How To Mask Bitter Kale Flavors In Homemade Smoothies

Raw kale is inherently very bitter. This is why you'll often come across any salad featuring the leafy green paired with an overpowering and heavier dressing. You can't blame the superfood, that bitter taste is how it deters pests and insects from nibbling on its leaves. Bitter equals poisonous to predators, though humans have outsmarted kale on that one.

The tastebuds on our tongues pick up on the five main tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory. Any well-crafted dish or drink will have the right balance of these taste sensations. Bitter happens to be the taste we are most sensitive to and for that reason, bitter ingredients — think 100% dark chocolate or frisée lettuce — are usually pretty polarizing. The key to masking the bitterness of kale in your breakfast beverage lies in counterbalancing it with one of the five tastes that pretty much everyone loves and what you'd want in a smoothie, which is a sweet element.

How to make a flavor-balanced kale smoothie

There are a few main components of a stellar smoothie — a liquid, a base, a thickener or something creamy, and a cold factor. For that bitter kale, you'll want to counter the taste with a high-sugar fruit such as banana, mango, or pineapple. You could also up the sweetness with a bit of honey, maple syrup, or a soft date or two. Don't discredit sweeter-tasting veggies either. A beautiful red pepper, carrot, or beet can add a hint of sweetness as well. 

Smoothies are a great opportunity to clean out your fridge and there really is no way to mess it up. Just give it a taste as you blend. But if you find it's still not sweet enough, keep on adding ingredients until you get it right. Once you have the basics covered, you can then add any accouterments you wish. Think satiating fats like flaxseed oil, flavor-boosting spices like cinnamon or cardamom, protein or collagen powder, cocoa powder, or even shredded coconut — the opportunities are endless.