Broccoli can be a hit or miss when it comes to green smoothies. The first time my husband added broccoli to his smoothie, he added a few florets. This was before we had our powerful Vitamix. Our old blender was no match for broccoli’s toughness and the little “flowers” didn’t blend. He sipped and chewed a very gritty smoothie.
Once we got our Vitamix, we tried again. Only this time, he stuffed an entire stalk of broccoli in the blender. It certainly liquified completely (no sipping and chewing), but it was so ghastly he couldn’t drink it. Liquifying broccoli not only releases its nutrition, it also unleashes its bitterness.
Since these first attempts, I’ve experimented with this nutritious green vegetable and found that broccoli can actually work really well, and taste fine, in a green smoothie if you use it the right way.
Broccoli Nutrition and Health Benefits
Broccoli is a great source of vitamins A (as beta-carotene) and C and is also a good source of folate. Folate is especially important for women who are pregnant. Insufficient folate in the diet of pregnant women may increase the risk of brain defects in growing fetuses. One cup of broccoli contains 14% RDA (recommended daily allowance) of folate.
Broccoli also contains small amounts of all B vitamins (except B12), copper, potassium and phosphorus as well as dietary fiber. The antioxidants in broccoli may play a role in reducing the risk of breast, cervical and prostate cancer while also boosting liver function.
How Broccoli Compares To Kale and Spinach Nutritionally
Almost every time I post a smoothie that contains broccoli, someone asks me if they can use broccoli as a leafy green in place of kale or spinach. While broccoli is very good for you, it’s not in the same league as the king of greens, dandelion and kale.
However, broccoli is certainly nutritious and can add a significant source of vitamins and minerals in a green smoothie recipe. If you look at the chart below, broccoli is comparable to spinach when you look at the vitamins and minerals in just one cup.
Nutrition information based on a 1 cup serving size.
Broccoli and kale are both in the same cruciferous plant family, so it’s important to keep that in mind when you rotate your greens. Spinach, leaf lettuce and dandelion greens are an appropriate rotation for broccoli if you don’t have access to a lot of other greens.
How To Use Broccoli In A Green Smoothie
Making broccoli work in a green smoothie can be tricky. If you have a high-speed blender like a Vitamix, you’re good to go. You can probably get away with adding up to two cups of broccoli florets, depending on what other sweet fruits you use and your personal taste preferences.
If you have a cheaper department store blender, then I’d limit the use of broccoli to no more than one cup, and even that might not completely liquify. Start by adding a couple florets and see how well your blender performs.
Frozen broccoli is easier to work with. Frozen broccoli tends to be less bitter than raw. Additionally, you can steam it and then allow the broccoli to cool before adding it to your smoothie. This will help break down plant cells, making it easier for your blender to process it.
Adding too much broccoli will cause the smoothie to be too thick and bitter. I found that adding banana with broccoli really helps to sweeten the taste and gives it the right amount of creaminess. I usually add one large banana per one cup of broccoli I use. Mangoes, peaches and berries help further mask the flavor of broccoli in green smoothies.
Broccoli Green Smoothie Recipes
Basic Banana and Broccoli Smoothie
- 2 large bananas, peeled
- 2 cups frozen broccoli, choppen
- 8 ounces of filtered water
Calories: 152 | Fat: 0.8g (gram) | Protein: 4g | Carbs: 37g | Calcium: 4% | Iron: 1mg | Vitamin A: 22% | Vitamin C: 103%
NOTE: I recommend that you use a high-speed blender for the above recipe. Otherwise, add no more than a few florets to see how your blender performs.
Broccoli Grapefruit Detox
- 1 large banana, peeled
- 1 cup broccoli, chopped
- 1/2 red grapefruit, peeled
- 8 ounces of homemade almond milk
Calories: 264 | Fat: 4g (grams) | Protein: 7g | Carbs: 55g | Calcium: 10% | Iron: 1.5 mg | Vitamin A: 189% | Vitamin C: 202%
NOTE: You can always replace the 1/2 grapefruit with one orange if you don’t like grapefruit or are taking a medication that doesn’t allow you to have it.
Browse more green smoothie recipes.
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.