I’m sharing my Green Sunshine smoothie recipe with you all today because it’s a special occasion: Fairtrade Month!
Now, please understand that when I say this is a recipe, it’s a loose definition of the term. Perhaps a more accurate word would be a formula, for instance, where you can customize your smoothie to what you have on hand and what mood you’re in. And I love formulae, don’t you? 🙂
The reason I call it this smoothie Green Sunshine is because when you make it as written, it tastes super tropical and delicious. There are few smoothie combinations I love more than pineapple, spinach and banana. And it’s a great way to have a sweet, refreshing treat in the summer!
Oh yeah, and I wasn’t kidding when I included green in the name of this smoothie! If you use spinach and pineapple as the main ingredients, it’s definitely going to be a beautiful yellowish-green colour. But the nice thing is: you don’t have to! I’ve made this smoothie with berries or mango instead of pineapple, for example, and it’s also super delicious.
So let’s get into what you’ll need for your Green Sunshine smoothie!
Fairtrade certified bananas
If you can get fair trade bananas, please do! There is a long and horrifying history of worker exploitation, indigenous displacement and political upheaval in the banana industry, which I won’t get into too much detail about here, but it’s bad. Trust me, it’s really bad. If reading about that kind of thing is your jam (you know it’s mine!), I highly recommend Banana: the fate of the fruit that changed the world by Dan Koeppel.
But back onto bananas, here’s what I do. When I come across fair trade bananas, I get lots of them. Like, lots and lots of them. And bananas don’t keep very long at the optimal ripeness, do they? So you might be wondering, “Why would you want 4 bunches of bananas at once?” And the answer is that 3 or 4 days after you buy those green beauties in the store, they’re going to be yellow. After that, they’re going to be yellow with spots starting to form. And that’s when they’re perfect. Just like in the photo above—totally yellow with some brown starting in.
This is the optimal smoothie banana!
So now you might be saying, “OK, cool, Lia, but why did we need 4 BUNCHES AT ONCE?!” And I hear you. But what if I told you that the actual optimal smoothie banana was frozen? That’s right, you’re going to peel all those beauties, cut them in half and stick them in the freezer. Then, when you’re ready to make a smoothie, just pop one or two halves out and you’re good to go!
Now you can enjoy smoothies all summer. You’re welcome! 😉
Fair trade pineapples
OK, I’ll admit that finding fair trade pineapples is a bit harder. But if you can find them, you can stock up again like above (with the bananas)! As far as I know, you can get pineapples in IGA in Quebec. We’re lucky in Ottawa, because Quebec is just over the river and we visit regularly (well, at least we do when there isn’t a pandemic going on). If you’re not able to find fair trade pineapples, I’m sorry. I suppose a foul trade one will suffice.
But in any case: once you have your pineapple, chop that bad boy up. Once it’s cut into chunks, lay them out on a cookie sheet or something flat like that. Now it’s time to put the pineapple in the freezer! It’ll usually take a few hours for the fruit to freeze solid enough that you can take them off the tray and stick them in a freezer bag or bin for longer-term storage.
We use this method all the time when we find fruit on that sad grocery rack. You know the one I mean, right? The one where the peaches have a part of their skin that’s turning that dingy brown colour? Where the berries are at least as fuzzy as the peaches? And there are apples so soft you can juice them right there in the grocery aisle? That rack. When there’s something that’s on its last legs but still got a little life left in it, I stock up on that stuff and freeze it. It’s a perfect way to have smoothie fruit all summer long. (It helps you save money and food waste, too!)
Technically, you can use fresh pineapple for this smoothie, too. But if you use frozen pineapple, it kind of makes it taste like sorbet and why the heck wouldn’t you want that?!
You can’t get fair trade spinach, but you can get it local! This is a great product to buy from the farmer’s market early in the season! Greens like spinach and lettuce are some of the first crops that your local farmers will have ready. And so it’s a good opportunity to support them and get some awesome nutrients into your smoothie, too!
By the time you pulverize it, you won’t know the difference between baby and adult spinach. That’s why I don’t bother buying baby spinach specifically for smoothies, personally. (It’s typically more expensive than full-grown spinach.) But I do sometimes find I already have baby spinach in my fridge for making salads. So in those cases, I just use the baby spinach.
Because they’re naturally so sweet, medjool dates are an excellent sugar substitute! You can buy fair trade medjool dates, and they’re included in this recipe in case you have an extra-sour pineapple, for example. In many cases, as long as the banana was really ripe, it’ll make the smoothie sweet enough. But just in case, you can have the dates at the ready!
I also love using dates in cases where I’m changing the recipe up and adding something more sour or bitter. One of my favourite things to do is to remove the pineapple altogether and add a couple Tablespoons of cacao nibs! This gives your smoothie a kind of brown colour, but that’s OK. You know why? Because this also gives you a chocolate milkshake flavour profile and it’s so good! But because the cacao is so much more bitter than the pineapple, the dates are necessary to sweeten the smoothie.
What kind of blender do I need to make green smoothies?
Honestly, it should really just have a solid motor. Green smoothies can be hard on blenders, because you want to blend them until the spinach leaves are chopped really small. So your mini food chopper or immersion blender probably won’t be up to the task! If you cook lots and enjoy smoothies, I’d recommend investing in a proper blender that has the ability to crush ice. As long as it can crush ice, it should be able to handle most smoothies!
Personally, I use a mid-range bullet blender (the Nutri-Bullet), if you’re wondering. I regularly use it to purée soups and sauces, as well as making smoothies. It works well for what I need. 🙂
The Green Sunshine smoothie isn’t especially hard on blenders, in my experience. But if you use the ice substitute (see recipe notes below), that’s harder on blenders than frozen fruit. The natural sugars in fruit keep them from freezing rock solid, so they’re not as hard as ice cubes.
Green Sunshine smoothie recipe
Enough chit-chat, amirite? Let’s get into the actual recipe!
Green sunshine smoothie
- Good-quality blender
- 1 ea banana, frozen (fair trade!)
- 1 cup spinach leaves, packed
- 1 cup frozen pineapple (fair trade!)
- 1/2 cup almond milk (or other milk), or water *
- (optional) 1-2 ea medjool dates, pitted (fair trade!) **
- If you're starting with fresh fruit, it's recommended to clean a cut the fruit, freeze it in a single layer and then bag it up for smoothie use. The frozen fruit really makes the consistency great (like a slushie or sorbet)!
- To make the smoothie, place all ingredients in the blender and blend until very smooth. If too thick, add a little more milk and blend further to reach the desired consistency. Pour into glasses and enjoy!
What is your favourite fruit combination to use in your smoothies? Be sure to let us know in the comments, so that we can join in the delicious fun!