I love using a large variety of green in my green smoothies. It’s important to rotate your use of greens because of the alkaloids they contain. But from a more mundane standpoint, I just like the variety of the different tastes and textures. At this time of year (December), kale is one of my favorite greens to use in my daily green smoothies.
Kale is a dark leafy green which is most widely used by caterers as a garnish for fruit trays and usually thrown away. What a waste! Kale is one of the super foods when it comes to vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants and other things that contribute to your overall health.
Where I live in southern Arizona, the nights are cold (near freezing) while the days are very moderate (65° F) during December. That’s perfect growing weather for kale and my garden now sports several varieties of kale. One variety is extremely dark green and curly. Another is curly but much lighter in color. Another is dark bluish green and not very curly at all. I rotate my use of these varieties kale with other cold-loving dark leafy greens from my garden like Swiss Chard, beet greens, broccoli greens and a few others.
Blended together with fruit, these dark leafy greens make for a delicious and healthy way to start your day. Plus, all the antioxidants help keep your immune system in tip-top shape during the prolific cold and flu season that is now upon us.
Even if you live in a cold climate and are experiencing snow, you can still harvest kale from under the snow as long as it has been established from late summer. If you didn’t plan ahead for that, make a note for doing that next August or September. When I lived in the Northern US, I would usually harvest kale from under the snow all the way through the winter.
If you don’t have a garden, you can still find fresh kale in most produce sections of grocery stores, and especially in health/organic food stores. Always try to buy organic kale whenever possible. Look for kale that is uniform in color throughout the bunch. Avoid anything that is clearly changing color around the edges or that is wilting. Kale is a hardy leafy green and takes a long time to wilt, so visible signs of wilting are a sure indicator that it has been sitting on the shelf for a long time. Once leafy greens start to go bad, the decomposition continues quite rapidly and can introduce unwanted toxins for your body to fend off. Don’t let that freak you out – just buy stuff that looks good and don’t be afraid to toss old greens once they start to turn bad.
Not only is kale good for your body with all of its health benefits, it tastes pretty good too. That doesn’t mean kale is not a mild green. It has a rather strong “green” taste and may bee too much if you are just beginning on green smoothies. If that’s the case, just start out with small additions of kale to your green smoothies until you develop a taste for it (you usually need to taste something new 7-10 times before you start developing a taste for it, so don’t give up to soon if it doesn’t suit you immediately).
Since kale is a tough leafy green with a lot of fiber, it is important to use a high powered blender like the Vitamix or Blendtec blenders. The Vitamix is my favorite, and will pulverize that kale down to the cellular level for easy digestion and no gas or bloating (which is a common complaint about kale – mainly because it is consumed without being fully chewed up.) Some people peel the dark leaves off the stem before adding kale to their smoothies. I prefer to add the stems too. Although the stems primarily add fiber, they also contain certain enzymes not found in the leaves which aid in digestion. Just make sure you have a heavy duty blender like a Vitamixbefore you try to use kale stems in your green smoothies.
The green smoothie combinations using kale are endless, but here is one of my favorite cold-busting, high-antioxidant green smoothie recipes for the Winter cold season: