Some greens are more bitter than others. While fresh baby spinach has a delicate flavor that is easily masked by just about any fruit, other greens such as kale and dandelion are difficult to mask in a smoothie. Kale and dandelion are also much more nutritious than spinach, providing more than double the calcium and protein per cup.
Instead of holding your nose and chugging a kale/dandelion smoothie, you can use the following tips to include these green superfoods into your next smoothie without tasting them.
Hiding The Bitter Flavor Of Greens With Fruit
An apple-spinach green smoothie will taste like apple. A kale-apple smoothie will taste like kale. An apple-dandelion smoothie will be difficult to drink!
When working with bitter greens, use only the most flavorful, sweet fruit. The best two to use are pineapple and ripe banana. Pineapple helps boost the fruitiness of the smoothie while banana has a moderating effect on bitter flavors. Use both pineapple and banana together with dandelion greens for a super nutritious green smoothie that you will actually want to drink.
Berries are also a great way to mask bitter greens. Fresh, ripe strawberries are the best to use because they are bursting with rich flavor. You can also try raspberries and blueberries as well.
If you find that you can still taste the greens, add and extra 1/2 banana at a time to the smoothie until you are satisfied.
Flavor Modifications For Bitter Green Smoothies
There are some things you can do to further hide the flavor of bitter greens in a smoothie. Besides using pineapple and banana, you can add cacao (raw chocolate) powder to help moderate the flavor further. Vanilla bean (or extract) is also a great way to modify the flavor and mask unpleasant greens.
Flavored protein powders are also an option. Not only will you get an extra dose of protein, but you can find them in chocolate, vanilla or berry flavors. I recommend using hemp or rice protein powder.
An Acquired Taste
When I make a green smoothie for someone who has never had one before, I always use baby spinach. Most people would be turned off by a green smoothie made with kale or dandelion at first. I would have been if I used them in my first smoothie. After drinking green smoothies over time, I noticed that my tastes changed and bitter greens were less and less noticeable in my smoothies.
It can take a little time to acclimate to the flavor of nutritious food if you are not used to it. I remember when I first started purchasing organic cereals and granola bars years ago. They tasted bland to me at first. There was a noticeable difference in sweetness and flavor. I kept eating organic foods however, because I was committed to my health. After a couple months, I tried the non-organic cereal and granola bars I had eaten all along and they were no longer appetizing! All I could taste was the high-fructose corn syrup and processed flavor! The organic foods tasted much better.
Greens work the same way. Dandelion might taste too bitter to you now, but after eating it for a while, you’ll notice that you won’t mind the flavor and will actually enjoy it.
Build Up To Bitter Greens
Instead of packing your blender half full with dandelion or kale, try adding one handful of bitter greens with one handful of spinach and slowly increase the ratio over time. I’ve been drinking green smoothies for almost two years and even I can’t pack my blender full of kale. Instead, I might use one cup of kale and one cup of baby spinach and use extra-flavorful, ripe fruit.
Recently, I made a yummy dandelion green smoothie with pineapple, banana, cacao and vanilla rice protein powder.
Tracy Russell is the creator of the Green Smoothie Weight Loss Program, the 30-Day Whole Foods Challenge and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She is passionate about helping people improve their health with green smoothies and a whole foods lifestyle.