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 serving.
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 blend without tasting them.
Hiding The Bitter Flavor Of Greens With Fruit
An apple-spinach green smoothie will taste like apple. The delicate flavor of spinach is easily masked by the sweetness in the apple.
A kale-apple smoothie will taste like kale. Kale is much more bitter, so its flavor cuts through the sweetness of the apple.
An apple-dandelion smoothie will be difficult to drink! Dandelion greens are the most bitter leafy green, so you need much sweeter fruit to mask it like bananas and pineapple.
When working with bitter greens, use only the most flavorful, sweet fruit. The best two fruits to use are pineapples and ripe bananas.
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 an extra half banana at a time to the green smoothie until you are satisfied.
Flavor Modifications For Bitter Green Smoothies
There are some things that 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. While cacao itself is bitter, it gives your smoothie a chocolate flavor when blended with sweet fruits.
Vanilla bean (or extract) is also a great way to modify the flavor and mask any subtle bitterness from the leafy 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 before 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 right now. Try it again after drinking green smoothies for a few weeks and you’ll be surprised!
Skip The Sweetener
A lot of people are tempted to sweeten a green smoothie with dates, honey, or agave syrup. I recommend skipping these sweeteners.
Honey and agave are concentrated sources of added sugars. They are not healthy and they have no place in your green smoothies.
While dates contain naturally occurring sugars, they are a concentrated source. Adding one medjool date adds a significant amount of sugar to your green smoothie. Skip the dates.
Even using non-sugar sweeteners like stevia can sabotage your health. Stevia is really sweet tasting. Adding it to your green smoothies prevents your taste buds from adjusting to less sweetened foods. I strongly believe that it is important to let your taste buds adjust to less sweet foods.
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.