Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Fuel your body first thing in the morning.
It’s called break-fast for a reason.
Yeah, we get it. Breakfast is kind of important.
But let’s be honest. Most of us don’t have time for the kind of breakfast that all these health gurus want us to eat.
Enter the smoothie.
Would You Like a Boost with That?
The popular breakfast beverage has been around for decades but took off in the 90s. And its popularity exploded in recent years. These days, it’s a breakfast staple in households everywhere.
Smoothies have become the preferred method for many of us to eat the important foods we should be getting every day by sipping them instead, like those five servings of fruit and veggies.
Liquid meals have become a part of life, and there’s an entire industry out there dedicated to the latest smoothie fads.
Smoothie bars, smoothie blenders, smoothie bottles, stir-in smoothie boosters. We’ve got frozen fruit blends in the freezer aisle for smoothies. You can buy ready-made smoothies in pouches. There are fancy powdered smoothie stir-ins.
Would you like an energy boost with that?
Or how about our proprietary anti-inflammatory-hyper-energy-detoxifying-anti-stress-colon-cleansing-calming boost with added vitamin C?
The Perfect Smoothie is Growing in Your Backyard
If you love smoothies and have a garden, you’ve probably already put two and two together to create vegetable-filled smoothies. I’ve been secretly feeding my children loads of kale in what they affectionately call “Monster Smoothies” for years.
Making smoothies with garden-fresh ingredients is a fun and tasty way to use your bounty in something that doesn’t require a lot of effort or heat up the kitchen in the middle of the summer. We even planted certain vegetables for smoothies this year.
But what about when the season ends?
I had grand plans of flash freezing bags full of kale, spinach, etc., for us to enjoy in smoothies all winter long. But then, we talked about all the plastic waste vacuum-sealing creates (Plastic has become a four-letter word in our house.) and how much space this would eat up in the freezer.
Then it dawned on me – smoothie powder!
There are so many (ridiculously expensive) powdered greens blends on the market. Why not make our own?
I started cutting greens – kale, spinach, beet tops — every time I went out to the garden and then tossing them into the dehydrator. When they finished drying, I crumbled them into a half-gallon mason jar.
And it’s perfect, folks.
What would have eaten up a ton of precious freezer real estate easily fits on my counter next to the blender. I keep adding more to the jar as the season progresses. I just give it a good shake to mix everything together.
If you love smoothies as much as we do, you’ve got to try this.
Oven or Dehydrator?
There’s really no special trick here. You’re just drying leafy greens down until they crumble apart. For sliced veggies like carrots, beets, or even tomatoes, you want to dry them until the chips snap easily.
I give everything a rinse and then spin it in the salad spinner. I don’t even bother chopping it up. It all crumbles easily when it’s dry. I rip in half anything too big to fit on my drying sheet.
Whenever you’re dehydrating, the key is to go low and slow.
You want the lowest temperature possible in your oven. You’re drying the food out, not cooking it. For food dehydrators, follow the directions in the manual for drying vegetables. (I found 145 works well for me.)
Crumble greens right in the jar. A canning funnel helps keep things neat and tidy. For sliced veggie “chips,” you can crush them lightly and add them to the jar or run them through the blender or food processor before adding them to your smoothie jar.
If you want extra powdery greens, go ahead and pulse your crumbled greens in the blender a few times. But I figure it’s just extra work as it will get mixed in when you blend your smoothie.
Stir it all with a long-handled spoon, and you’re good to go.
Eat Your Greens…and Oranges and Reds and Purples
The next time you head out to the garden, check out what you’re growing. You may be surprised at how many smoothie options you’ve got. Don’t forget; these are all great in smoothies when they’re fresh too!
Here are a few to get you started.
I firmly believe kale should be in everyone’s smoothie, but that’s just me. It grows quickly and prolifically, making it the perfect candidate for powdered smoothie greens.
The tops and the stems are great for smoothies, although you will want to dry them separately, so they dry evenly.
Another powerful leafy green loaded with vitamins and minerals that works well in smoothies. If you’ve got a bumper crop of spinach or need to harvest it before it bolts, consider drying some.
Yes, you read that right. Drying them for smoothies is just one of many things you can make with carrot tops. Don’t let those extra nutrients go to waste.
If you aren’t eating the lovely leafy greens that come with growing beets, you might just be missing out on the best part of the vegetable.
Thinly slice and dehydrate carrots for a dose of beta-carotene in your morning smoothie.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of cooked beets, beet powder is a great addition to smoothies. You get gorgeous color and the anti-inflammatory and liver function benefits.
Yeah, I know, this one isn’t for everyone. But for all of you tomato juice lovers out there, adding some fresh-from your garden dried tomato powder or dried tomato slices to your smoothie will help to give it more body and a nice acidic punch.
Mint takes any smoothie and makes it instantly refreshing.
Give your smoothie a huge flavor and vitamin c boost.
Another anti-inflammatory option growing in your garden with a multitude of other benefits – calming, eases menstrual pain, and could even help regulate your blood sugar.
Don’t Forget the Weeds
While out in the garden, don’t forget to grab a few weeds to dehydrate too. There are so many wild plants growing around us that are jam-packed with nutrients. Those wild cultivars might even have more vitamins and minerals in them than what’s growing on purpose in your garden.
Some great options are:
- Stinging Nettle (Only in the spring, before it flowers; don’t use the stem.)
- Dandelion Leaves
- Purple Dead Nettle
- Wood sorrel
Using Your Homemade Powdered Smoothie Greens
When using your fancy-pants powder, start with just a tablespoon. Using too much of this fiber-rich blend can have, um, “explosive” results. Remember, we’ve reduced a lot of plant material into powder. You can keep adding more each morning until you find a good balance. Your gut will thank you.
If you add a batch or two of dried greens every week throughout the season, you’ll have plenty of powdered greens to get you through the winter. Of course, the idea starts with smoothies, but why stop there? Sprinkle your powdered greens into soup, stir-fries or over roasted vegetables.
Since you read all the way to the bottom, I’ll share my favorite smoothie hack with you. If you have bananas that are starting to get overripe, peel them and toss them in a zip-top bag in the freezer. Add a frozen banana to your smoothie for an easy, natural sweetener that also adds great, creamy texture.
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Including Sunday ramblings from our editor, Tracey, as well as “What’s Up Wednesday” our roundup of what’s in season and new article updates and alerts.