Kale is an excellent green to use in your healthy fruit smoothie recipes. Kale is related to cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts and has a flavor that is more suggestive of broccoli. Personally, I prefer to use kale in my green smoothie recipes over spinach because kale helps cut the sweetness of the fruit and delivers more than twice the recommended daily value of calcium than spinach.
Kale is readily available most of the year and is inexpensive. My local supermarket carries it for 99 cents per pound and organic can be found for $2.99 per pound (which is enough to make 3-4 large smoothies).
Nutrition and Health Benefits
Kale contains beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin (a carotenoid similar to lutein), calcium and fiber. A sulfur-containing phytonutrient in kale called sulforaphane is believed to have powerful anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-microbial properties and is released when the leaves are chopped or chewed (or blended in a green smoothie!)
Kale also contains powerful antioxidants that help protect against certain cancers such as ovarian cancer. Kale is an excellent green to use for detox smoothies as it has cleansing properties. The nutrients in kale help protect against cataracts while promoting healthy lungs, cardiovascular health and boosts the immune system. Kale has anti-inflammatory properties making it an excellent food for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
How To Select Kale
Select kale with deeply colored green leaves that are firm and do not show signs of wilting, yellowing or browning. Kale is readily available year round. Since kale ranks highly for pesticide residue (ranking 69 out of 100) according to research conducted by the Environmental Working Group, I recommend that you use organic kale whenever possible.
Using Kale In Green Smoothies
Kale has a slightly stronger flavor than baby spinach, so if you are not used to green smoothies, you might want to use strongly flavored fruit such as strawberries or pineapple to help mask the flavor. You can also slowly introduce kale into your smoothie recipes and increase the amount to two cups per recipe over time. I enjoy the flavor of kale in my green smoothies. Kale has a firmer texture than spinach as well, so you might need to blend your shake slightly longer if you are not using a high-end Vita-Mix blender.
Kale Smoothie Recipes
Here’s a great kale green smoothie recipe I tried recently:
Meat and 1 cup water from a young, Thai coconut
1 whole orange, peeled
2 cups kale
3-4 large strawberries
Blend until rich and smooth. This smoothie recipe contains over 30% of your daily value of calcium and is a great complement to a healthy breakfast.
Kale can be substituted for spinach in any of our green smoothie recipes.
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.