Moringa, Spirulina, Chlorella, Kelp; they're all powerful green powders found in just about every health food store these days. They're packed with a ton of nutrients, they're full of minerals and vitamins and everything else your body needs. It's like a natural multivitamin, but it covers far more than just what a vitamin covers.
There's just one problem: they're very potent little green powders. They have a strong flavor, very green, very vegetal, and in many cases very bitter. On their own, they're mostly unpalatable. Mixed in smoothies or shakes, they stand out. It can be difficult to stand consuming them on a regular basis, no matter how much people tell you they're an acquired taste.
So how can you make your green powders taste better, or at least drown them out so you're getting the health benefits without suffering through the taste? Here are our tips.
Most superfood green powders come in powder form that you can scoop and add to recipes, smoothies, and shakes. They also often come in capsule form.
Capsules have a few benefits. As a contained, swallowable pill, you can get your full dose in seconds rather than working your way through a full smoothie or shake. If you already have a meal schedule and working in a shake just doesn't happen, a capsule makes it easy to get your supplement without worrying about cutting something else from your diet.
Capsules are also not food, so to speak, so you can safely consume them as necessary even when you're fasting. They can even help fill your stomach in a way water can't, to help suppress cravings that would otherwise tempt you to break your fast.
The biggest downside to capsules is the cost. Unfortunately, despite there being no difference between the powder within the capsule and the powder you buy in a jug, the capsules cost more. After all, the manufacturer needs to go through all the work of producing the capsules.
If you can afford it, the convenience of capsules over powder is very nice. You don't have to taste it going down – or you can wash the slight aftertaste down with a cup of juice or just some water – and the only side effect you might experience is a bit of flavoring to your burps.
Mix with Strong Fruit
Many fresh, ripe fruits have strong flavors, and those flavors can be almost overpowering in certain circumstances. Anyone who has tried to make a fruit smoothie at home and added too much of a particular fruit knows that it can be tricky to balance those flavors. It's not like going to a smoothie bar, where they have fixed recipes created specifically for their balanced flavors.
Different kinds of fruits are in season at different times of the year, so adding some fresh fruit is a great way to get variety as well as cover the taste of the green powders. We recommend potent fruits like pineapples, ripe bananas, raspberries, blueberries, and acai berries. Many people also like adding papaya and grape, though grapes can be hit or miss with their flavor often enough.
Keep in mind that while fruits do have a lot of sugar in them, it's not the same kind of sugar that we talk about when we recommend cutting processed sugars out of your diet. There's no high fructose corn syrup in your fresh raspberries.
Pro tip: freeze your fresh fruits (or buy frozen fruits, particularly for fruits that aren't in season) and add those to your smoothies. This can replace some or all of the ice you use in your smoothie, making it more concentrated with less water, for a rich, flavorful beverage.
Use a Rich Yogurt Base
Yogurt is generally considered something of a neutral base for smoothies, particularly if you're using plain yogurt. Not all yogurts are created equal, though. Instead of grabbing a tub of vanilla Yoplait, why not opt for a fresh plain greek yogurt instead? Getting a rich greek yogurt will enhance the tang you get from the yogurt itself, which is great for accenting other flavors.
You can also try out kefir. Kefir is a stronger yogurt beverage and not only has a tangier taste to it, but it's also rich in probiotics. It's generally thinner than yogurt, so you'll need to adjust the rest of your recipe to make sure your smoothie maintains the thick consistency you want.
Flavored yogurts can also help. Fruit flavored yogurts change the entire character of the smoothie you're making, and minimize how much "neutral" flavor there is, which in turn is what lets the green powders take over. By layering on the strong flavor on top of strong flavor, you can suppress the bitter grassiness of the green powders.
Go Decadent with Chocolate
Chocolate isn't always a strong flavor, but you can accent it with a few complementary flavors to make something that easily overpowers the green powders you're adding. Personally, we like a rich 70% dark chocolate as a base, but some people prefer milk chocolates or a bar of lighter dark chocolate instead. Just avoid the really dark 90% chocolates or the bittersweet chocolates if bitterness is your problem; the bitterness of the chocolate mixed with the bitterness of the green powders can be overpowering.
As far as additives go, there are a bunch of options. Probably the most popular is coffee. Coffee and chocolate go very well together, and chocolate helps cut the bitterness of coffee itself. If this is the route you choose, go for a bar of milk chocolate or a 30% dark chocolate instead of the darker stuff, again because the bitterness can compound otherwise.
Chai is a great flavor combination as well. Rich spiced chai can almost taste chocolatey on its own, let alone once you've mixed it with some good chocolate. The spice and the black tea really mix well.
Another great option is a mixture of bananas and dates. Dates add a richness and a dark sweetness to any smoothie and are a great replacement for honey. Bananas, of course, are a great fruit to serve as a foundation for many other flavors. Chocolate banana is just plain delicious, too.
Try a Milk Alternative
Milk itself isn't always great at masking other flavors, but many of the good milk alternatives out there work well. Cashew and almond milk are both great at this. They give you the rich creaminess of milk, with a hint of nut flavor. Be sure to try a few different brands to find one that has the right balance of flavors for you! You'd be surprised how much of a difference it can make.
Another milk alternative that works very well with green powders is coconut milk. Coconut milk is very common in Asian cuisine, and when mixed with the right blend of fruits, can make a tropical treat that's still extremely healthy.
Spices aren't just for cooking, you know. Adding a hearty helping of a few spices can do a lot to mask flavors and bitterness you don't really want to taste while accenting flavors you like.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice go great together or separately. They work well with banana-based, cream-based, and chocolate-based smoothies and shakes. Vanilla extract also goes very well with this mixture.
Cardamom, turmeric, and ginger are great, strong flavors that work well together or individually as well. They work with just about any kind of smoothie, including the more berry-flavored varieties.
If you're opting for a more vegetable-style smoothie, with vegetable juices and fresh greens in addition to the green powders, you can even add fresh herbs. Some fresh basil, thyme, or even mint can add a bright kick to your smoothie in a way you might not have experienced before.
Get to Baking
Green powders aren't limited to smoothies, though they're one of the more convenient ways to consume the stuff. As a powder, it's actually great to add to certain kinds of baking.
Matcha is most commonly used as a dessert flavor these days, and it's still a matcha flavor, but you aren't limited to just that flavor. Mixing a bit of matcha into a vegan chocolate cake recipe, for example, overwhelms the matcha but keeps the nutritional benefits. You are, of course, never limited to just the matcha either.
Adding a scoop of green powder in place of a tablespoon of flour in your pancake batter helps you get your greens as part of a balanced breakfast. The batter turns green, but that's fine; spring is here, after all. Even if the flavor is strong in a pancake mix, adding some fresh fruit, cream or syrup does more than enough to cover it up.
Adding a scoop to various cake, brownie, and cupcake recipes is also easy to do and won't overwhelm any but the most delicate flavors. The only downside is that you're just giving yourself an excuse to eat more dessert.
Make it Soup
Soups make it easy to mix in something as simple as a bit of green powder. A hearty stew is thick and rich enough you'll never notice the green taste, for example.
You can also try a no-cook soup. No-cook soups like this Thai ginger soup are hearty, packed with nutrients, and terrifically easy to make. It's almost like a smoothie in preparation, and you don't need to worry about spending all day boiling down a stock.
Roll it Up
Energy bites are a great little snack to keep on hand throughout the day. They give you a boost with protein, a bit of sugar, and a whole host of nutrients. They're small, but dense and filling, so only one or two can satisfy a craving that would otherwise call of hundreds of calories of junk foods.
There are as many energy bite recipes out there as there are people, so feel free to find your favorite. Something like this chocolate and spirulina recipe is a great place to start. Remember, pretty much any energy bite recipe can have your green powder added to it, regardless of what the powder is. You just might need to add a little bit more of other ingredients to make up for the powder and keep the consistency.
Mix With Hummus
Hummus is a great healthy snack with a potent flavor all its own. Flavored hummus mixtures, with roasted red pepper, lemon za'atar, or roast garlic are all powerful, flavorful options as well.
Taking a couple of scoops of your green superfood powder and blending it into hummus can be a great way to turn that hummus green, but it won't interfere with the flavor of the hummus at all. You can also make your own hummus from scratch, so make sure the green powder blends in more thoroughly.
Greens on Ice
One of the reasons most people mix green powders with smoothie ingredients is that the resulting beverage is cold. Cold beverages tend to dull the tongue and reduce how much you taste everything involved.
So why not just mix in some ice? Ice is certainly cold enough to do the trick and can be a part of smoothies or just alone. We've known people who mix some crushed ice, some water, and some greens, and that's good enough for them. Hey, why not give it a try? It's better than nothing at all, at the very least.