They're quick, they're cool, and they're easy…
But the one thing I love most about smoothies??
I can pack a whole lotta nutrition into 1 cup!
Why Spinach In Smoothies?
Spinach is one power-packed green veggie that I love adding to smoothies.
It's rich in fiber, zinc, B vitamins, vitamins A and C, folate, calcium and more! Because it's high in flavonoids, it protects your body from free radicals, particularly in the colon. Spinach is also brain food! Studies show that it helps maintain brain function, mental clarity, and memory. (Source.)
Unlike kale, which tends to be bitter, spinach has a pretty neutral flavor and doesn't take away from the sweetness of my smoothie.
The Problem With Spinach In Smoothies
If spinach is so great, why go to the trouble of making spinach smoothie “pucks”?
Well, as nutrient-dense as spinach is, there's also a problem: oxalic acid/oxalates.
And spinach has lots of 'em.
Oxalates/oxalic acid are to spinach what phytates/phytic acid are to beans, grains, and seeds that haven't been traditionally prepared through soaking, sprouting, or sourdough. They interfere with mineral absorption by binding to the minerals in the food and preventing absorption.
Calcium is the particular mineral that the body can't absorb because of oxalates/oxalic acid in raw spinach.
“[A]lthough the calcium in spinach is 115 mg per half cup cooked, because of the interference of oxalic acid, you would have to eat more than 16 cups of raw or more than eight cups of cooked spinach to get the amount of calcium available in one cup of yogurt” (source).
What's the point in eating calcium-rich spinach if your body can't absorb the calcium?!
Steamed Spinach Smoothie “Pucks”
Because steaming spinach each and every time you want a smoothie is a pain, these Steamed Spinach Smoothie “Pucks” are super convenient! Plus, 1/3 cup of steamed spinach = approximately 1 full cup of raw spinach!
When you're ready to make a smoothie or my favorite Hippie Juice, you'll have pre-steamed spinach that's low in oxalates and much better for you than raw spinach!
Steamed Spinach Smoothie “Pucks”
Spinach is one power-packed veggie that I love adding to regular and green smoothies. There's just 1 problem: spinach has lots of oxalates. Here's how to lower oxalates and use spinach in smoothies without steaming it every time.
- 36 ounces washed, fresh baby spinach
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cookie sheet
- unbleached parchment paper
- 1/3 cup measuring cup
- Line cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
- Prepare to steam the spinach. I do not have a special steamer or steaming basket. I simply place a stainless steel colander inside of a larger pot with a bit of boiling water in the bottom. Nothing fancy, but it works!
- Place as much spinach as will fit into your steamer (or pot + colander over boiling water).
- Cover the spinach and steam for 1 minute.
- Remove from the heat.
- Pack the steamed spinach into the measuring cup.
- Flip it over and give it a tap onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. It should come out the same size and shape as the measuring cup.
- Continue to do this until all the spinach has been used.
- Place the cookie sheet into the freezer.
- Freeze 4 to 6 hours, or until the spinach is in solid “pucks”.
- Store in a zip-top bag in the freezer.
- Add 1 smoothie puck to any smoothie for a boost of good-for-you greens with lots of absorbable calcium!
Healthy Green Smoothies
Green smoothies are healthy — as long as you're not adding handfuls of raw greens to them.
Spinach isn't the only green veggie that's high in oxalates either. Swiss chard, kale, and beet greens also contain high amounts of oxalic acid. Use this same method for those greens, if you have an abundance that you'd like to add to your smoothies.
Check out these posts for more information about making healthy smoothies:
- Why We Steam Kale (and other leafy greens)
- How To Make A Healthy Smoothie: The Dos and Don'ts
- Healthy Smoothie DOs & DON'Ts Podcast
- 31 Healthy Smoothie Recipes
Do like spinach in smoothies? Have you ever thought about steaming ahead? Would you like to try these Steamed Spinach Smoothie “Pucks”?
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