Monday, August 8, 2016

5 Great Herbs for Smoothies

     A lot of people are always on the lookout for something life changing for their diets, something that will be tasty, nutritious, and easy to incorporate into a busy American lifestyle.  For me and many others, smoothies fit this description.  Smoothies are a great way to add an amazing amount of nutrients into a convenient, and often refreshing, snack.  One of my favorite things to do with smoothies is add in healthy herbs.  Herbs are full of great health benefits and they can also be a greatly flavorful edition to any food, including smoothies. 

    One of the things I do to incorporate herbs into my smoothies is herbal ice.  There are two main ways to make herbal ice, the first is very simple.  You just put the herbs in ice cube trays and add water before freezing.  You can chop the herbs, or just put them in whole.  Chopping the herbs will provide a greater amount of flavor than just using the whole herb so keep that in mind when you're experimenting.  The second is my preferred method and is also pretty simple, especially if you want to use a blend of herbs.  Make an herbal tea and freeze it.  How strong you make your tea will determine how intense the flavor of the ice will be.  A good ratio to begin with is 1 tablespoon of dried herb for each cup of water.  Just boil the water and pour it over the herbs, let sit for 30 or more minutes.  For ice I usually let my tea sit over night to extract all the wonderful goodness that those herbs can bring to my nutritional table.  It also will bring a greater intensity of flavor to my smoothies. 

    You can also just throw some herbs into your smoothie to blend, but I prefer to add the herbal ice because many nutrients will be more easily absorbed by our bodies that way, however I am not above adding a handful of herbs just for fun.


    This herb is infamous in the kitchen, but it also makes a great medicinal herb.  Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is packed full of nutrients, including vitamin K and manganese.  Basil is also a great herb for helping ease stomach problems including stomach cramps, gas, and improving the appetite.  It also helps to reduce inflammation, ease headaches, and ease the symptoms of the common cold.  There is an Indian basil called Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) which is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine for heart disease, stress, insect repellant, and malaria.  Tulsi tea is actually one of my favorite herbal teas for relaxing at the end of the day. 

    Basil's flavor goes well with all kinds of berries, citrus fruit, and other herbs in the lamiaceae family (mint, rosemary, thyme, etc).  I also like it with stone fruit, such as peaches, and with watermelon. 

Basil Blackberry Watermelon Smoothie

3 cups cubed watermelon (seeded and frozen)
2 cups blackberries
¼ cup pomegranate juice
2 ½ cups basil flavored ice

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust sweetness if desired (some good sweeteners to consider are honey, stevia, and turbanado sugar).


    The popularity of herbal teas has grown over the past few decades, and with it has grown the awareness of certain herbs.  Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has become one of the go-to herbs for most people’s tea drinking habits.  And why not?  It’s naturally sweet smelling, pleasant tasting, and calming to the senses.  It’s so calming in fact that some people can’t drink it or they will fall asleep.  This herb has been popular since the days of Egypt, Greece, and Rome.  Even in the Middle Ages, people looked to chamomile to help cure many of the health conditions of the day.  Today it is still used as a sleep aid, a treatment for fevers, colds, stomach upset, and as an anti-inflammatory.  It’s used to help with teething babies, as a wash to lighten hair, to help with morning sickness during pregnancy, and to help hasten the healing of wounds.  The uses for chamomile are many and varied, which make it a great addition to a daily routine.  It does come with two major cautions though.  First, be aware that chamomile affects certain people more strongly than others and don’t plan on operating any heavy machinery after consuming it.  Second, it is related to ragweed and a few people with ragweed allergies might have a histamine response to chamomile as well.

    Chamomile is fairly sweet so it goes well with just about every fruit, though it is particularly tasty with the tangy citrus fruits.  It also pairs well with other herbs such as lavender, mint, and lemongrass. 

Strawberry Chamomile Smoothie

5 cups strawberries
¼ cup orange juice
2 ½ cups chamomile flavored ice

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust sweetness if desired (some good sweeteners to consider are honey, stevia, and turbanado sugar).


    The past handful of years I have seen several friends go through pregnancy and deal with things like morning sickness.  Almost universally, they all seem to reach for one thing when they feel sick and that is ginger.  Whether it is ginger candy or ginger tea, it’s very well known for easing the stomach and being gentle enough for use during pregnancy.  Ginger (Zingiber officinale) isn’t just useful for your stomach though.  Throughout the years it has been used in many situations.  Its warmth is well known and useful for boosting circulation, lowering blood pressure, as an anti-viral, and as an anti-inflammatory.  This makes it one of the best things for colds and flus and has been researched extensively for use in dealing with arthritis, fever, headache, toothache, and preventing blood clots.  This brings to mind one warning that comes with ginger, if you are preparing to go in for a surgery please don’t consume any ginger beforehand as it may cause problems with blood flow during the surgery. 

    Ginger’s warmth goes great with creamy textures like yogurt and bananas, also with other warming spices such as cinnamon.  It also goes really well with citrus, apples, pumpkin, and many other fruits. 

Orange Ginger Smoothie

4 cups orange slices
1 cup avocado
2 teaspoons orange zest
¼ cup coconut water
2 ½ cups ginger flavored ice

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust sweetness if desired (some good sweeteners to consider are honey, stevia, and turbanado sugar).

Green Tea

    Green tea has always been a staple in my home and is one of my favorite comfort drinks.  It is also packed full of amazing nutrients like antioxidants.  Antioxidants have been getting a lot of publicity in recent years, they have been found to have major health benefits, the least of which include preventing cancers.  Green tea (Camellia sinesis) is also known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, combat fatigue, regulate blood sugar levels, and increase metabolism.  This makes it great for losing weight and a wonderful tea for diabetics. 

    Green tea goes well with vanilla, mint, rosemary, lavender, tropical fruits, citrus, and quite a few other fruits as well.

Tropical Green Tea Smoothie

2 cups pineapple
1 ½ cups papaya
1 ½ cups mango
¼ cup coconut Milk
2 ½ cups green tea flavored ice

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust sweetness if desired (some good sweeteners to consider are honey, stevia, and turbanado sugar).

Lemon Balm

    As its common name suggests, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) has a lemony flavor and is soothing to the nerves.  It comes from the same family as mint, rosemary, lavender, and basil.  This amazing herb is used for quite a few things including soothing the nerves, sleeping problems, and menstrual cramps.  It also helps to relax stomach, uterine, and bladder muscles which make it ideal to relieve gas, cramps, and nausea.  It has also been shown to help increase mental clarity by reducing stress and insomnia.  Lemon balm is a great herb for almost everyone.  The one caution I have about this herb is concerning hypoactive thyroid conditions.  Lemon balm reduces production of the thyroid hormones, aggravating these conditions. 

    With its lemony flavor, lemon balm goes great with just about every fruit out there.

Peachy Lemon Balm Smoothie

3 cups peaches
2 cups banana
¼ cup lemon juice
2 ½ cups lemon balm flavored ice

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust sweetness if desired (some good sweeteners to consider are honey, stevia, and turbanado sugar).

    In trying these recipes, I found a good basic ratio that works.  Feel free to play around with it and have fun.  Smoothies are really easy to adjust to your own tastes.  My ratio is 5 cups of fruit, ¼ cups liquid, and 2 ½ cups of ice.  You can add in all kinds of powders, seeds, nuts, and dried fruits to your smoothies and I encourage you to do so.  Nouveau Raw has posted a good flavor pairing list that may help with flavor combinations.  Have fun and feel free to post any favorite recipes you come up with in the comments below!

Annies Remedies:
Herb Wisdom:
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Greetings from the Bat Lady!

     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...