Photos by 
Jessicarobyn Keyser
Jessicarobyn Keyser

This Kale and Spinach Smoothie Is the Only Thing My Sister and I Agree on

by 
Sherel Purcell
March 15, 2021

My younger sister and I, once close, have drifted apart — not emotionally, but in almost every other way.

She stayed in Nova Scotia and became a mom to two wonderful girls. As the oldest of six kids, I’d had my fill of parenting from an early age. I moved to Toronto where I live happily as a footloose travel writer — ready to hit the road at a moment’s notice for long weekends in the Caribbean or 10 days touring the British Isles on a luxury coach.  

As our lifestyles diverged, we jokingly referred to ourselves as city mouse and country mouse, and while our lives differed in a myriad of ways, probably the biggest chasm was around food. While we both appreciate quick, easy and budget-friendly recipes, the similarities end there. 

She laughs at my “fancy fusion, trendy cooking creations” while I snub her comfort foods from old recipes featuring dubious ingredients. At our last family reunion, which took place at her house, she raved about a cousin's bubble gum-pink mashed potato salad laden with canned beets and mountains of mayo while dismissing my organic lavash topped with a mascarpone-fig spread.

The morning after the party she woke me up with a cheerful, “I’ve got coffee.” An early riser (you guessed it — I’m not), she’d just come back from running errands, bearing two styrofoam cups from the service station. 

"But I’ve brought my mini stove-top espresso maker, and some fresh ground beans for us,”  I mumbled, trying to hide my disappointment with the lukewarm, watery substance in front of me. 

“Of course you have, princess. But fear not. I'm making a breakfast treat that’s sure to meet your high standards.”

No items found.

A quick look around her kitchen confirmed the worst: boxed sugary cereals, white bread, and sweetened peanut butter. Food fit for kids?

But she grabbed a bag of frozen kale leaves and threw three big handfuls into her old glass blender. Next she ran some cold water straight from the tap over them, then added a small, yellow-brown banana, a handful of the frozen blueberries, a scoop of yogurt and a dash of maple syrup from our uncle’s farm. Within 30 seconds, breakfast was ready. And  it looked dreadful — a muddied, dull green slime which I accepted through half-closed eyes. 

“The kids won’t touch it.”

No wonder, I thought, and silently forgave them their poor breakfast choices.

“Wow. This IS good,” I found myself saying. And I meant it. I couldn’t believe I was drinking that same sorry-looking mess from the blender. It had a smooth, pleasant taste — not overly sweet — with a hint of tart berry and no discernible kale taste. 

(Note: There was no spinach when I originally encountered this recipe. The addition of spinach makes it far more beautiful!)

We clinked glasses — “cheers,” then polished off the rest of the smoothie, which kept us going throughout a friendly-competitive round of golf until the beer cart showed up.

Easy Peasy Grip-it-and-Rip-it Kale and Spinach Smoothie

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Ingredients

1.5 cups frozen or fresh kale

1 cup Fifth Season spinach

1 banana

3/4 cup of cold water

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup of frozen or fresh blueberries

1 tbsp of ground flax seeds (optional)

1 tbsp real maple syrup or honey

Note: Frozen kale and frozen berries work together, but if one these ingredients is fresh, the other should be frozen.

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2

Ingredients

1.5 cups frozen or fresh kale

1 cup Fifth Season spinach

1 banana

3/4 cup of cold water

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup of frozen or fresh blueberries

1 tbsp of ground flax seeds (optional)

1 tbsp real maple syrup or honey

Note: Frozen kale and frozen berries work together, but if one these ingredients is fresh, the other should be frozen.

Ingredients

1.5 cups frozen or fresh kale

1 cup Fifth Season spinach

1 banana

3/4 cup of cold water

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup of frozen or fresh blueberries

1 tbsp of ground flax seeds (optional)

1 tbsp real maple syrup or honey

Note: Frozen kale and frozen berries work together, but if one these ingredients is fresh, the other should be frozen.

Directions

1. Rinse a bunch of kale, shake off excess water and tear leaves from the stems before tossing the leaves into a plastic bag and throwing them in the freezer, taking care not to pack nor seal the bag too tightly. Allow to freeze before using. (Or use fresh kale if you want to skip this step, but again, frozen berries should then be used.)

2. Add all ingredients to a blender starting with the water, yogurt, maple syrup (or honey) ground flaxseed (if using) and banana, finishing with the kale, spinach, and berries.

3. Set the blender to the smoothie setting and, if necessary, pulse an extra 30 seconds on low or medium.

4. Check for desired consistency, adding a bit more water if necessary

Not into blueberries? Other great choices include apple, mango, kiwi and pineapple — fresh, frozen, juiced or canned. Fruit-flavored yogurt can replace plain but will yield a sweeter concoction so you may want to dump the maple syrup or honey. Also, start with less water if adding extra fruit or juice.

About the Author

Sherel Purcell

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