When most of us make green smoothies, we reach for spinach, kale, romaine lettuce and collard greens. But there are some overlooked greens that often get tossed without a second though, yet are delicious and nutritious in a green smoothie recipe. So next time you’re out of kale, or you want to add some leafy variety, look for these overlooked greens.
If you buy organic strawberries (and you should since they tend to be high in pesticide residues), then go ahead and leave the green tops on. The greens are just as edible and they provide vitamins and minerals just like any other leafy green! Adding seven or eight strawberries with tops to your smoothie isn’t going to add a significant source of extra nutrients from the green tops alone, but there isn’t any reason to toss them unless the berries are not organic.
Okay, these greens are controversial. While many people eat raw carrot greens and even juice them, there is a nagging rumor out there that they are toxic. Yes, toxic! But you’ll have a hard time finding any hard evidence to support the rumor. And you’ll find plenty of first-hand accounts of people who eat both raw and cooked carrot tops in soups, salads, and juices, and who are alive and well.
So I guess it’s up to you if you want to throw in a sprig or two of carrot greens in your smoothie. If you do, I’d only use organic, since conventional carrot greens are said to be super high in pesticide residues (which may very well account for their alleged toxicity). And I wouldn’t eat them every day. I’ve never heard of anybody having any ill effects from eating raw or cooked carrot tops, and I’ve never had a problem either.
If you are like me, you might be a little wary about tossing radish greens in your smoothie. I’m not a big fan of radishes I guess I always assumed the leaves would have that same funky bite that the bulb has. When I finally worked up the courage to try them, I discovered how wrong I was.
Radish greens are tasty and not that bitter. They have a very mild flavor that is easily masked by fruit in a green smoothie. They are also loaded with minerals like calcium and iron. For more information on these tasty little greens, check out my article on how to use radish greens in a green smoothie.
Before I got into green smoothies, I always thought of celery stalks as something to put peanut butter on. And I’d always throw out the small, leafy stalks in the center because I thought they were “useless”. I mean, you can’t smear peanut butter on a leaf so into the trash they went!
Well, not anymore. The inner stalks and leaves of celery go into my blender with other greens since they are nutritious just like the outer stalks. They provide a good source of vitamins and minerals without an overpowering celery flavor.
Next time you buy fresh beets, go for the ones with the greens still attached. Beet greens have a mild flavor that is easily masked with fruit in a green smoothie. It tastes somewhat like spinach and chard, although it is closer to spinach in flavor. I prefer it to chard. You can use it interchangeably with spinach in smoothie recipes though. To find out more about their nutritional value check out my article on beet greens.
Parsley is not just a garnish! It’s one of my favorite greens. Parsley is loaded with iron. Just one cup of parsley has 3.7 milligrams of iron. Parsley is easily masked by pineapple. One of my favorite green smoothies is 2 bananas, 1 cup pineapple, 2 stalks celery, 1 cup parsley, 2 cups dandelion greens and 8 ounces of almond milk or filtered water. To find out more about the nutritional value of parsley, check out my article on how to use parsley in a green smoothie recipe.
Green smoothies are great for using up leftovers, or for those spare parts of vegetables that you just don’t know what to do with. Experiment and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Read about more leafy greens for green smoothies.
Tracy Russell is the creator of RESET 28: A 28-Day Program For Energy, Weight Loss & A Healthy Glow, and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She has been helping people take control of their health and well being with green smoothies, a whole foods diet, and fitness since 2009.