Getting Started With Green Smoothies

I’ve received a few emails and Facebook comments asking about how to get started with green smoothies. I thought it might be good to setup a “getting started” guide that can help as you get started with drinking green smoothies. First, congrats for taking the first step…getting started! If you are a regular LTF reader, you know green smoothies have helped me with my weight loss.

arthur asheBefore we get into the green smoothies FAQ guide, I’d like to share something very important. I am often asked if you need a high-end Blendtec or Vitamix blender to get started. Or if you need to use all organic fruit. Or if you have to use a certain cup or superfood mix. The answer is best said from tennis great Arthur Ashe in the quote on the right.

What this means is that you should just get started. I will talk about blenders in this document but if you already have a blender, use it. If you have conventional fruit, eat it. Do what you can with what you have to get started. Just get started.

Green Smoothie Getting Started Guide:

Mango Green Smoothie

Are all “smoothies” healthy?

I want to start the FAQ guide with this topic because the term smoothie has become the hot marketing term as of late. Marketers know if they jam “smoothie” into their menu, they can somehow target people as offering a healthy option. The truth is that NOT ALL SMOOTHIES ARE HEALTHY. You should always look at the ingredients list before buying a smoothie.

Here is an example of what I consider to be not a healthy smoothie – it comes from Burger King. They have been promoting their smoothies with lots of sports stars but what they don’t tell you is what is in their smoothies. Here are some of the interesting ingredients in their “Strawberry Banana Smoothie”: sugar syrup, natural flavors (wtf is this), Xanthan Gum, Pectin, Guar Gum and CMC Gum. Do any of those things sound healthy? Compare that to my strawberry banana smoothie which has: strawberry, banana, spinach and apple juice.

Your goal with buying a smoothie at a juice bar or restaurant should be to have 100% fruit and vegetables.

Buying smoothies at juice/smoothie chains

Earlier this year I wrote about the “smoothie ice scam“. When you purchase a smoothie at Smoothie King, they add over half of the cup as ice. That means when you purchase a 12oz smoothie, 6+ ounces are ice/water. It’s important to understand this so that you can evaluate how much fruit and vegetables you are getting in that cup of smoothie. Remember that the cost of a smoothie might be the same between Smoothie King and Whole Foods, but the health difference is night and day. I will drink my water on its own thank you. With that said, a smoothie from Smoothie King is still better than a Coke or a Twix any day of the week.

I prefer to purchase my smoothies (if I am not making it at home) at Whole Foods or Earthfare or a local juice bar. So far all of the local juice bars/smoothie shops I’ve tried here in Austin use all fruit in their smoothies. In fact, Earthfare has a huge sign that says “our smoothies are all fruit”. If you aren’t sure, ask the merchant what they use in their smoothies.

If you are coming to, or live in Austin, check out Blenders & Bowls for awesome smoothies and acai bowls. They are located downtown across the street from the convention center and their staff is very friendly.


I don’t care what kind of blender you have, you can make a smoothie with it. Some blenders may take longer than others, some might be smaller than others, but to-date I haven’t found a blender that won’t make a green smoothie. I started with a “personal blender” from Tribest and now I use that as my travel blender. Today I use a Blendtec which I love as it is amazingly easy to clean which is important at 6am.

If you want to check out reviews of the high-end Blendtec and Vitamix blenders, check out John Kohlers YouTube channel. He has TONS of video reviews and goes into depth on all of the various models. He also sells the blenders and you can also buy the Blendtec and Vitamix on Amazon. If you are a Costco member, I’ve found the best pricing during their “blender roadshows”. QVC also has product demos of various blenders worth watching although their pricing is higher than Amazon.

If your blender is chugging along with the frozen fruit, just let the fruit sit outside the freezer for an hour before blending. What I used to do with the Tribest was take the fruit out of the freezer, take a shower, get dressed and the fruit was the perfect temp for blending.

Again, whatever blender you have or you can afford will be great – just get started!

Organic vs. conventional fruit and vegetables

If you can afford organic, go for it 100% of the time. But if organic isn’t available in your area, should you skip the smoothie and go for a mcdonalds meal? Of course not! I like John’s quote here, “good, better, best” – always shoot for the best but sometimes you can only do the better and that’s great and sometimes you can only get the good and that’s perfect.

What I do is evaluate the price difference between the organic and conventional and also use the “dirty dozen” list I’ve noted below. For example, I purchase my bananas at Central Market (it’s like Whole Foods here in Austin). Their conventional bananas are $0.49/pound and their organic bananas are $0.69/pound. I will always purchase the organic because the price difference is so small. But for strawberries, I purchase a 5lb bag of frozen at $8.33. The organic equivalent is about $14. I can’t justify the cost difference. Oddly, frozen mango chunks are pretty close in price so I go for the organic.

You should definitely get acclimated with the numbering system used on fruits and vegetables. It’s pretty simple: 4-digit code means conventional, 5-digit code with 9 as the first digit means organic and 5-digit code with 8 as the first digit means GMO which you do not want. You should also check out this list of the “dirty dozen” – these are the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides.

organic and conventional fruit codes

Frozen vs. fresh fruit and vegetables

I would generally say that fresh is always best but may not be the most convenient. Frozen fruit can stay in your freezer for a year and will be ready anytime you want a smoothie. One of the keys to my weight loss has been to “be prepared” and by having frozen fruit, I am always ready to make a green smoothie. I use frozen fruit (e.g. mango, strawberry, banana, peaches, pineapple, etc.) and I use fresh vegetables (mostly spinach but some kale, etc.). I buy fresh bananas and freeze them in chunks but the other fruit I buy frozen.

Be careful when you purchase the frozen fruit that the only ingredient is the fruit and that it’s not some puree with added sugar or some other ingredients.

My first green smoothie

Start simple – I started with just strawberry, banana, apple juice. Then after a week, I added a small amount of spinach. Then over time I added more and more greens and reduced the apple juice. Check out my current strawberry green smoothie.

My suggestions for your first smoothie are:

  1. strawberry, banana, apple juice, spinach
  2. peaches, banana, orange juice, spinach
  3. mango, banana, orange juice, spinach
  4. pineapple, banana, orange juice, spinach

I promise you won’t taste the spinach. It’s important to note that if you use dark fruits like strawberries or blueberries, the smoothie might be a pretty ugly color when you add the spinach. If the color bothers you, get a cup that you can’t see inside :) . The light color fruits will produce bright-green colored smoothies.

Once you get comfy with the starter green smoothies, check out the green smoothie directory below.


Once you get comfy with green smoothies, you can start to experiment with lots of different options. I know superfoods may seem “new age” or whatever, but honestly I feel like they do help me feel great. Since starting to use superfoods in my smoothies, I feel like my body senses new feelings – it’s hard for me to explain but it feels completely awesome.

Since the superfoods are on the expensive side, I’d suggest waiting until you get happy with some of the starter recipes I’ve listed above.

I use Maca, Chia, Acai, Flax in my smoothies – this makes them superfood smoothies. It’s kinda like how Clark Kent becomes Superman (cheese alert!). They don’t change the taste of the smoothie at all and each of the superfoods does something different inside your body.

To buy superfoods, I like the Navitas Naturals brand. I’ve found the best pricing is at Amazon and iHerb. If you want to get a small amount to try, Whole Foods (and other natural grocers) sell several superfoods in their bulk section.

Green Smoothie directory

For more smoothie ideas, check out my Pinterest smoothie board. Also signup for the Smoothie a Day newsletter where I send out a new smoothie idea each weekday including dessert smoothie Fridays!

Contact me with questions

If you have any questions, and I mean any questions, shoot me an email at “”. I am happy to try to answer any questions you have or direct you to someone who can help.

Thanks for reading my green smooothie FAQ guide – you are now on your way to better health, weight loss and a more awesome you!

36 replies on “Getting Started With Green Smoothies

  1. Michelle

    What is your take on adding protein powder to smoothies? I just bought a plant based protein at my fave health food store. I usually use a whey protein base- I thought I would change things up.
    Would love your opinion.

    1. Allen Post author

      Hi Lauren – welcome to LTF :) The spinach doesn’t change the taste at all – I put in as much as my blender can hold – I’d suggest starting with one handful and then move up from there. It is important to know that if you put the spinach into a dark berry smoothie (strawberry for example), the smoothie might be an ugly color when blended. If the color bothers you, just put the smoothie in a cup you can’t see inside.

    1. Aimee Stormes

      also what does the citrus juice make the apples taste like? it sounds amazing and from the reviews ill def try it. i was just wondering. great site by the way.
      thank you

      1. Allen Post author

        Thanks for the kind words Aimee – really made my day! I don’t want to give away the secret taste – just go make it – takes a minute and is easy :) And stop back afterwards and let me know what you think of it. I had a woman tell me yesterday her husband gave up candy bars after he tried my apple snack – that is so cool.

    2. Allen Post author

      Hi Aimee – thanks for stopping by. My belief is that any blender will do a great job for green smoothies – do you already have a blender? If so, I say start with that! I started with a small travel blender that I got on a deal (amazon link) and then got the big blendtec. If you don’t have a blender, can you give me an idea of how much you want to spend on a blender? That will help me give you some good recommendations. If you are worried that your current blender can’t do the smoothies, my suggestion is to let the fruit defrost for 30 minutes then you will be good to go. Please let me know how I can help.

    1. Allen Post author

      Cool! I tell people to always use what they have – no reason to go out and spend hundreds on a blender. Plus the magic bullet is great for traveling with because it is so small.

    1. Allen Post author

      Thanks Tamarae – it’s funny, I had that glass in my cupboard forever – then one day I figured I would use it for a smoothie – and it’s been my most popular glass lol! :)

  2. wendy

    Ready to change my eating habits….how much of each ingredient for my first smoothies and how much do u drink at one time and how often? Im ready to get started :)

  3. Brenda

    I am new to the smoothie world, but I also wanted to change my eating habits. I was very afraid to give it a try. I approached the whole thing as if it were a trip to the dentist when I had a cavity. Something that I know I need to do but dread doing it. Usually the only dark green veggies I ingest are in tablet form. I am extremely happy to write that I was amazed at how well this tasted. I rarely write anything on blogs but this one I had to. Thank you for the recipes! I can’t wait to try other flavors!

    1. Allen Post author

      Brenda – you just made my day – seriously, thanks so much for stopping by. I am SO glad you like the smoothie recipes. Before I tried green smoothies, I too never ate any green veggies and now I won’t go a day without them. Yea, give other recipes a try – both mine and others around the web. And shoot me an email if you ever have any questions.

  4. Jennifer

    I just made a green smoothie and I also was hesitant. I kept telling myself this won’t taste good, he is used to eating like this. He says you can’t taste the spinach but I bet you can! I put two large handfuls in my strawberry banana smoothie and it was great! My kids liked it as well. I’m debating whether to use the apple juice again or change to milk, to have less sugar and add calcium. I’ve gone through spurts where I would juice and the spinach definitely has a taste. Making smoothies taste much better and I
    won’t go through 20 lbs of fruits and veggies to make a drink!

    1. Allen Post author

      Hi Jennifer – thanks for the comment :) I haven’t been doing this that long to be honest and trust me, i thought the same about the spinach! You might want to do some research because what I’ve heard is that dairy is not good to mix in the smoothies. I know yogurt is popular but from what I read, it can be tougher to digest that combo. I want my green smoothies to go in my stomach and get to work fixing me up and so none of the smoothies I’ve posted include any dairy. Of course an almond milk would work. Lol on the juices – it is funny how much fruit you need to make just one glass of juice but remember that juices are also very important.

    1. Allen Stern Post author

      Hi Tairy – yes, you can use frozen spinach – make sure it is ONLY spinach. It’s important to note that all frozen spinach is blanched first – so it may remove some of the nutritional value of the spinach but overall it’s a great way- it’s also way less expensive than fresh. Give it a go :)

    1. Allen Stern Post author

      Hi Amber – sure! You can use any green – I’ve heard bok choy is also great. Spinach is the most mild, some of the others may adjust the taste a bit so you might want to go easy to start with on the kale. I like dino kale the best – it’s also called lacinato kale.

  5. Angela

    I just discovered your website…loving it already, I have made a lot of healthy lifestyle changes after diagnosed with fatty liver disease, and feel better already…Can you recommend a smoothy for this condition, I just purchased a nutri-bullet and cant wait to put it to good use for my family and I with your great recipes…thanks so much :)

  6. Dustyn

    I am verrrry new to this whole “I’m gonna actually make myself lose weight” scene. My question is are the green weight loss smoothies meant as a meal replacement or as a snack or a pick-me-up? Or both? :)

    1. Allen Stern Post author

      Hi Dustyn – welcome to the weight loss scene lol :) I drink my green smoothies in the morning – I guess you could call them a breakfast replacement.

  7. Angela

    I am looking into possibly buying some of the superfoods you have mentioned. I was wondering if it matters whether you use a powder form or liquid form, how would you convert the amounts used, does it make a difference? Thanks

    1. Allen Stern Post author

      Hi Angela – I use the powder of all of them – I know flax comes in a liquid too as I see it at Whole Foods. I don’t have the conversion on hand, what I would suggest is looking at both packages and compare the amount of x in it – for example the Omega 3s – then you would have a way to compare.

  8. val

    Can you please do some recipes without bananas (or suggest some substitutes). They seem to be called for in so many smoothie recipes, but some of us are allergic to them. There must be other fruit (or powders or what have you) that can thicken smoothies similarly?

    1. Allen Stern Post author

      Hi Val – it’s been amazing how many people have said they either don’t like bananas or are allergic this week! My inbox has been overflowing with banana issues :) You can either leave them out or use avocado – it will give the smoothie the same consistency. Hope that helps!

  9. meagan

    Hi Allen,

    I live your website just found it while on interests today :)

    I have been loving green smoothies but I have being doing mine differently and am now assuming my recipe is a reason why I don’t feel energy or something..

    Can you maybe give me some pointers??

    Currently I have been using a banana (sliced, frozen), frozen strawberries, spinach, 1/4cup Greek vanilla yogurt, almond milk!!

    Also I have been hearing list of good things about chia seeds so I bought a bag… What do you suggest I use them with and how much especially for smoothies?

    1. Allen Stern Post author

      Hi Meagan – your recipe sounds really good – I don’t use yogurt as the research I have done says mixing dairy with fruit/veggies isn’t a good combo for the digestive system. Can you give me some ideas on your recipe amounts? how many strawberries, how much banana, etc. Also, I put chia in all my green smoothies – every morning 2 tablespoons :)

  10. francine

    Hello Allen I see you mention using avacados in smoothies, any suggestions on how to store them once you cut into them? How much do you use? Thanks

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