Coconut “Kale-ada” Smoothie

January 8th, 2013 at 8:08 am

It’s smoothie time! I’ve got a delicious new one to share with you today. If you love the flavors of the tropics, you’ll go crazy for this Coconut “Kale-ada” Smoothie. It’s like a pina colada…only much, much healthier!

I’ve been adding kale to my smoothies for years. One trick I’ve learned to disguise the often bitter kale flavor is to combine it with other greens. Using just one (or several, if you’re a green smoothie veteran) leaves of kale still adds great nutrition, but doesn’t overpower the smoothie. The rest of the vibrant green comes from nutrient-packed spinach, another all-star ingredient that’s a staple in my fridge.

Pairing sweet fruits like the banana and pineapple in this recipe with healthy fat from the coconut offers a blood sugar stabilizing drink that’s also pretty satisfying. If you find yourself with “winter cravings” this time of year for rich and carb-laden foods like pasta, casseroles, and baked goods, there’s a good chance that you’re not eating enough fat or protein (or both).

I don’t buy into the lie that fat makes us fat. Excess calories, from any source (protein, carbs, or fat), make us fat. If you’re taking in more than your body needs, it’s going to get stored as those love handles (or saddlebags, or muffin top, or anything else). Excess calories from nutritionally empty sources like refined sugars and carbs are particularly pesky and will lead to weight gain more quickly than, say, something lean and clean like organic meat or coconut oil.

If you saw how much coconut oil, coconut milk, almond butter, nuts, and avocados I eat in a day, you’d probably be a little shocked. Fat makes up a big part of my diet. Vegetables and fruits also play a star role, but a person can’t live on produce and protein alone. They must have fat! I exercise regularly but am certainly not an athlete burning mega amounts of calories each day. Still, I eat quite a bit of high-calorie food and don’t have an issue with weight gain.

We’ve made food really complicated in our world. But it’s actually really simple: eat real foods, stuff that’s as close to it’s natural state as possible. Consume enough to be satisfied but not stuffed. Don’t obsess over numbers and grams. In fact, give away your scales and diet books. Focus on nutrient density, not numerical accuracy.

Shortly before the new year, I shared about my interest in doing a juice cleanse on the Daily Bites Facebook page. I was considering starting off the new year with a 3-day juice cleanse, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. In the end, I decided to hold off for a few reasons. First, it’s January in Wisconsin. A juice cleanse would have had me bundled up in my Snuggie by my office space heater for three days, no doubt about that. I didn’t think it was responsible of me to try to commit to a modified fast when the daily temperature was barely reaching the twenties.

I also really tried to ask myself what the point of cleansing was for me personally. Did I want to lose weight? Certainly not. Did I want to “reset” my body for the new year? A little bit. Did I want to challenge myself with something new? Bingo.

I was seeking a challenge. So instead of restricting my food intake to nothing but juice for three days and calling it a rejuvenating start to the new year (doesn’t sound all that rejuvenating to me, now that I look back on it!), I took a few hours to sit quietly and focus on other small goals to undertake throughout 2013 instead.

Perhaps a juice cleanse will be one of them once the weather warms up, but for now I am perfectly happy sipping tropical smoothies and dreaming of sandy white beaches from the comfort of my office…by the warmth of my space heater.

Coconut “Kale-ada” Smoothie

Makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies

This smoothie will work in most blenders, but if you don’t have a good sturdy one, the shredded coconut may not blend very well. Substitute a spoonful of your favorite nut butter, coconut butter, or coconut oil instead.


1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks

1/2 frozen ripe banana*

1 kale leaf, stem removed

1 cup spinach

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (see note above)

1/4 cup canned full-fat coconut milk

1/2 cup water, or more as needed

Place all of the ingredients in a blender (I use a Vita Mix). Blend on high until smooth, adding more water if necessary to keep things moving. Enjoy right away.

*Ingredient Note: If you’d like to omit the banana, use 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks and add a little drizzle of honey or coconut nectar to sweeten it up if needed.


  1. That sounds great. My kids both have a “snack” time at school and I can’t bear to have them eating the goldfish and what-not that the other kids eat (plus my kids are gluten-free). So I have been packing smoothies- a great way to trick them into eating greens at snack time! Lately it has been spinach-strawberry-banana with coconut water.

  2. Sharmista said on January 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks for the comments on the juice fast. I was also considering one, but I’m also in Wisconsin. I wouldn’t have thought of that aspect of the fast. Guess I’ll hold off too! It’s okay, I need to save up for a better juicer anyway!

    This recipe sounds amazing, by the way. Can’t wait to try it!

  3. Hi, Hallie. I don’t often comment on blogs, but I just wanted to say that 1. I love your recipes, 2. I love your cookbooks, and 3. I love your sense. I am constantly striving to reduce and remove the processed calories, to keep food more natural and simple, to keep my blood sugar level, and to balance my meals. Your blog often helps, and often puts my eating ways into perspective. I am also glad to know I am not the only one eating a ton of nuts! Really, I just wanted to say thanks–I’ll be trying this recipe.

  4. I LOVE the color of this smoothie Hallie. So appealing and pretty :) I think it makes total sense to hold off cleansing like that. Hooray for listening to Mama Earth and your body. xo

  5. Love the title – cute :) And it looks delicious!

  6. Victoria said on April 9, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Just made this, without banana. SO heavenly! I cannot gulp it down fast enough. Thank you!!

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I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.