Healthy Kitchen Staples Part I: Green Smoothies (Plus How To Make The Perfect Smoothie Every Time)

We get it, as 20-something fake adults* that didn’t grow up in the kitchen either, home cooking can seem a bit intimidating, to say the least. And let’s be honest, scrambling to put together a somewhat edible, slightly healthy dinner with whole and nutritious ingredients—rather than, you know, microwavable pre-packaged, processed foods—can seem much too complicated. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be. Despite what anyone says (Food Network included), you don’t need a culinary degree, fancy cooking equipment, 10,000 hours, or an arsenal of healthy recipes up your sleeve in order to make food that’s both nutritious and Top Chef type good.

Enter the “non-chef” approach to home cooking.

Perfect for those with zero time, zero kitchen experience, and zero interest in the overly complicated. It’s fast food, only better, and infinitely times better for you. If you want to make your own meals but almost always opt for takeout, you, your wallet, and your waistline, are going to seriously appreciate this post. Correction, you’re going to seriously appreciate the next 3 posts.

Because everyone, including you, should be able to make a delicious meal, in less than 20 minutes, that actually leaves you feeling GOOD, not tired.

Enter your healthy kitchen staples:

As part of our Back To Basics series (click here to catch up), we’re dishing the 3 healthy kitchen staples every non-chef needs to know how to make. Consider these the fundamentals, the essentials, the tried and true staples everyone needs in their healthy recipe repertoire.

While they might seem incredibly simple and to be honest, almost predictable, they all have the power to change your life in unimaginably powerful ways.

Up first, the green smoothie.  

Simple, quick, delicious (obviously), and of course, beyond easy to create. Read: perfectly fit for the non-chef.

green smoothie

Why we love them:

Aside from being delicious, green smoothies are →

1. Incredibly Nutrient Dense.

You can pack a whole lot of nutrient dense plant-power into one 16 oz green smoothie.

2. Easy to digest.

Blending helps break down tough cell walls making greens’ full spectrum of nutrients readily available to the body.

3. Totally customizeable.

Don’t like kale? No problem. Sub it for something else. Green smoothies are super versatile like that.

4. Ridiculously easy to make.

Directions include: blend and drink.

5. Minimal cleanup.

Because that^ is of utmost importance.

6. Great for grab & go.  

It takes maybe 5 minutes to make a smoothie? Even less if you prep your ingredients beforehand.

Not to mention, green smoothies are totally kid, boyfriend, and picky-eater approved.

How to make the perfect green smoothie:

Helpful tips →

1. Use a high speed blender.

High powered blenders like the Vitamix are best for blending greens into a nice and smooth consistency. While they’re definitely an investment, they make the WORLD of a difference. If you don’t have a high powered blender, we recommend making your smoothie in batches and blending as you go.

2. Rotate your greens.

Use a variety of leafy greens in your smoothies to promote nutrient diversity and avoid toxic alkaloid buildup**. (See note below.)

3. Use a spoon.

Chew your smoothie. This promotes better digestion and nutrient absorption by stimulating your salivary glands and digestive enzymes. Plus, it’s way more enjoyable than guzzling down all that green goodness in 10 seconds flat.

4. Cool it.

Use ice, frozen greens, frozen nut-milk cubes, or at least one source of frozen fruit to chill your smoothie.

5. Experiment.

Embrace your inner alchemist and get creative in the kitchen. Find what combos work for you and up the amount of greens as you begin to incorporate these into your regular repertoire. Generally speaking, we suggest a 2:1 fruit to greens ratio if you’re newer to green smoothies. Ideally we want to work our way up to about 80% greens and 20% fruits.

6. Make more than one.

If you really want to save time, make multiple servings and store leftovers in the fridge for 3 days maximum. Mason jars and other air-tight containers work great for this.

7. Top it off.

Sprinkle granola on top of your smoothie for texture and crunch. Other great toppers include goji berries, fresh fruit, cacao nibs, chia seeds, mixed nuts, coconut flakes and bee pollen.

green smoothie ingredients.jpg

The ingredients:

Liquid // Water, coconut water, nut-milk, tea, etc. About 1 - 1 ½ cups per serving.

Greens //  Kale, spinach, collards, romaine, swiss chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, etc. 2 - 3 handfuls per serving. Also included in this category is herbs like mint, cilantro, parsley, basil, and green veggies like broccoli, cucumber and celery. Note: bitter greens like dandelion and arugula are much stronger in taste than mild greens like spinach and kale so we highly recommend using smaller amounts of these.

Fruits // Frozen, fresh or a combo of both. Bananas, berries, mangos, pears, dates, apples, oranges, cherries, pineapple, etc. About 2 small handfuls per serving.

Proteins // Plant-based protein powders, spirulina, nuts/seeds (which also contain healthy fats).

Healthy fats // Avocados, nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters and oils, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seed, coconut oil, coconut meat, coconut butter, etc.

Optional Additions →

Carbohydrates // Rolled oats, root veggies, sprouted buckwheat groats, etc.

Sweeteners // Try to avoid refined sugars. Opt for natural alternatives like medjool dates, stevia, raw honey (not vegan), etc., instead.  

Add-ins, Spices & Superfoods // Raw cacao, maca, lucuma, spirulina, chlorella, bee pollen, ashwagandha, etc., spices (cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, turmeric, etc.), and citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, etc.).

The formula:

For 1-2 servings, depending how hungry you are, use this simple formula (Increase amounts for multiple servings).

1-1½ cups liquid + 2-3 handfuls greens + 2 handfuls fruit + 1-2 parts protein + 1-2 parts healthy fat

The directions:

Throw everything into your blender, blend and enjoy. If you don’t have a high powered blender, blend the leafy greens and liquid first, then, add your fruits, proteins, fats, etc., and blend again. Add ice as needed.

Please remember, you do not, we repeat, do NOT, need to add in every single fruit/veggie/green you have in your refrigerator, that’s how disasters happen.

Pictured above is: 1 frozen banana, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 cup almond milk and a handful of spinach. 

Simple is delicious.

Check out our go-to green smoothie recipe here.

For more recipes for the non-chef and healthy eating tips check out Nourished By Nature, our 14-day guide to living whole, eating well, feeling amazing, and making plants taste really f*%king good.

Your turn. Show us your creations! Take a pic of your smoothie and tag us on instagram at @thedailyalchemy using the hashtag: #thedailyalchemy, so we can see and like your photo! Leave your feedback in the comment section below.

Life is good when food is good. And today, it’s really, really good.

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*Fake adult: Noun - One that “seems” to have their shit together but is most likely freaking out. Usually in their 20’s, newly transplanted into the so-called "real world".

**Greens are not toxic and generally speaking, you should consume them. Experts agree that adding more dark leafy greens to your diet is one of the best things you can do for you health. However, all leafy greens contain small amounts of alkaloids as well as other phytotoxins as a defense mechanism to protect themselves from predation. When you eat the same type of green in large quantities all the time, these alkaloids or toxic substances, can build up in the body leading to serious thyroid issues and other adverse side effects such as nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, depression, anxiety and kidney stones. While some individuals have no problem eating the same greens over and over, others are much more susceptible to high oxalate levels. (Genetic testing can be done to check how susceptible you are.) That said, don’t stress. In small quantities alkaloids have actually been shown to strengthen our immune systems. This is just something to be aware of and should not be a concern if you rotate your greens. We rotate our greens weekly, meaning, one week we buy spinach, on our next shopping trip, kale. Once you make the green smoothie habit a daily occurrence, rotate between two different leafy greens per week, or go back and forth. Again, this isn’t anything to worry about, we just like to give you all the facts.

***This post is part of our month long Back To Basics series. If you're just catching up:
1. Back to basics - An introduction
2. Food shopping made easy
3. Meal prep 101
4. Healthy eating IRL - An inside look at what we eat on a daily basis

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