6 Veggies That Actually Taste Good in Smoothies
If I can learn to like a green smoothie, anyone can.
If the thought of a bright green smoothie packed with veggies makes you shudder, you're probably not alone. Until two years ago, I felt pretty much the same way. In my case, this anti-vegetables-in-smoothie stance developed with the advent of the juicing trend in Los Angeles where I lived. Juices – in this case, pressed juices — and smoothies aren't quite the same but trendy green juices were how I came to understand what a drinkable vegetable would taste like.
What I discovered was that most of them tasted like liquified grass. I did not acquire a taste for it. Despite giving green juices a good hard try over the years as friends and celebrities proclaimed their love for the stuff, I began to associate those brightly-colored bevvies with disappointment.
Cut to two years ago when I visited my mother in L.A. and she insisted on making a green smoothie in her beloved Vitamix for me. Although I was fully prepared to gulp it down like medicine to humor her, it turned out to be really good. It was fruity, not bitter, and though it was very green, thanks to spinach, the dominant flavors came from the green apples and orange juice she'd used.
In that moment, my stomach's heart grew three sizes to accept Grinch-colored smoothies and, as one does, I captured the moment on Instagram for posterity.
I ended up getting a second-hand Vitamix from my aunt a year later and though I still have some biases (anything with celery or celery juice is a no-go for me 😬), I'm happy to report that I'm enjoying many a veggie-filled smoothie now.
One note: It's never my goal to have the healthiest version of a smoothie. I usually have smoothies as a snack or to replace a quick meal and feel that it's nice to have some vegetables in the mix, especially when it doesn't hurt the flavor.
When it comes to flavor, which is my priority, I think the trouble starts when you add strongly-flavored greens like parsley or celery into the mix, as some recipes for super green juices and smoothies do. My personal rule of thumb is that unless it's a naturally sweet vegetable like carrot or pumpkin, it should make up a third or less of the total volume.
Here are the best vegetables to toss in the blender for a good-tasting smoothie.
If you're already buying bagged spinach for the week, why not use it in a smoothie? With enough fruit in the mix, the spinach flavor fades to the background so you can enjoy a healthy boost in your smoothie without a weird savory aftertaste.
You can also use frozen spinach (it's a favorite for this dietitian) – just be prepared for your smoothie to come out in a darker shade of green.
Although this recipe from The Kitchen is for an ice pop, a bevy of fruits – honeydew, grapes, bananas and orange juice – along with a dose of spinach means it also makes a great green smoothie. Katie Lee notes that a frozen ingredient, like frozen banana or ice, is all you need to enjoy it as a refreshing beverage.
Ellie Krieger's recipe uses a mix of green fruits and green tea as the liquid base for a smoothie with vibrant color. Fresh mint helps to add an extra refreshing boost.
Two cups of spinach might sound like a lot but with apple and orange juice taking charge on the flavor front, the result is as delicious as anything else on this list. If you favor smoothies with more sweetness or tartness, you can always adjust honey and lemon juice to taste.
You can have your kale and drink it too!
This healthy drink has a cup of kale (as well as a dash of flaxseed for an omega-3 boost) and is packed with pineapple and grapes to keep things tasty.
Along with go-to green smoothie ingredients like kale, orange juice, banana and grapes, this recipe includes pear for additional flavor and texture.
Veggie smoothies don't have to be green. Raw or cooked, beets will add a slight earthy flavor (as with any ingredient, if you don't like the taste of beets, don't use them) and rich redness to your smoothies.
Fresh or frozen berries are paired here with a thinly sliced beet for an antioxidant-rich mix.
Vanilla yogurt and cocoa powder help turn this berry and beet smoothie into a drinkable dessert.
Naturally sweet and great in desserts (carrot cake anyone?), carrots are best paired with orange juice and lighter-colored produce for a blended beverage with a bright orange hue.
Ree Drummond's 5-star recipe uses a base of creamy Greek yogurt and a mix of sweet and tropical fruits for a flavorful carrot-infused smoothie in just 5 minutes.
Also naturally sweet, pumpkin sets itself apart here as a vegetable you'd actually want to be the main flavor in a smoothie, rather than being hidden under bright fruit flavors. Plus, you can use pumpkin puree to enjoy fall flavors year-round.
Katie Lee builds a milkshake-like breakfast smoothie with pumpkin puree, milk, yogurt, bananas and pumpkin pie spice.
No fruit? No problem. Amp up the natural, warm sweetness of pumpkin with maple syrup and ginger, and add some additional tang with yogurt and apple cider vinegar.
It works, but again, it's best in small doses.
Ree's delicious smoothie ice pops hide some red cabbage within their berry-flavored depths.