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8 Tips for Green Smoothies that Look Pretty and Taste Great

It’s day 30 of the April Green Smoothie Challenge. We made it! I’ll be posting a recap of the last week with an overview of the challenge later this week but for today’s post I wanted to give you my tips for making green smoothies that look pretty and taste great.

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Some of the complaints/struggles I hear regularly about green smoothies include:

– My green smoothie is always brown.
– My green smoothie tastes like nothing.
– All I taste is the green.
– My green smoothie is chunky.
– My green smoothie is too thick.

I haven’t always been a smoothie lover for many of the reasons listed above. I have definitely made my share of brown, tasteless smoothies but through tons of trial and error I have smoothie making down to a science. You might remember that I even won a smoothie challenge when I visited ALDI.

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Here are my tips for making amazing GREEN and DELICIOUS green smoothies!

1. Pick a theme and keep it simple. This is absolutely essential as step one. If you open the fridge/freezer and throw everything you have in the blender, chances are it’s going to either taste not great or like nothing. Think about what direction you want to go with your smoothie and choose ingredients based on that. For example, when I’m making a tropical green smoothie I’m going to use ingredients like banana, mango, pineapple and coconut milk. It would be weird to add things like blueberries and peanut butter. (Have you ever had a pina colada with peanut butter? That sounds gross.) On a related note, keep it simple. Some of the best smoothies I make have a short ingredient list. It’s just important that the flavors compliment each other.

2. Be cautious with adding berries to avoid the brown smoothie. Berries are the #1 cause of the brown smoothie. I really never use blackberries or raspberries in my smoothies (especially not blackberries because of the seeds) and I use strawberries sparingly. If I add them, it’s only 3-4 and I make sure to add lots of green to compensate for color. One exception here is blueberries, they make a pretty purple smoothie and I use them frequently, especially in my favorite PB&J smoothie.

3. Don’t add ice. I never add ice to my smoothies. I find that it really waters down the flavor and makes the texture too slushy like. If I do add ice, it’s just a few cubes. I prefer to use frozen fruit instead of ice. I also like that my smoothies are not so, so cold when I don’t use ice. I am really cold natured and usually have to drink hot tea with my smoothies to avoid freezing.

4. Add a natural sweetener. Make sure that there is something in your smoothie to sweeten it up a bit. My go-to choices are bananas and dates. Other options include lightly sweetened almond/coconut milk or honey and recently I’ve started using coconut water as a way to sweeten up my smoothies while adding good hydration benefits.

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5. Give it a little kick. I like to add something tart to balance out the sweet. I use plain Greek yogurt more than anything else (note, I usually avoid flavored yogurts due to the sugar content) but recently I’ve also enjoyed playing around with lemon juice, lime juice and ginger.

6. Keep the greens mild. The whole appeal of the green smoothie is that you don’t taste the green part…especially when you’re first getting started with them. My number one tip here is to use baby greens such as spinach, kale and chard. If you’re using something like full-sized kale, dandelion greens, beet greens, etc. go 50/50 with spinach. And whatever you do…don’t use arugula or spring mix. No beueno!

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7. Blend, blend, blend! Give your smoothie some time to do it’s thing in the blender to get it to the right consistency. Your smoothie needs to blend longer if you still see hunks of green and fruit. I start at a low speed and work my way up to a pretty high speed and let it go for about 1-2 minutes. I am frequently asked for blender suggestions. I received this Vitamix for Christmas and it is life changing but I also really, really like this Kitchen Aid blender as a lower cost alternative.

8. Give them some staying power. The biggest complaint I hear about smoothies for breakfast is that people are hungry right after having one. This is where protein powder, nut butters, dates, avocado, Greek yogurt, etc. come into play. Alternatively, you can leave these things out and have your green smoothie alongside your normal breakfast as a “green juice” kind of option. This is my favorite smoothie for that.

Let me know if you have any tips you’d like to add or questions.

Happy smoothie-ing! 

More green smoothie recipes and resources: 

My Base Green Smoothie Recipe
Seven Days of Green Smoothie Recap with Seven Recipes
Blueberry and Date Green Smoothie 
Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie
Tropical Green Smoothie
Glowing Green Ginger Power Smoothie
Banana-less Coconut Water Green Smoothie
Green Smoothie April Challenge Week 1
Green Smoothie April Challenge Week 2
Green Smoothie April Challenge Week 3

{ 20 comments… add one }

  • Shannon April 30, 2014, 12:29 pm

    These are really great tips, and my favorite one is NO ICE. I don’t like watering down all the goodies and nutrients in the smoothie! And the “staying power” is key too. Otherwise I could drink 5 smoothies for one meal!

    I always put frozen bananas in my smoothie to keep the texture PERFECT and to make it extra cold and creamy. And I always use almond milk to get everything moving and fully blended :)

    • Jen May 2, 2014, 10:42 am

      i never do the frozen banana thing! i always keep them out on the counter and just use all other frozen fruit. now that it’s getting warmer out i’ll have to try freezing my bananas for an extra-cold smoothie!

  • Jojo @ RunFastEatLots April 30, 2014, 12:54 pm

    I actually like ice in my smoothies because sometimes all the fruit makes it too sweet, like frozen bananas. I don’t add a lot, just enough to thicken it up a bit

    • Jen May 2, 2014, 10:43 am

      that’s why i usually add a little plain greek yogurt to cut the sweetness, especially if my bananas are pretty ripe!

  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun April 30, 2014, 1:43 pm

    Love smoothies I don’t make them NEAR enough! Thanks for the tips :)

  • Parita @ myinnershakti April 30, 2014, 2:18 pm

    I tend to go a little crazy when it comes to making green juice at home. I take whatever I can find and throw it in. The problem is that this method doesn’t make for a very tasty drink! Next time, I’m going to stick with your tip about simplicity and themes. I like the idea of creating a base recipe that tastes good and then adding a little something to kick up the flavor!

    • Jen May 2, 2014, 10:43 am

      haha! i know, it’s hard to control yourself sometimes. i do this with salads too and sometimes it’s just TOO much!

  • Polly @ Tasty Food Project April 30, 2014, 2:43 pm

    These are great tips! I usually add honey or cinnamon to sweeten my smoothie!

  • She Rocks Fitness April 30, 2014, 5:14 pm

    AWESOME tips as always! I have yet to try adding ginger to my smoothies, but definitely intrigued to give it a go. I’ve been craving salads and green smoothies with these gorgeous warmer temperatures in Houston. Happy Hump Day!

    • Jen May 2, 2014, 10:45 am

      you must try the ginger. you will love!

  • Amanda April 30, 2014, 7:05 pm

    Hi Jen!
    Thanks for the smoothie tips! As we move into summer I know that I will be craving more smoothies, and I would love to up my game! Do you have any tips on protein powders?

  • Jenn@Mark My Miles! May 1, 2014, 7:09 am

    Awesome tips. I have always added ice and now I plan to leave it out! thank you!

  • Kim May 1, 2014, 11:40 am

    I tried your PB&J smoothie for the first time. It is DELISH!! I added some spinach in to increase by greens intake for the day. My husband and son gave it two thumbs up as well. I’m going to take your advice and simplify my ingredients moving forward. Thanks for sharing, Jen!

    • Jen May 2, 2014, 10:46 am

      yes! i add spinach to that smoothie all the time. so good!

  • Naomi May 1, 2014, 1:38 pm

    I use milk, greek vanilla yogurt, lots of spinach and kale (about 50/50), spoonful of almond butter, mixed frozen tropical fruit, frozen blueberries, a frozen banana, and a tiny scoop of frozen oj concentrate in my green smoothies. I like to make sure that I add the milk and yogurt first with the spinach, kale and almond butter to mix and make sure it all gets blended up well. Although I don’t usually have a problem with finding chunks when drinking, I find I don’t mind a chunk of fruit but really don’t like when I have a chunk of spinach or kale that hasn’t been blended into the mix well. That’s why I like to do it with only the milk and yogurt prior to adding the frozen fruit since it’s harder to blend once you add the frozen fruit. I add the almond butter during that step for the same reason, to make sure the thick, sticky almond butter mess is blended in well.

    • Jen May 2, 2014, 10:47 am

      naomi – i like the idea of the OJ concentrate. i have never thought of that before.

  • Elaine May 2, 2014, 8:39 am

    I love green smoothies, but I think brown smoothies are pretty good too! :)

    Whenever I make them, I start off by putting all my greens in first and then adding whatever liquid I’m using and let that blend up a bit before adding in my fruit. That way I start out with a nice green liquid base. My liquid of choice is usually orange-mango juice (100% juice) so I don’t tend to have a problem with mine not having flavor or being sweet enough!

    • Jen May 2, 2014, 10:47 am

      they are but not good for photographs! (blogger problem!)

      i like your suggestion of blending the greens first and using a little juice to sweeten/flavor it up!

  • Tina@GottaRunNow May 4, 2014, 5:04 pm

    Great tips! My favorite smoothie ingredient is frozen banana pieces to make the smoothie thick and sweet.

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