When I went to a class all about making green smoothies last year, I was inundated with ideas for getting my family (myself included) to eat more veggies. Suddenly there were all sorts of possibilities for using leafy greens and other vegetables we had never used before.
We sampled many different combinations and each one was different and delicious. It’s amazing how a handful of berries can transform a blender-ful of kale and chard (which I never would have touched before)into something not just palatable, but good! I was determined to get my family eating healthier via the green smoothie.
The only problem was that we had just a regular blender, not a green smoothie blender. And it was second-hand.
Blending raw, whole foods requires a stronger motor than your standard blender. The teacher said the only real options for a green smoothie blender are a Vitamix or a Blendtec. I came home and did a little research on the price. When I saw the price tag of around $300-400, I knew that I had to make our regular blender do the job for the time being.
Meanwhile, I found lots of ways to save money with green smoothies. With some trial and error, I learned some secrets to making green smoothies in a regular blender.
I was a little surprised that some fresh greens put a strain on my blender. We used a lot of chard because it grows so easily in the garden most of the year. Because it tends to have stringy fibers, fresh chard was especially hard on the blender. The strings would wrap around the base of the blade and completely stop the motor. Thankfully our blender had nine lives.
I found that frozen chard and other greens blended easily.
I picked and washed chard, kale, spinach, and other greens from the garden, then froze them in Ziploc bags
Greens are easy to break when they are frozen. Handling frozen greens is much easier on the blender than fresh greens.
Our wimpy blender struggled with ice. There would be giant ice chunks in our smoothies because the blender’s blade would just kind of “sand down” the edges.
Instead of using ice cubes, we froze most ingredients for our smoothies. Instead of using fresh bananas, we froze them first. Instead of fresh strawberries, we put them in the freezer. Frozen foods are not as hard as pure ice. The frozen ingredients made for a refreshing cold smoothie without having our blender lose a fight with the ice.
Chop it up
High-power blenders do an amazing job pulverizing raw foods like apples and carrots. With a regular blender, you will have to do more of the legwork yourself. If you are nervous about whether or not a fruit or veggie will blend well in your smoothie, try chopping it up well before adding it. This will give your blender the best possible chance at making a smoothie with a good texture. Depending on your blender, even pre-chopping may not allow you to blend some ingredients in to a smoothie-like consistency, but it’s worth a try!
Lots of liquid
From the beginning you will want a good amount of liquid. When we are making a full-blender smoothie we add at least 2 cups of liquid. Be sure to add more if your blender struggles or sounds like the motor is straining. Having a mixture that is too thick is rough on the motor.
Thicken at the end
We often use homemade yogurt to thicken our smoothies. It is easiest on your blender if you save the yogurt or other thickeners until the end. Having a more liquidy mixture to work with when the blender is pureeing your fruits and veggies will be easier on the motor. Once all the ingredients are smooth, add in the thickening ingredients and allow the blender to simply mix them in.
Our second-hand blender lasted nearly a year!
Using these tips, I made our second-hand blender last for nearly a year of green smoothie abuse. We made about five smoothie a week for 11 months.
Seeing my determination and perseverance with the green smoothies, my husband surprised me at Christmas with a Blendtec blender. Now that we were serious about green smoothies (it wasn’t just a fad or something we intended to do), he felt good making the investment in a quality blender with a great warranty. He got a great deal on a factory certified refurbished Blendtec and we love it!
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