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extra ingredients for green smoothies [part 1 of 7]

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Feb 16, 2009

Many health food nuts like me have a mental list of ingredients they know are nutritional powerhouses, and we want to get them in our diet but often fail to do so, because we don’t know how or don’t fit it into the day’s menu. Green smoothies are the perfect way to do that–just toss some stuff in! Be adventurous. Use those exotic, high-impact nutrition items if you can afford them. If not, please don’t worry about it–you’re getting tons of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from the simple greens and fruit combinations. Smoothies don’t have to contain expensive, exotic ingredients. But not all of the “other ingredients” discussed in this section are expensive.

Kelp and dulse

If you don’t mind the seaweedy taste of sea vegetables like kelp and dulse, use those high-impact foods in your blender. Just a little bit is enough, and they are more thyroid nourishing than any other food. So if you are hypothyroid (as about 25 percent of women are in America, many of them undiagnosed), consider getting one or both of these foods in your daily diet. Green smoothies are an easy way to do that. Those who suffer with low energy and slow metabolism often have low thyroid problems. (And diagnosing it can be difficult, involving full-panel blood testing done by a hormone clinic, examining the interplay of several different variables.) Taking a thyroid hormone causes disease risk and can burn out the thyroid even more over time, especially the synthetic drugs such as Synthroid and Cytomel. Sea vegetables nourish and support the thyroid rather than sort of jab and poke it to perform.

Flax oil

If you don’t know how to get flax oil in your diet, minerals from greens are absorbed better when eaten with some fats, so putting flax oil in your green smoothie is a great idea. You’ll never even notice it, used in this form. A tablespoon daily is a good dosage for an adult to avoid inflammatory ailments, and protect healthy cell membranes needed to keep toxic elements out but allow nutrients in. Flax oil has wide-ranging benefits uncovered in research in the past decade involving the immune, circulatory, reproductive, cardiovascular, and nervous system. It’s rich in essential fatty acids, including the rather rare omega-6 and omega-9 nutrients that your body cannot manufacture itself and must receive from outside sources.

Using flax oil, you can avoid taking fish oil with all its attendant risks (fish being tainted with mercury and other pollutants). Flax has more lignans by 80 times than the next-highest food, which cut your risk of breast and colon cancers dramatically. Research connects it to reduction of PMS symptoms, improvement in multiple sclerosis treatment, reduction in allergies and arthritis and diabetes, as well as eczema, asthsma, and loss of eyesight. It increases fat burning and allows you to recover from sprains and muscle fatigue more quickly.

You should never heat flax oil, which damages its nutritional properties, and you must purchase it refrigerated and use it very fresh, as it becomes rancid in only a month or two. This is one of the more expensive ingredients you can add to smoothies. If you prefer, you can grind a small amount of flaxseed instead. This is inexpensive, but the whole seed is mucilaginous, thereby making your smoothie thicker and bulkier, so if you add ground flaxseed instead of oil, you may want to add more water to compensate. Use freshly ground flaxseed, as it oxidizes and becomes rancid quickly once ground. You can use your BlendTec Total Blender, or a small $10 electric coffee grinder from any store like Target or Walmart.

If you add interesting things to your GS, let us know! I’ll be posting more of my additions over the next 6 days.

Posted in: Green Smoothies, Nutrition

17 thoughts on “extra ingredients for green smoothies [part 1 of 7]”

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  1. Anonymous says:


    I just love all of the information you post and I wanted to get your opinion on something. I have recently discovered Chia Seeds and according to everything I read they are quite the powerhouse of nutrition. Some say it is better then flax but I think they each have their important roles. What are your thoughts on Chia Seed?

    I have been making chia gel (2c water 1/3 cup) and adding some to my green smoothies, as well as making pudding with it. I find that the Chia gel gives a smoother consistency to green smoothies that I don’t want to put a banana in. Here is the smoothie I made today and loved:

    Strawberry Lemonade Green Smoothie

    10 Frozen Strawberries

    1/2 lemon (peeled)

    1/4C or more of Chia gel ( I didn’t actually measure how much I put in)

    1 T agave

    lots of Spinach

    water to desired consistency

    OK this is getting long but I just wanted to get your thoughts on this and thank you for all of your work and the information you share! I am excited to buy your book!

  2. http:// says:

    Chia is great, and the chia gel is a great way to thicken something!

  3. Anonymous says:

    could we get more info on chia gel? I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a really great smoothie for my dad who does NOT like strawberries OR bananas…can you make a “gel” with flax seeds? could you give specific instructions ont he gel? ground it and mix it in with 2c water and let it sit? or refrigerate it or what? I guess I’d say the BIG difference between chia and flax is the price?! maybe I’m wrong since I haven’t bought any (saw it on the shelf and can’t remember the price but decided against buying it!)

    Robyn–I can’t stand paying for the RAW chocolate right now–when you say non=alkalized cocoa is that what I’m getting in the bulk section at good earth? RAW cocoa?

  4. Anonymous says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBYN—wasn’t it over the weekend?!!! you must finally be 27 right?!! 😉

    I made the almond joy for my family in UT for the weekend and they just LOVED it! every recipe I’ve tried of yours is not only good but a favorite–I am LOVING 12 steps!

  5. http:// says:

    Let’s see, I haven’t made chia gel myself, but I’ve read to put 1 Tbsp. ground chia in 1 cup water. Let us know how that goes.

    I think “raw cocoa” is a contradiction in terms since cocoa is roasted . . . but if you get raw cacao (nibs or powder), try Amazon for the best price.

    And thanks very much, yes, last week was my 27th birthday, haha! (42 actually, ACK!)

  6. Anonymous says:

    You don’t grind the chia before making the gel. I suppose you could, but I never have. Per instructions online I make my chia gel by adding 2C water to 1/3 C chia seed, shake really well and I put mine in the refrigerator overnight so it is ready for my morning shake. I bought Chia at the health food store for $20 per 1 lb which was very overpriced. I recently bought some from for $6.78 a lb (I bought 5 pounds) and with shipping it comes out to $8 something per pound. I think you can get it from Azure Standard too. I hope this helps!

  7. Anonymous says:

    You asked for interesting green smoothie ingredients. I put hemp seeds in mine. Probably not too uncommon though.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dear Robin,

    Again, I must thank you here for introducing me a year ago to Green Smoothies! I love them and have become a fan of all sorts of greens.

    I have a question regarding greens and the oil I use. I begin by putting or should I say stuffing my blendtec pitcher to the top with a combination of kale, spinach, chard, and romaine lettuce and a bit of water. After blended it only makes about 20-24 ounces of green smoothie…Then I add apples, berries and a banana. Should I use less greens? This makes a pitcher full of GS that I drink each day.

    Also, I use 1 tab. coconut oil in my smoothie and make a flaxseed oil dressing for my salad…is this okay? What is the best way to use coconut oil..or should I even have it everyday?

    Thanks in advance, Deb

  9. I don’t know if it’s “interesting” or not, but half a pomegranate is a pretty amazingly tasty addition to a green smoothie!

  10. I also use chia and hemp … but others are right that at most health food stores these are expensive and it’s better to order online from various places. I use flax directly in my savory smoothies or blended soups but not generally in my smoothies. I just recently tried adding dulse, and am cautiously trying it in more and more smoothies and soups because I know I need more sea vegetables. I haven’t yet found a local source of kelp so I’ll have to order sometime.

    I’ve been meaning to ask if the coconut milk/water in your recipes can be replaced with any canned versions (I’ve been afraid to try them) as I haven’t yet been able to get any young coconuts.

    Thanks for all your info!

  11. http:// says:

    Yes, you can use canned coconut liquid in your pink smoothie–I do that occasionally. And coconut milk is always going to come from the can.

  12. I tivo’d your wife swap show today, and watched it finally. Where did you get those green drink bottles with the green cap? I need to get my kids some of those. Thanks so much! Toni

  13. http:// says:

    Actually, those bottles were a pain and I wouldn’t recommend them. Sorry. DANG, they ran the show as a rerun again, huh? I keep hoping that thing will just die . . . just remember, I’m way more fun and a lot more laid back than they edited me to be!!

  14. LOL! I would feel the same way. I figured they edit to make the show “more interesting”. Thats the second time I have seen that bottle though. So I thought it might be a good one. Oh well. One of these days I will find a good bottle for them. I use a mason jar for mine, as well as my dh. The kids might not do so well though. Thanks so much!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been adding a tsp of spirulina to my green smoothie every morning. You don’t taste it and I swear it has helped me through the winter cold/flu season without a hitch!

  16. Personally, I can’t stand the taste of the sea weed stuff so I don’t use it. I do like chia and I also add maca root to my green smoothies. Also coconut milk.

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