Monday, February 15, 2010

Leaves, Peels, Stalks and Stems

A while back (which could mean a year ago or 2 years ago or 6 months ago), I caught an episode of Oprah on which Dr. Oz made a green smoothie with apple and spinach and a bunch of other stuff.

Sometime in January, I started saving the stems and leafy tops of root vegetables, and in the mornings, I’ve been making my own green smoothies. 

This evolved when I was making them with spinach alone and I ran out of spinach. It occurred to me to use turnip greens. The experiment grew from there. Kale is a strange green to add – it almost makes the smoothies taste a little salty. 

2/3 cup of tart cherry juice
1 banana (sometimes I use ½ banana and ½ green apple)
1 handful of fresh blueberries
1 stalk celery
2 hearty-sized handfuls of leafy greens (I’ve used spinach, kohlrabi leaves, turnip greens, beet greens and kale – sometimes, I’ve mixed; other times I’ve stuck to one type)
appx. 1 tsp. parsley leaves
fresh ginger (1/4” thick, half the size of a dime? I like a lot.)
fresh squeezed lemon juice (from 1 wedge)
1/2 to 1 tsp. honey
3-4 ice cubes.

Throw it all in a blender and blend!

I’ve tried making smoothies with no banana and a whole apple, but I cannot get behind the texture of the apple/leafy green version. It tastes gritty each and every time, whereas, with the banana, the texture is (drum roll) smooth. Go figure. I’ve also tried them without, the ice, and I have to say – especially while your taste buds are adjusting to the general concept of the green smoothie – the cold from ice makes them more palatable. Ice also improves the overall texture. One last note, the thicker your greens, the less you need to add, and the longer you need to blend.

When I drink a green smoothie, I feel like I am instantaneously imbibing servings of fruits and vegetables that I otherwise would not eat that day. I also like the taste, although the first time I made the Dr. Oz version, using a recipe from the internet, it had the texture and taste of grass clippings. Playing with the proportions of ingredients helps get it right. But the really big, happy discovery about green smoothies is that, the weeks when I manage to make one every day - which does happen now and then, I notice that my skin looks better. That might sound insane, but it's a true observation. I have always had big dark circles under my eyes; mostly, this is my general coloring. However, the circles become less pronounced those weeks when I have a green smoothie every morning - so something healthy must be happening inside my body too.

I was convinced that I could find more interesting use for these trimmings than stock, but I didn’t try hard to find those interesting uses, and the smoothie is all I came up with. So tonight, I’m saying, Hello stock! I piled cauliflower trimmings, a broccoli stem, kohlrabi stems and leaves, fennel stalks and leaves, ginger, lemon, used tea leaves, half of an unused sweet potato (peels and all) and green onions into a pot. I plan to portion it out and freeze it. I’ll let you know when I get around to using some of the stock.

Anyone out there have other suggestions for how to use leafy greens from root vegetables? I have a feeling that the farmers markets hold the promise of roots and greens for a while to come. 


  1. Green smoothies are the best. I've been adding flax and chia seeds too lately. I applaud all the greens you have been using. I've stuck strictly to spinach but think I'll venture out soon thanks to this entry. Here's some more green smoothies

  2. Thanks for the link. Using all these greens really does help serve double, triple duty. I'm getting local, in-season root vegetables at the market (though the kohlrabi is in the cabbage family), I'm cooking the roots in various ways. I don't have to purchase spinach b/c I'm reusing the greens I get with the roots. AND I know that I'm drinking a smoothie that is seasonal (for the most part). I'm making it my mission to figure out what I can substitute for banana that is fresh and local. I love the idea of adding flax. When I finally get to my post of reader recs. I'll add this link.

  3. Hhhmmmmm Green Smoothies - AWESOME!!!

  4. saute them with garlic and shallots, and toasted nuts, quickly and hit with acid and fish sauce to quickly steam them;blanch and puree and use in crepe batter; as a sauce; stuff like grape leaves; use the sauteed leaves as crepe stuffing; egg with a poached egg hollandaise, and smoked salmon or pork; use as base for a roasted pumpkin soup thicken with roasted pepitas butter(like they do in Mexico, ya know?) use as salad greens. And Kohlrabi is in the Brassicaceae family, and to be more specific to kohlrabi, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and mustards, the Brassica genus.

  5. Sounds good, except I do have to say I really enjoy kale in smoothies now. Alicia turned me on to it. I almost crave it now. I am probably vitamin B deficient.

  6. Oh Good Lord, I will eat a green smoothie every damn day if it will help me with my undereye circles! Thanks for writing this. This idea would never have occurred to me in a thousand years. I try to avoid Dr. Oz on Oprah because it irritates me to no end that the man wears scrubs instead of normal clothes on her show as if just jetting out of the operating room for his appearance. Random venting, sorry!

  7. I realize this probably makes me a complete dino, but I had never thought of or heard of green smoothies, and I LOVE spinach. I have only got into making fruit smoothies in the last 2 years, and they are just conventional banana bases with other fruit added, but I do put in wheat germ. am definitely going to try this as my garden is full of cabbages, swiss chard and beets, and there's going to be a lot of greens...

  8. That is awesome, Herpreet. Living in the midwest makes it SO hard to eat fresh and local this time of year. I'm so jealous of your farmers market trips! April 30th starts ours up again. Cannot wait.

    I'm going to try your recipe soon.

    The word verification I have to typw is "eminglem". Are they calling me a lemming?

  9. Kevin- I like the kale in smoothies too! It just took some getting used to - it really does taste like it has some natural salts in it.

    Eliza - Dr. Oz annoys me too. And for the past few years I have not felt much love for Oprah either. But remember back in the day? Hah

    Amy - You will LOVE the green smoothies! Just keep playing with the portions!

    And - WOW. Some great ideas, Bobby. I got hungry just reading them!

    AND - HELLO Kristin's Raw!!

  10. Made my first green smoothie today: banana, strawberries, satsuma-type fruit though I don't think it was an actual satsuma, pineapple, cucumber, and baby spinach. And an envelope of Stevia because I was afraid it wouldn't be sweet enough for me. (Wrong. I think the fruit would have made it sweet enough.) Oh, and carrot juice! The taste was yummy. The color was horrifying. The texture was one hundred percent gross. I think I need a better blender, but the Blendtec and Vita-Mix options I keep reading about are very pricey. I strained mine through a mesh strainer to get rid of some of the pulpy, stringy horror, but then I ended up with only a tiny bit of smoothie. I am bowed but not beaten; I will try again! Thanks for the inspiration. (This site also taught me a lot about green smoothies.)