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After making a 'batch' of green smoothies, what is generally considered an appropriate serving size?

Thanks for the question, Gary!? I don't think I can give an across-the-board answer to fit everyone, since we're all so wonderfully different. The answer would have to take into consideration various factors, such as:

  • the caloric requirements of the smoothie drinker (which itself is a function of how active that person is, how much that person weighs, that person's health goals, etc.);
  • the size of the person's stomach;
  • the specific smoothie recipe we're talking about;
  • what else that person is consuming in a given day, and how those other calories dovetail with the smoothie.

Smoothies (green ones, or even just fruit ones) can range wildly in caloric content, depending on the ingredients used. For example, let's take a look at my own dinner from last night. I happen to have had a super-tasty green smoothie, heavy on the fruit, which is actually a favorite meal for me!? Here's what it contained:

  • Two oranges (122 calories)
  • Kale, 2 cups, chopped (67 calories)
  • Strawberries, 1.5 cups, frozen (125 calories)
  • Medjool dates, 3, pitted (200 calories)
  • Grapes, 1/2 cup (55 calories)
  • Cacao nibs, 1/2 ounce, raw (65 calories)
  • Lemon wedge (2 calories)
  • Banana (half), (50 calories)
  • Vitamineral Green powder (45 calories)
  • Spirulina, 1/2 tablespoon (10 calories)
  • Ginger root, < 1 in. slice (2 calories)
  • One vanilla bean (not sure on the calories)
  • About 1 tsp. Vitamin C powder (not sure on the calories)
  • Gogi berries, 1 Tbsp. (22 calories)
  • Water, about 1/2 cup (0 calories)

Total calories: ~ 765+!

Wow, I didn't realize that smoothie was approaching the 1,000 calorie barrier. No wonder it fills me up so much!? As you can see, those Medjool dates really ramp up the calories quickly. If I took them out and replaced them with another lower-calorie fruit or something, I could substantially reduce the caloric content of this smoothie!

Plus, there are certainly people who perfer a "greener" (less fruity) green smoothie. So, you might try incorporating some cucumber (which would probably mean taking out some things like the dates and the cacao, which I can't see going well with cuke).

And, by the way, let me also take this opportunity to say that the recipe above really IS a super-tasty smoothie. I've been working on it for some time now (months), very patiently -- tweaking little things here and there in true mad-scientist fashion. The beauty, as Frank Lloyd Wright said, is in the details (all of which I have not divulged, such as my preference for running the cacao nibs in a coffee grinder first -- before ever pouring them into the Vitamix container! -- and maybe a few secrets I'm not yet ready to air here yet!).

But, let me at least let you know that the combination of that ginger square and the vanilla bean is nothing short of divine. There's a playful interaction created there by those two particulars that's too wonderful to keep to myself. That's why I will eventually call this the "Samadhi Smoothie," as it calls to mind:

a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object (see here).

I'm really getting personal here, I realize. But, I do get that excited about this smoothie! (I'm a little fanatical sometimes...) I imagine within a year or two, I'll have it perfected. (Stop by sometime... I'll make us one to share!)

Anyway, a smoothie like that usually produces about 28-30 ounces. I know this because I have yet another kind of weird smoothie quirk that I'll divulge here (hinted at in the graphic atop this piece):? I always love to drink my smoothie from an old Bubbies Sauerkraut jar. I have no idea why, really... I guess the jar just makes a fun glass for me. It's just the perfect size, you know !

That jar is 25 ounces, and there's usually a good 3-4 more ounces in the Vitamix. For ME, that portion is a really nice meal. I'm usually good to go, and totally energized, after drinking one. So, that's kind of a long-winded, very subjective answer. But, for a guy like me, a 25+ ounce smoothie is a good single-serving portion.

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On November 10, 2009, Joanna_Steven wrote:

My smoothies are always at least 20 oz. My hubby thinks it's too much, so sometimes I give him less and take his share (more for me! though I do want him to drink it all). I drink my green juices in a pitcher now, it's a bit awkward, but I can't find glasses that are big enough =/

On November 10, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Raw foodies face the weirdest "issues"... Who'd have thought that finding large enough glasses would be a problem (especially in this super-sized day and age!)? Try a large jar. I fully recommend a Bubbies jar, just because it's so weird.

On November 10, 2009, Lizard wrote:

I like big jars too. BPA-free Nalgene bottles are good for smoothies on the go, but the fruit will really gum up the cap and thread after awhile.
Most smoothies I make are close to a liter, but I don't always drink them all at once.

On November 10, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Yeah a nice liter is about right for me, too. Especially for a lighter one. The smoothie I described above is pretty "thick" & really sits like a meal.

On November 10, 2009, Gary_C wrote:

Thanks again Jim, I guess two of the reason I asked I forgot to mention initially & they are 1) a concern for the sugar content since "things" are concentrated ( I usually include 2 fruits or so in my Smoothies, and 2). once a smoothy is made & you have some leftover (sometimes I have quite a bit) how long to the enzyme & vitamins remain active & viable before they start to break down..even if refrigerated? Gary

On November 10, 2009, KristensRaw wrote:

Hhhmmm... I love green smoothies - big or small. :)

On November 11, 2009, Kandy wrote:

I do blended salad smoothies (the only fruit is lemon) and I usually can get two quart jars depending on if I think it quite a bit or leave it thick. I am full from this and I have no I just know that I have given my body good nutrition. As I am a diabetic using insulin I tend to stay away from the fruit smoothies and eat my fruits whole.

On November 11, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

1. The whole "sugar" issue is really very complex, and also controversial. I would recommend reading Gabriel Cousens Rainbow Green book, and then reading Doug Graham's 80-10-10 book -- and then seeing what kinds of things stand out for you. I believe we're all unique, and that not one specific raw regimen is necessarily best for others. So, if you *have* sugar issues (candida, diabetes), you'll probably gravitate toward Dr. Cousen's work. If not, you may like Dr. Graham's ideas on the topic. For me, I can eat a ton of fruit. Having two fruits in a smoothie sounds perfectly reasonable to me, personally. In fact, I will often have more than that. Plus, you're not concentrating anything, you're just blending them up. So, it's really like simply eating those two fruits that you mention.

2. Ideally, you would make a smoothie and then drink it immediately (or, at least, very soon). However, it's quite common for raw foodies to store smoothies. I know many people who make a big smoothie in the morning, and then drink the rest later for lunch (or even dinner). Others make a smoothie at night and then drink it in the morning. In truth, there is some nutrient loss. Things start to oxidize after you make the smoothie. But, it's also a function of the specific ingredients used. For example, citrus oxidizes more slowly than, say, bananas or coconut water. As a general recommendation, I think you're perfectly okay to store them up to a day (with any reduced health benefit being negligible) -- maybe two if you really need to. But it's really optimal to drink them as freshly made as possible. Most of the time, you can only get a little over a liter out of a Vitamix, anyway. So, storage really shouldn't ever really be a problem.

On November 11, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Me too! :-)

On November 11, 2009, Jim Dee wrote:

Thanks, Kandy- Yeah, this is what I was getting at, above. I think Dr. Cousens makes it pretty clear that, IF you do have sugar issues, you do need to pay a lot more attention to fruit consumption in general. Has your diabetes improved w/ raw? And, have you seen the Simply Raw documentary? Just wondering your experiences / reactions.

On November 11, 2009, Gary wrote:

Thanks Jim for the info, I suspected as much regarding the gradual oxidation of "the mix" and that in general the "sooner rather than later rule' would apply in respect to smoothy consumption...

In respect to "Gabriel Cousens Rainbow Green book," I just got it about a month ago and haven't had a chance to crack it open yet, as Im still reading the book "The Raw Foods Diet: the vital gift of enzymes" by Jim Karas & Carolyn Griesse & my other recent purchase "Green for Life" by Victoria Bountenko.

While I'm not diabetic etc, I do have a lot of weight to lose, & am less active now that we're in the snow & rainy season here in Western OR., as you are there in PA and was curious if... less activity + a fair amt of sugar each day (from fruit & vegie smoothies) might not = putting on a few extra pounds instead of losing them if one doesnt burn off sufficient sugar calories daily...

Also I do think, that since I'm blending up more fruit & vegies than I would actually eat in a single sitting, and because it is all mushed up better (& therefore making the food easier to metabolize & digest) than how I normally chew up my food, that I am getting a more concentrated serving in me even if it's only 16-20 oz's at a time, I dunno, perhaps I'm wrong... Thanks again & hopefully I'm not asking or being curious about totally silly issues here... Gary

On November 11, 2009, annhuntington wrote:

Sure is alot of ingredients in 1 smoothie!!

On November 11, 2009, Kandy wrote:

Jim, I was having great success with the green blended salad smoothies (and I LOVE them)...sugars were stablized, I've lost 25 lbs and cut way back on my insulin. I went to work in September and my world has been turned upside down...I have no specific lunch time and it has been very hard to keep on track. I am trying to get back on and taking green smoothies to work...There is much satisfaction with eating this way. The benefits are absolutely OUTSTANDING!!!!!

On November 12, 2009, jprostko wrote:

Jim addressed your concerns fairly well, but I did want to mention something that I often put in my smoothies. (Somehow I forgot to mention it in my "kitchen sink" smoothie a few blog entries back.) That ingredient is Patrick Flanagan's MegaHydrate.

Basically, I often throw one capsule of that in each smoothie when I have it around (two capsules if I won't be having the smoothie for a long time). If you have the time/money/inclination, you can compare a smoothie with MegaHydrate to one without. Letting each one sit out for a day or two, it is obvious that the one with MegaHydrate prevents oxidation fairly well compared to the one without.

It is good to use MegaHydrate even if you drink a smoothie on the spot though, as it makes sure a lot more of the nutrition makes it to more of your cells. Like Jim said, oxidation starts happening from the get-go when you make a smoothie, so ideally you'd down it as quickly as possible. MegaHydrate does give you some leeway though that you most likely wouldn't have otherwise.

Basically, MegaHydrate is an antioxidant that even puts raw cacao to shame in its power. Depending on whether or not you're okay with supplementing anything though, using it may or may not be something you want to entertain. I figured I'd throw it out there as something to look into though.

If it does intrigue you, you may want to investigate a product called H Minus as well, although I haven't tried it. I think it's essentially the same thing though, just the powder isn't encapsulated. It also seems more cost-effective.

On November 12, 2009, Gary wrote:

Hi & thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts & experience with me, I will definitely check out MegaHydrate. Hopefuly in time as my health improves & the weight comes off, & I get better in making smoothies and going Raw in general, I can escape from some of the poisonous meds I'm taking.......Gary