Swamp Smoothie (Or, Yes, You Can Put Broccoli into a Smoothie)

by Gena on May 3, 2012

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In photographs, this smoothie appears to be the pleasant color of a soy  latte. In reality, it was a much more offputting shade of swampy brown/green, which I tweeted about yesterday morning: “this smoothie looks like mud, but tastes amazing.” Or something to that effect.

It was true: in spite of the weird color, the smoothie was delicious. My readers must be used to fugly shades of smoothie, because everyone seemed to agree that sometimes the least appealing colors taste the best (this is what happens, I suppose, when you add darky leafy greens to everything). What seemed to surprise them, however, was the fact that one of the ingredients I’d listed in my smoothie was broccoli.

Yes, broccoli! Do you guys remember the days when even spinach in a smoothie gave me the creeps? I hate to quote from Virginia Slims, but when it comes to green smoothies, I’ve come a long way, baby. Not only do I now add spinach and chlorella to nearly every smoothie, but I’ve also started adding celery, zucchini, and now, broccoli.

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Oddly enough, of all the added green veggies out there—cucumber, celery, zucchini, and so on—I find broccoli to be the most palatable. I realized that I had a high tolerance for the taste when I started putting broccoli into my juices, and failed to notice a flavor change. The same goes for smoothies: adding frozen, steamed, or raw broccoli does little to change the flavor for me. The green veggies I truly struggle with are collard greens (too bitter, even in juice!) and—weirdly!—cucumber. I adore cucumber, and always put it into my blended salads, but for whatever reason, I don’t like it mixed with fruit.

The ways of the palate are mysterious.

Anyway, I had gotten into the habit of adding frozen broccoli to all of my smoothies, until Carrie wrote a post noting that frozen veggies should be at least flash steamed before serving; they’re not supposed to be eaten from the bag, and indeed, company manufacturers warn against the chance of food poisoning if they aren’t washed or heated first. Honestly? Since reading it, I’ve used frozen broccoli a few times, anyway; I am, after all, the person who routinely eats bagged and boxed greens without checking to see if I’m supposed to wash them first. But this is naughty, naughty behavior, and I do not recommend that you, my faithful readers, emulate my risk taking.

Instead, we should all try to use fresh or steamed broccoli in our smoothies. (And I’ll try to read the instructions on my salad boxes and bags, I promise.) If you really want the texture of frozen broccoli, try cooking it and then freezing it! But I think you’ll find that fresh is very similar to frozen in terms of taste. And I hope you’ll find that the taste itself is mild and largely undetectable beneath the heavenly mix of strawberry, banana, cacao, and hemp. Yum.

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The Swamp Smoothie (raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Serves 1

1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 small banana, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup chopped broccoli, steamed or raw
1 big handful raw spinach
1 cup almond or hemp milk
1 heaping tbsp cacao or carob powder
3 tbsp hemp protein powder (or vegan protein powder of choice)
1 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
Stevia to taste (if desired)

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender till smooth. Sip and enjoy!

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Creamy, smooth, and—I promise—delicious. Maybe not for someone who’s used to Jamba Juice, but if green smoothies are a regular part of your routine, I promise that the broccoli won’t be a make-or-break difference in this beverage. It’s green-tasting, sure, but just about as sweet and tasty as any other green smoothie. Plus, it’s packed with protein, healthy fatty acids, antioxidants, natural sugars, and the power of green.

Closing thought: so happy everyone liked yesterday’s vegan Bircher Muesli!

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One reader commented:

I’m most certainly going to try this! Thanks for being so innovative- this is hippie-chic. Muesli is the lazy girls granola!

I like these kinds of recipes, as with salads, because you can vary certain additions depending on the season and your own taste preference. A version using sprouted buckwheat groats would also be really good. I’m going to try both and report back!

Buckwheat groats would also be great! Though I do love the chew of rolled oats. I hope you report back and let us know how it goes. And in keeping with the sentiment about flexibility, I tried a different batch yesterday with grated pear instead of apple, and a little bit of ginger powder mixed in (ginger and pear is a favorite combo of mine). Not exactly seasonal, but it was fantastic. A whole new world of breakfast options awaits.

Till tomorrow, friends —

xo

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com May 3, 2012 at 8:34 pm

It sounds amazing! I learned that it’s possible to hide all kind of healthy veggies in a smoothie. I make mine with kale, pumpkin, jicama, cilantro, you name it. And my kids love them!

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Alex @ Raw Recovery May 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Getting a Vitamix changes everything :) I make all sorts of delicious smoothies and love that I can properly blend things now. And a glass Dharma straw just makes it that much better! I’ll have to try this!

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Laury May 3, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Gena, I have to say I never really get excited about new green smoothie recipes on blogs because I always think I come up with pretty decent combos on my own, rotating greens, etc. However. This is just a new avenue I have yet to go down! Thank you for always being so inventive! I love this, and I love that I can share this with my baby girl in the near future. She’s not a fan of broccoli…only pureed into recipes I make her like baby sliders and things. I am sure we will both enjoy this one..which reminds me…I have to get her a little glass dharma!

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janet @ the taste space May 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I agree, I am just itching to try this one, Gena! I am whipping out my Vitamix for this one! :)

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bitt May 3, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Not sure I can do it. Once I ruined a big batch of green juice with some broccoli stems and it felt wasteful. But I like the message of experimentation and not being so sure you will be able to tell if a certain veggie or green is in the smoothie or not if it’s masked with the right fruit. I would also say for people not to try broccoli, at least fresh, with a non high speed blender. I’ve also heard horror stories of newbies being turned off green smoothies forever from this!

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Gena May 3, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I definitely specified high speed blender! And I don’t love the stalks, but the florets, frozen? Perfecto :)

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Bitt May 3, 2012 at 11:45 pm

My parents forced too many frozen broccolis on me as a kid. It’s all their fault. Now I can’t even look at one. I’m ruined. Oh well kale is pretty good I think.

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Molly May 3, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I never wash my vegetables unless they have visible dirt on them. Actually, sometimes not even then. I know it’s a big no-no but I pretend I am building my immune system by exposing it to lots of varieties of bacteria… or something.

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Carrie (Carrie on Vegan) May 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Thanks for the shout-out Gena! I’ll forever be known as the food safety monitor of the blogging world. :) I did get an idea from a reader about a work around for frozen broccoli and that is to buy the pre-washed fresh broccoli florets (the ready to eat kind) and just throw them in the freezer. Since they are meant to be eaten out of the bag, they can be, well, eaten out of the bag, fresh OR frozen. Have a great Friday and weekend!

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Gena May 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Great suggestion! Thanks Carrie :)

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Valerie @ City|Life|Eats May 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I have bought fresh broccoli and frozen it using that very logic. It works well!

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HeathersCreativeConcoctions May 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Adding frozen broccoli is my new favorite thing in a smoothie. It is better than using just ice and you don’t even know it’s there! Love it!

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lauren May 3, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I love putting broccoli in my smoothies! I don’t like eating it in its original form, so this is a great way to still have it in my diet! Will have to try your recipe.

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Averie @ Averie Cooks May 4, 2012 at 12:35 am

There are two things that I do like, but not in smoothies. Broccoli and celery. They tend to just overpower the entire thing for me. Something about those two flavors and my taste buds can just sense them coming a mile away…but, if I did like broccoli in smoothies, yours is the prettiest one ever :)

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ela May 4, 2012 at 1:17 am

This sounds totally delectable! Yes, with a high-powered blender.

Now, have you started using zucchini in your desserts yet? :)
I’d never heard that about frozen foods either, and I put frozen veggies in my smoothies (or eat straight all the time!

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Helle May 4, 2012 at 2:43 am

This is awesome! My flatmates make soooooo much fun of me for making green smoothies. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when I casually add some broccoli to the mix :D

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Drisana (SoulShineBlog) May 4, 2012 at 2:47 am

Wow – I had no idea that you were not supposed to eat frozen veggies without steaming or cooking in some way! I put frozen spinach in smoothies all the time. I do usually wash my salad greens though ;)

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Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! May 4, 2012 at 4:58 am

mudslide-like smoothies always seem to taste the best! Plus I love putting broccoli in smoothies – some people say they can taste it, but I don’t notice it. Or maybe I just like it! I actually had broccoli in a smoothie for the first time at a random smoothie bar in a market in Copenhagen – and was hooked ever since.

Never knew that about frozen veggies, thanks! I admit, I’m guilty of the same thing when it comes to washing produce. oops.

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kate May 4, 2012 at 7:41 am

I have a complicated relationship with broccoli – I could eat pounds of it steamed and with your hemp protein dressing and lashings of kelp, but really struggle with it raw, except in juices where I find it sweet… Maybe I’ll be brave and try it raw in a smoothie.
Totally agree about using celery in smoothies, particularly with pears and greens – it adds a wonderful depth of flavour. How palates change – I used to loathe celery in all forms with a capital L – now I can’t get enough of it..

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Maggie May 4, 2012 at 7:57 am

You’re such a rebel Gena :) I might have to try this broccoli thing!

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Sara May 4, 2012 at 8:51 am

What a great idea….frozen brocoli. I always put something frozen in my smoothies to avoid having to use ice! Can’t wait to try it:)

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The Delicate Place (@misathemeb) May 4, 2012 at 9:37 am

whoa. this is next level green. i recently celebrated my 1 yr anniversary of vegan protein smoothies (whey was difficult to digest and i don’t like egg protein powders) so i went green: hemp! it took me a bit to get used to the taste but i found a much milder flavor in the manitoba harvest brand range. i might be brave enough to give it a try ;) happy weekend!

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Rhonda Smith May 4, 2012 at 9:41 am

This was awesome!!! I had it today for breakfast, very filling. I like that it has some veggies in it, instead of just fruit based. I used Agave instead of stevia. Thanks for the recipe!

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Nicholle May 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

I’ve stopped calling my concoctions “smoothies.” “Sludgies” seems like a more apt, though less appealing, moniker, especially when the colour is kind of funky.

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Amy @Health Hungry May 4, 2012 at 11:24 am

I have been stuck in a spinach rut for my green smoothies… broccoli here I come! Thanks for the recipe… I know how hard it is to convince people that it tastes good despite the strange color! ;)

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Lisa May 4, 2012 at 11:46 am

Wow, broccoli in a smoothie! I never would have thought of that and I have no idea how it would taste, but if it’s really true that you won’t detect the taste that much, then this is an awesome way to get some great extra nutrients into a smoothie. Very innovative!

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Frederika Maria May 4, 2012 at 11:52 am

Mmmmm will sure try it!

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elizabeth May 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I am another late comer to the green smoothie party. Loved green juice and loved fruit and superfood smoothies, but for some reason, combing the concepts took me a long time. Now I drink way more smoothies than juices, it’s easier to clean the vitamix than the juicer, and smoothies fill me up for the day, not half an hour. I started with baby spinach – still my favorite blending green – but I’ve made smoothies with cilantro, dandelion, chard (though never the stems), and even parsley. I do draw the line at broccoli. But then I hate broccoli. And the produce department is entirely too full to worry about icluding veggies I hate in my morning.

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Gena May 5, 2012 at 8:49 am

I love my brocc, but agree that there’s no point forcing oneself to love a vegetable. There are lots of them :)

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Nada (One Arab Vegan) May 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm

After seeing this today I tried broccoli in my juice today and it was totally undetectable! Freezing strawberries to try this tomorrow – thanks for awesome breakfast inspiration as of late Gena :)

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Emily May 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Gena, do you–or does anyone–have a particular hemp protein powder you would recommend? I’ve tried a flavored vanilla rice protein powder and was not such a fan, but I would like to branch out and try some protein powders for those days when I want a little extra boost!

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Gena May 5, 2012 at 8:46 am

I like Nutiva and Manitoba Harvest best. I’ll do another vegan protein powder post soon.

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Elizabeth May 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Can’t wait for your verdict on Vega One.

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Emily May 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Thanks! I appreciate you getting back with me and I’ll look forward to the post.

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Anonymous May 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Ooo I look forward to this post too. I saw sun warrior in the UK for the first time last week and am wondering if its worth splashing out or if a generic hemp/rice/pea protein is just as good (and cheaper). Have you tried Amazing Meal?

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Hannah May 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Oops didn’t mean to be anonymous!

Kelly @foodiefresh May 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I absolutely adore broccoli, but I have to ask — does it really taste good? I know, I know, you’ve assured us and I believe you when you say it tastes good (to you). But if spinach is all I’ve ever added to a smoothie, will the broccoli be off-putting or does it not change the flavor much like spinach?

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Gena May 5, 2012 at 8:45 am

Kelly, I really don’t taste it! Swear. Now, I’m me, and you’re you, so you should maybe start with just one or two florets and work from there. I wouldn’t want to lead you astray :)

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Kelly @foodiefresh May 5, 2012 at 9:35 am

You’ve convinced me. :) Definitely will have to give it a go.

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Cat @ Cat's Kitchen May 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Hahaha I’m so happy to hear I’m not the only one who doesn’t wash my veggies as a matter of habit!
In fact, the only veggies I do wash on a regular basis are broccoli and tomatoes! Broccoli because my mother drummed into me as I grew up, that broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies but that farmers have to use the strongest pesticides on it, so if you don’t wash it it does more harm than good eating it. Not sure about the accuracy of that statement but I diligently wash my broccoli. Tomatoes, because I can taste the difference when they’re washed!
I’ve been freezing zucchini for smoothies for a while now, but broccoli is new to me – can’t wait to try this now!

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Valerie @ City|Life|Eats May 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I like broccoli in juice. It adds a certain sweetness. I bet I would like it in smoothies. Must try this recipe.

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Eat Hike Sleep Repeat May 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Love this idea. I always feel like a bad vegan because I don’t really like greens (especially the darker ones). Spinach makes me sick to my stomach for some reason. I’ve been adding juiced kale to my smoothies and this is ok. But I can embrace the idea of brocolli!

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Shiana May 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm

mm what a lovely mix. I suggest fresh cucumber and apple juice. The sweetness of the apples totally overpowers the cucumber, its delicious. My sister isn’t too fond of them either.. I’m still trying to win her over (;

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Mom. Me. Three. May 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm

I am a total green smoothie lover, but have never considered adding broccoli. This sounds ah-mazing! I am so trying this tomorrow morning in place of my usual spinach/kale combo.

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Cat September 12, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Since reading this post I’ve finally tried broccoli in my smoothie: banana, orange, pinapple, chia seeds, coriander, mustard greens (gives it a bit of bite), broccoli. Nice! It seemed to really help thicken my smoothie too :)

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gina November 2, 2013 at 7:52 am

Just made it & love it! I actually added another handful of steamed broccoli!

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Gena November 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Glad you liked it!

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