Having a hard time getting the leafy greens in your toddler’s daily diet? A green shake might just be the answer. It’s the perfect quick breakfast – you can whip one up in under 5 minutes. Before you balk at the thought of chugging down a salad in a glass, read on to learn about all the tasty and vitamin packed ingredients.
In our house we feel our best when we start our day with a green shake. (I’ve heard it’s how the Incredible Hulk starts his day too!) We prefer shakes over juicing because the soluble fiber is helpful for absorption of nutrients, blood sugar regulation and for regularity. Check out this article for more details about how fiber affects your body. The benefits of green shakes are endless. A shake a day keeps you regular without effort. It is packed with protein for steadying your blood sugar, vitamins and minerals and a touch of fruit for an extra energy boost. The best part is that I don’t have to battle my toddler to eat healthy foods; She actually asks for a green shake and is excited to help me make it.
The ingredients are simple and easy to acquire. I buy organic when I can find it, especially for produce’s “Dirty Dozen” that carry the highest level of pesticides. Ingredients can vary depending on what you have in your fridge and include spinach, beet leaves, Swiss chard, turnip greens, dandelion greens, berries, hemp seeds or soaked chia seeds, a banana and cold water.
Get Your Greens! Recipe:
- 1 Ripe Banana
- 2-3 Cups (well packed) Spinach
- 6-8 Leaves of Dandelion, Beet, or Turnip Greens
- 3-4 Leaves of Swiss Chard
- 1/2 -1 1/2 Cup Frozen Berries (I use mixture of Strawberry, Blueberry and Blackberry)
- 2 TBS Hemp Seeds or Chia Seeds soaked in 2 Cups Water Overnight
- 1/2-2 Cups Cold Water
Blend all ingredients until smooth. I start with smaller quantities of frozen berries and add more as needed for sweetness, depending on the ripeness of the banana, and what greens are used in the shake. Sometimes this results in a shake that is more purple than green. Also start with less water, adding more as needed to reach preferred drinking consistency. Recipe makes approximately 2 1/2 to 3 servings.
A Word About Kitchen Equipment
The right blender will make or break the drink-ability or consistency of your shake. Originally I used the NutriBullet for my green shakes, however, after a thorough cleaning I found the seal was extremely difficult to remove, clean and reassemble. I noticed that there was some mold that was growing that couldn’t be scrubbed, bleached or otherwise removed (yuck, i know!). I messaged the company asking how to buy replacement seals and was told I needed to buy a whole new blade assembly. Um, if I can’t clean it, why do I want to buy another product from you that is going to grow mold??!!? So, I did my research and found a new blender, with glass pitcher and assembly that could be completely disassembled and cleaned with ease. I found the Oster Pro 1200. It is fabulous, a tad bit loud, but otherwise just fabulous.
Green Shake Nutrition Info
I’ve found the ANDI scores of most foods to be a helpful general guide to buying and incorporating the most nutrient dense foods into my family’s daily diet. ANDI stands for aggregate nutrient density index, and was created by Dr. Fuhrman. Basically, the higher the ANDI number the more nutrients per serving. Dr. Furhman’s theory is that your health is predicted by your nutrient intake divided by your calorie intake. His formula for scoring foods takes many variables into account, you can read more about it here.
Hemp seeds have a concentrated balance of proteins, omega 3 & 6 and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLAs). Hemp seeds are renowned for providing sustained energy, possibly lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. I store them in the fridge and use them raw. Hemp seeds can found at most grocery, health food stores and Costco.
Chia Seeds have a whole different list of benefits to offer. Once a key staple of the Aztecs and the Mayans, these pack a huge vitamin load, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, B vitamins, zinc, fiber, omega 3 and protein. There is some discussion about chia seeds containing a concentrated amount of phytate, an anti-nutrient which binds many minerals making them unavailable for absorption. For this reason I only use them on occasion. Everything in moderation as the saying goes. I store these in the fridge dry and soak a serving in cold water the night prior to using them. Chia seeds can be found a most grocery, health food stores and Costco.
Dandelion Greens pack a powerful punch too. I am particularly fond of Dandelions, as they were the first flower my daughter learned to pick and smell and the first flower she gave me. You can find them growing freely in our grass and garden beds. A part of the Sunflower family, they have a rich history in folk herbal medicine. They pack over 500% RDV of Vitamin K, an important bone builder, and is also documented to limit neuron damage in the brain. They are also high in vitamin A (carotenoid), C, B6, calcium, iron, potassium, folate, magnesium and flavonoids. Dandelion greens are said to be a blood purifier and aid in settling digestion, regulating liver function and normalizing blood sugar levels. All parts of the Dandelion are edible. The ANDI score for Dandelion greens is around 347. Dandelion greens can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores. Alternately, you can grow them in organic dirt in your backyard and pick the leaves just before the flower blooms.
The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgement -author unknown
Turnip greens are another ingredient that scores the highest (1000) on the ANDI scale. It is considered a cruciferous vegetable. They are a good source of Omega 3 and 6, vitamin K, A, C, folate, calcium, copper, manganese. Turnips with greens can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores. Alternately, you can grow them in organic dirt in your backyard and pick the leaves throughout the growing season.
What is the best way to buy beets at the grocery store? With the tops on of course! Buying with the tops still intact ensures they are the freshest and provide a source of nutrient dense greens for the price of the beets – twice the bang for your buck! Beet greens supply about 2g protein, and are high in vitamin A, C, K, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.
Swiss Chard claims health benefits ranging from helping to regulate blood sugar levels to improving digestion, lowering blood pressure, increasing bone strength and preventing various types of cancer. The first documented use of chard in cooking was in Sicily. Rich in vitamins K, C, E, B6, and minerals including magnesium, potassium, iron, and copper. The ANDI score for chard is 1000. Chard can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores. Alternately, you can grow chard in organic dirt in your backyard and pick leaves as needed.
Frozen strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are high in antioxidants and vitamins as well. They score 182, 132 and 111, respectively on the ANDI scale. Frozen berries can be found in the freezer isle of the grocery store or Costco.
Bananas are a good source of potassium, B-6, Magnesium and about 1.3g of protein. The banana is optional, but does lend a smooth quality as well as a bit of sweetness to the shake.
How Do You Get Your Greens In Each Day?
Our family tends to feel best when we start or finish the day with a green shake. Try starting your day with a heaping serving of micro-nutrients. Get your greens and let me know what you think in the comments below!