“Learning to watch my diet in a healthy way that was quick and easy was what I was looking for,” she says, and she found it in green drinks—juices and smoothies packed with leafy nutrition. “You certainly don’t need any cooking skills. Everyone can use a blender, and everybody can use a juicer,” she says.
The trouble is falling into a green juice rut, where every morning starts with the same kale-apple blend, and your taste buds get super bored (so they start asking for donuts). So, Kumai used her culinary training and experience to write a book full of tips and recipes, Clean Green Drinks, to help you avoid that very scenario.
And one strategy is super simple: stop using kale as a crutch and start to take advantage of the natural variety the world of greens offers. Here are a few of her tips on how to use new greens in your juices and smoothies:
1. Grab spinach by the handful. “Baby spinach is all-around is the most commonly used green because it’s easy to use,” Kumai says. “One handful is one cup.” You grab it and throw it in the blender or juicer, it’s easy clean up, and its flavor is mild, which is great for green drink newbies (and kids). It doesn’t yield much juice, however, so it’s a better choice for smoothies.
2. Add citrus. If you do choose spinach, add some lemon or orange to the blend. The citrus juices will boost your body’s absorption of the many amazing nutrients (like iron) in the green. Bonus: Lemon also makes the flavor of blueberries really pop!
3. Reconnect with romaine and red leaf lettuce. Both of these greens, popular in salads but rare in drinks, yield a lot of liquid, so they’re great for juicing. And they’re packed with important vitamins and minerals, like calcium and vitamins A and C.
4. Experiment with arugula. Ever seen a juice or smoothie with it listed as an ingredient? Probably not. So, be bold. You can substitute it for spinach in any recipe. “It’s my favorite salad and flatbread topping,” Kumai says, “and arugula is also simple to juice and blend.”
5. Be bitter. With your greens, that is. Bitter greens like dandelion greens are known as nutritional heavy hitters that help with liver detoxing and seriously radiant skin. Which are two reasons you’re probably drinking a juice in the first place, right? Kumai suggests juicing them with sweet fruits or blending them with bananas to balance out the flavor. —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, check out Clean Green Drinks