My Morning Zero Waste Green Smoothie
About a month or so ago, I realized I wasn’t getting enough fresh produce in my diet. I wanted to eat more kale and other fruits and vegetables. And I figured blending a whole bunch of things together in a smoothie every morning would be fast, easy, and painless. But despite the Ecology Center’s instructions for storing produce without plastic , I couldn’t manage to keep kale from turn yellow before I could eat the entire bunch. I was avoiding plastic waste but producing food waste!
And then, one morning on the bus, it hit me: I wonder if you could freeze kale. I Googled “how to freeze kale” and bingo, there were instructions. I just had to figure out how to do it without Ziploc bags.
First, I washed and spun the kale and then cut it into pieces and laid them out on a tray in my freezer to freeze individually so they wouldn’t stick together after I put them all together in a container. (This step is especially necessary if you steam your kale first to destroy goitrogens in cruciferous vegetables. And the same goes for oxalates in spinach.)
My substitute for Ziploc bags? Life Without Plastic’s airtight glass containers or airtight stainless containers. They work great. Pack the kale in pretty tightly. As long as you’re eating it within a week or so, you don’t have to worry about freezer burn. I haven’t experimented to see how long it will last this way. But frozen raw kale is great in a smoothie.
So, here’s how I put my smoothie together without packaging waste:
- Farmers market fruit without sticker or packaging. I vary my fruit choices seasonally.
- Revive kombucha. Revive is a Bay Area company that sells live kombucha in returnable glass bottles that they refill. Kombucha tastes great in the morning and is great for the digestive system.
- Nuts and seeds bought from Whole Foods bulk bins in my own glass jars. To reduce the stress on my blender and produce a smoother smoothie, I soak my nuts and seeds overnight and store them in glass jars in the freezer. Plus, there is some thought that soaking reduces enzyme inhibitors in the skins that impede absorption of nutrients in nuts.
- Frozen kale or other leafy green vegetable
I put the first 5 ingredients in the blender
and blend for about 2 minutes.
Then I add the kale from the hole in the rubber lid and keep blending for about another 3 minutes so it’s really smooth.
Then pour and drink it down.
Cleaning up is super easy because I have the best blender ever. The glass pitcher and blade mechanism are all one piece, so there’s nothing to unscrew and no plastic in contact with my food. Just rinse it out immediately and its ready for the next day.
What blender is that, you ask? Patience. I’ll write about that in another post.
I have a big garden, and a chest freezer which I fill every year with the food we harvest. I can much of it, but many foods just hold up better if frozen. Glass isn’t practical for all of that produce. I have been reusing my plastic bags, and some of them are 5 years old. This reduces plastic in the landfill, but I’ve read reusing bags is even more toxic. Any suggestions for a practical alternative to freezing foods for a big freezer? Thanks!
Hi Elaine. Nowadays, favorite way to freeze produce is in large airtight stainless steel containers like these: https://myplasticfreelife.com/2013/12/my-favorite-useful-airtight-stainless-steel-kitchen-container/ They come in lots of different sizes and are emminently stackable. They are expensive but will last a lifetime.
Jessica, I also posted a blog specifically about the blender this week.
Connie, here’s the link:
Shirley Conlon Organics, it’s kale. The recipe is in the link above the image.
Melissa, I haven’t had it long — only a few weeks — but my friend Mark has had his for a couple of years I think. I read some of those reviews too and didn’t really understand them. One review said the thing moved all over the counter when it was running. Mine doesn’t. It’s solid and heavy and stays put. You don’t have to hold it steady. Other people said they can’t make smoothies with it. I’ve been making nothing but smoothies. Maybe they were trying to make smoothies without adding any liquid. I include a cup of kombucha in my smoothie, and it blends just fine. It’s not instantaneous. I turn it on and let it go while I clean up the apple cores and put away my ingredients. It goes for maybe 4-5 minutes. I really love it — but I don’t expect miracles from it.
Cool! I’d been reading the reviews for that blender and it sounded like the quality had gone down. I look forward to reading your review. Does it say how long you’ve had it?
What greens are in this smoothie? looks good. Avocado?
cant wait to hear about the blender..
cspellerin Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator Found it, thank you!
Thanks for the info. I am using it pretty quickly, but for something long term, I will blanch.
Personally, that would be too much blending for me… blending the kale and then blending the smoothie. I’d rather blend everything all at once.
How about blending it and freezing it in small portions, say ice cube size, then pop a few in your smoothie when needed? Do you think this would be an okay method?
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator cspellerin That’s weird. I’m not computer savvy so I don’t know how to change that, but if you Google something like “blanching vegetables for freezing” there’s a lot of information that comes up. I freeze a lot from my garden and I keep a chart for how long each needs to be blanched (timing is important). Green peppers seem to do OK with no blanching, but I’ve ruined a bushel’s worth of sweet corn by not blanching the right amount (tricky on the cob).
cspellerin Thank you for the information. The link you provided is redirecting to Beth’s page. Can you try re-posting the link?
Random Cathy Glad you are enjoying the tips on the blog and just changing one behavior can make a huge impact.
A lot of vegetables need to be blanched (boiled for a short time) before freezing so that enzymes in the plant are deactivated. If you are using it within a week or two from the freezer, maybe it’s OK to freeze without blanching, but I wouldn’t go for long term freezer storage without blanching.
I’m so grateful for these tutorials. I still use a lot of plastic and am trying to change by flipping one small behavior at a time. This is cool.
Kale does’t stick around long in my house (my 12-year old veggie hater devours this) when I crisp it in the oven or dehydrate it. Wash and pat kale dry (or spin it in a salad spinner), sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt, onion & garlic powder. Put in 300 deg. oven until wilted and crispy or as desired. My oven is convection so I can actually dehydrate in it. I use the same recipe but set the temp. at 100 degrees. Takes a few hours but nice, crispy kale chips. If you don’t eat them all (they rarely last in my house) you can put in a glass or stainless airtight container and they will stay crispy. Enjoy!
Thanks for the recipe. Since you mentioned “salad spinner,” you might be interested in today’s blog post comparing different plastic-free salad spinning methods. :-) https://myplasticfreelife.com/2013/11/a-tale-of-two-plastic-free-salad-spinners/
@KB Yea I can’t wait to try this out too. I love green smoothies!
THANK YOU for posting about how to freeze kale. I have been wanting to eat more, but it was spoiling before I could finish a bag of it. I am going to try freezing so I can add it to my morning smoothies.