Spinach? In a Smoothie?!

By Ashley Packer, Dietetic Intern, Sargent Choice Nutrition Center

As an intern working with Sargent Choice, one of my responsibilities was to come up with new smoothie recipes for the Late Night Café. Previously, the smoothies were made with a small amount of frozen fruit and soft serve mix….sounds more like a milk shake to me! My goal was to re-do the smoothie recipes to make them fit into the Sargent Choice Guidelines while still making them taste delicious. I came up with ten different smoothie recipes, mixing everything from classic strawberry-banana, tangy pineapple raspberry, and even a couple recipes including raw baby spinach!


We were unsure of how students would react to a spinach smoothie, so we decided to test one of them at breakfast during freshmen orientation. We tried our “Purple Power” smoothie, which was made using spinach, frozen blueberries, fresh banana, nonfat plain yogurt, and orange juice. Just looking at the smoothie you wouldn’t be able to tell there was spinach in it.

Purple power smoothie

(Check out the Purple Smoothie on the bottom…..can you tell there is spinach?)


We were testing out our Purple Power smoothie (recipe HERE) and our Berry-Mango smoothie (recipe HERE) at the same orientation breakfast to get some feedback. We started out by telling the students what was in both of the smoothies.  Many would reach for the purple smoothie, and as soon as they heard “spinach,” they retracted their hands as fast as possible and decided to go with the berry-mango instead.

Seeing this reaction, we decided to try a new tactic. We asked everyone to test both of the smoothies and guess the “secret ingredient” in our purple power smoothie ( and of course we asked about allergies first). We got everything from bananas to protein powder, but nobody guessed spinach. When we told them that the secret ingredient was, in fact, the leafy green that they often avoided as children, they were amazed! In our survey result, our purple power smoothie received a 4 out of 5 for both taste and texture.

blending smoothiestudentsstudents2

So why did we decide to put spinach in a smoothie? As suggested in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, fruits and vegetables need to be increased in our diets. While smoothies are a great source of fruit, they rarely include vegetables. Therefore, we figured this would be a great opportunity to create delicious smoothies that use both fruits and vegetables. Our “Purple Power” smoothie, which will be served at BU’s late night café in the fall, includes one whole banana, a half cup of blueberries, and one whole cup of spinach. You get one and a half servings of fruit and one serving of vegetables all in one smoothie, and you can’t even taste the vegetables! Although the smoothie doesn’t have a vegetable taste, it still packs the health benefits associated with spinach. Spinach is packed with antioxidants, vitamin K, iron, and folate. It also provides some calcium and magnesium for bone health . . . perhaps this is why one student suggested we name our smoothie the “Triple Deluxe Antioxidant Ninja”!

Many thanks to BU Dining Services for helping us out with our smoothie tasting!


Alyssa Langer posted on August 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I’ve tried an avocado smoothie (made with apples and cucumbers) and it was delicious. Just a suggestion!

Blendtec Blender posted on August 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I put spinach in all the smoothies we make for the kids. They are none the wiser and I know they are getting some good veggies!

Carrie | Eastbay Coupon Codes posted on September 27, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Interesting choice. May even try this for myself. I have heard of avocados too but never spinach.

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Josie posted on April 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm

spinach is vegetable which is a rich source of zinc and also a very good source of protein, vitamin A (good for your eyes!), vitamin C (immune defence system), vitamin E , calcium, iron (Popeye!), Magnesium and much much more

nando posted on July 31, 2012 at 4:04 am

that’s a good way to trick children to eat vegetables in some favorite drinks, especially for those who dislike any vegetables such spinach. thanks for this helpful info…

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