of meat and rely on leafy greens to help me get the necessary amount of iron in my diet. Iron is necessary to transport oxygen throughout the body as well as for muscle and brain function. Great sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, and red bell pepper.

Last but not least, protein. The perfectly balanced green smoothie requires protein for added sustenance and to keep blood sugar from spiking, which commonly occurs as fruit sugars break down (this is the main argument people make against smoothies). My personal favorite smoothie protein is raw shelled hemp hearts. Just three tablespoons provide 10g of protein. Hemp hearts are also a great source of healthy fats, so can be used to satisfy both the fat and protein requirements of the perfectly balanced green smoothie.


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  1. You said 1:1 greens to smoothie in the ingredients list, then 2:1 in the body — which is it? I love these ideas and will try them now! Thanks, Nadia!

  2. How do you feel about using flax seed oil (omega-3!) instead of coconut oil? Does that qualify as a “fat”? That’s what I’ve been using in my smoothies – I am new to the smoothie world! 🙂

  3. hempt oil and kefir + spinach, turmeric and black pepper ( increases absorption of turmeric) +/- berries =heaven

  4. Hey, I’ve just read this and used the 2/1 or more ratio of greens to other ingredients. I have had a toothache from a food item I’d accidently eaten that I was allergic to this morning. After having a simple smoothie of half greens and half fat, fruits, and a (chia, flax, coconut, + cocoa powder mix), my toothache subsided into nothing within twenty-thirty minutes and I felt my whole self (physically and mentally) feel better and more alive! Also I usually feel funny before and after meals as I have a mild case of low-blood sugar, but all of that went away after this smoothie 🙂 I love the half and half ratio and how much protein I get from green vegetables, (since proper protein brings blood sugars to the right balance). I am in love with raw and green! 😀
    I believe that with smoothies, salads, as well as raw fats I will soon be free of my blood sugar problems ,which were brought on by unhealthy foods, and that I’ll experience a much fuller and much more substantial lifestyle in every way!!! Hope more people experience the success in health I am experiencing 🙂

  5. I have the same concern as Alina ~ when I add coconut oil (whether in oil state or solid) it tends to not blend well if it’s solid, or turns into chunks when it’s oil (because it cools off after you warm it into oil). I haven’t been able to find an organic coconut oil that is actually liquid. Do you know of any? I really want to be able to use my coconut “oil”.

  6. Do you have any other suggestions for fat besides coconut oil? I made a big blender of green smoothie to drink over the next few days but if I put coconut oil in it, it will get really hard in the fridge! So I’m trying to figure out something else that will work. Or should I just leave it as is and make sure I eat something with fat in it when I drink my smoothie? 🙂

  7. ps – am so with you on some of the green smoothie recipes – the ones that get green by adding some powder like supergreens or spirulina and the rest is not green and usually fruit!

  8. thank you nadia. sums it up beautifully. I was all the way there except for the protein. I’d heard about hemp seeds before but not taken it in. I’ve been using avocados for my fat. so coconut oil is a good addition. thanks for sharing.