Pictured recipe: Berry-Banana Cauliflower Smoothie
Vegetable smoothies are a healthy way to start eating more vegetables (and fruit)—two things most of us need more of in our diets. Go beyond kale with unexpected vegetables like beets, cucumber or cauliflower. Try frozen vegetables or fresh vegetables. Trust us, you'll hardly notice them in the glass when your smoothie is blended up with fruit too. Here's a guide to making healthy vegetable smoothies including the best and worst vegetables to use. And, find out if they're good for weight loss and how to get picky eaters on board.
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Pictured recipe: Carrot Cake Smoothie
Green smoothies are the most popular vegetable smoothies. Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are fantastic for smoothies because they incorporate easily and can be disguised by whatever fruit you choose. To keep those chopped bits of greens from sticking to the blender's sides and lid, try blending the greens with liquid first, then adding the remaining ingredients.
Vegetables with a high water content (fresh zucchini, cucumber and bell pepper) also blend well.
For heartier veggies like carrots, beets and cauliflower, gently steam them ahead of time. You can also buy flash-steamed frozen vegetables. The frozen veggies will make your smoothie extra cold.
A general rule of thumb: Stick to vegetables with neutral or naturally sweet flavors. That way they don't overpower any naturally sweet fruit you have in the mix.
Vegetables to Try:
Not every vegetable is a good fit for a smoothie. Hard vegetables like raw sweet potatoes won't break down. They may also overheat your blender in the process.
Avoid strong-flavored vegetables like peppery radishes, raw broccoli, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. Bitter leafy greens like arugula and collards aren't recommended either (even though their green cousins, spinach and kale, are great choices).
Fibrous vegetables like snap peas can be too stringy and bland. Celery could fall into this category too, but if your blender is powerful enough, it can make quick work of breaking down those strands.
Skip most canned vegetables altogether; they lack the texture and freshness smoothies need. Canned pumpkin is an exception.
Try These: Healthy Smoothie Recipes
Pictured recipe: Pineapple-Grapefruit Detox Smoothie
1. Prepare your ingredients, making sure you cook vegetables like sweet potato and cauliflower, and then chill them so they won't be hot in the blender.
2. Most blenders recommend adding liquid first, then the rest of your ingredients. High-speed blenders should have no problem whipping up vegetables. If you have a blender that struggles, try to blend your ingredients in stages, so every element has space and time to break down and incorporate. Start with your liquid and vegetables (this lubricates the machine's blades), then add your fruit and blend again.
3. Start at a low speed and gradually increase as you go. Once everything looks incorporated, blend for at least a full minute until very smooth. If the smoothie is too thick, you can add a bit more liquid, such as coconut milk beverage, milk or orange juice, to make it sippable and smooth.
Read More: How to Make Epic Smoothies at Home
For kids and picky eaters who tend to avoid vegetables on the plate, smoothies are a great option. Fruit covers up the veg flavor, with no extra sugar needed.
Volume-wise, you can easily sneak about half a serving of vegetables into a glass. Most of our vegetable smoothies call for 1 cup of greens. For other vegetables, you can usually add 1/2 cup, and in some cases 1 cup. Try pairing fruits and vegetables of similar colors for vibrant, monochromatic smoothies: beets with berries, mango with carrot, and green grapes with spinach. The similar hues also make the veg even less noticeable.
Related: The Ultimate Green Smoothie Recipe
Pictured recipe: Jason Mraz's Avocado Green Smoothie
Vegetable smoothies are chock-full of nutrients, hydrate you and are easy to digest—all great for reducing inflammation and shedding pounds. They're also very filling, and the fiber content from vegetable smoothies can help keep hunger pangs away between meals. Fiber helps fill you up. Unlike juicing vegetables, which gets rid of much of the fiber, adding them to smoothies keeps the fiber intact.
We love vegetable smoothies at breakfast to front-load the day with vegetables, or as an energy-boosting snack. If you plan to replace a meal with a vegetable smoothie, try adding protein, like silken tofu or Greek yogurt, and good-for-you fats, like avocado, nut butters and coconut oil.
Vegetable smoothies on their own may not fill you up, even when they have fiber, protein and fat. Drinking meals isn't always as satisfying as eating them. If that's the case for you, you can use less liquid and "eat" your smoothie as a smoothie bowl. You can also serve your smoothie with a small side, like one piece of whole-grain toast with peanut butter.
Round out the rest of your day with healthy sources of fiber, protein and other nutrients. Just be sure to account for calories in your smoothies. Despite their healthful components, they can make it easy to go a little overboard with portions. Measure your ingredients before adding them to the blender if you're counting calories closely, or follow one of our healthy vegetable smoothie recipes and you'll know how much to use.
Try These: Healthy Green Smoothie Recipes
Pictured recipe: Clean Breeze Smoothie
The easiest way to make vegetable smoothies part of your routine is to have the ingredients on hand. When steaming vegetables for dinner, make an extra batch and freeze it for blending. Shop the frozen aisle to stock up on easy-blend veggies like steamed butternut squash and riced cauliflower. If baby spinach is on sale, stash an extra bag in your freezer just for smoothies.
Save yourself time in the morning and get ahead by freezing measured fruits and vegetables in zip-top bags. Label each bag with the "flavor," and you can blend up a smoothie anytime with no additional prep.