This Kale Smoothie recipe is one of my favorite ways to incorporate more dark leafy greens into my day. Flavor-wise, kale can sometimes be overpowering in smoothies, but for some reason this combination is magic! My kids call it green “ice cream” and happily gobble it up.
What are the Health Benefits of Kale?
Kale is low in calories and high in nutrients, causing some people to deem it a “superfood.” Here are a few reasons I try to eat more of it:
- Kale is high in antioxidants, including quercetin and kaempferol. Antioxidants may help to lower inflammation and help protect against heart disease and cancer, by counteracting oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the body. (source)
- It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, with one cup of raw kale containing more than a whole orange!
- Kale may help lower cholesterol. One study found that drinking kale juice daily for 12 weeks increased “good” cholesterol in participants by 27% while also lowering “bad” cholesterol by 10%. (source)
- It’s a great source of vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting, and it also contains magnesium and potassium, which have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Kale is also high in fiber, which is why some people don’t love chewing it in a salad. It’s very fibrous in texture! That’s why this smoothie is a great option. The blender does the “chewing” for you!
Be sure to remove the tough center stem from kale leaves before adding them to your smoothie. They are edible, but can be bitter in a smoothie. I like to save them to add to my celery juice, where the flavor isn’t as noticeable.
Is it OK to put Raw Kale in a Smoothie?
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, in the same family as broccoli and cauliflower, and contains a compound called glucosinolates. These contain another compound called thiocyanates which may hinder thyroid function, and this has caused some alarm in regards to eating raw kale.
However, according to most experts, including the Mayo Clinic, you’d have to eat a VERY LARGE amount of raw kale for this to be an issue– much more than you would put into a daily smoothie or kale salad. According to Cooking Light’s Food & Nutrition Director, “The benefit of eating these vegetables usually outweighs any potential negatives.”
How Long Does a Kale Smoothie Last?
You can make this smoothie and store it in an airtight container for up to 24 hours in advance, but I think it tastes the best if you drink it within an hour of making it.
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If you’d like to save yourself some effort in the morning, try assembling a few make-ahead smoothie bags when you have 10 minutes to spare. You can place the kale, banana, mango, and avocado in an airtight bag (I use reusable Stasher bags) and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to make your smoothie, simply dump the contents of the bag into the blender with the orange juice and water and blend until smooth!
I like to make 4 smoothie bags at a time, so that I use the whole avocado and 2 whole bananas at the same time.
Can Frozen Kale Be Used in Smoothies?
Another option to make your life easier is using frozen kale. I recommend removing the stems before freezing the kale leaves, as the stems are bitter in flavor and will affect the overall taste of your smoothie. (I save the leftover kale stems for juicing, instead.) You can store the whole leaves in an airtight container for up to 3 months in the freezer, and use them as needed.
How to Make the Best Kale Smoothie
The key to this smoothie is using a tropical mix of fruits, including mango, banana, and orange juice for a nice sweet and tart balance of flavors. I don’t like to combine kale with anything too mild in taste, or you will notice the kale too much! (For example, I’d never use kale in my Chocolate Avocado Smoothie.)
I use unpasteurized cold-pressed orange juice in my smoothies, which I buy at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. (I like getting cold-pressed juice because the heat of pasteurization may affect certain nutrients, like vitamins A and C.) If you have the time, you can squeeze your own orange juice, or use half of a large peeled orange in place of the orange juice, if you prefer to skip the juice all together.
Avocado adds creaminess to this smoothie, as well as satiating fats to help you feel full, but if you’re not an avocado fan you can add any other addition you like. A tablespoon of almond butter or ground flax seeds would work, too!
Here's how to make the best Kale Smoothie recipe. My kids call it green "ice cream" because it tastes so good! All you need is a few ingredients and about 5 minutes.
- 1/2 cup water (or milk of choice)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 frozen banana (peeled)
- 2 kale leaves (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 cup frozen mango chunks
- 1/4 avocado
Combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth. You may need top and scrape down the sides of the blender to help everything blend evenly. Pour into a glass and serve right away!
Note: If you do not have a powerful blender, I recommend blending the liquid and kale leaves first to help them break down before you add the frozen fruit.
Kale Smoothie Nutrition (for the whole batch): Calories: 293, Fat: 9g, Carbohyrdates: 56g, Fiber: 8g, Protein: 4g
- If you don’t care for bananas, try using 1 to 2 dates or 1/2 cup of frozen pineapple for sweetness instead. For a lower-sugar smoothie, you can omit the orange juice and replace it with water or almond milk.
- You can use any type of kale for this recipe. I use lacinato or “dino” kale most often, but green or red curly kale will work, too!
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below and let me know what you think! And if you make any substitutions, let me know how that works out, too. We can all benefit from your experience!
Reader Feedback: Do you like adding kale to smoothies? What’s your favorite way to eat it?