It can be a real challenge to get kids to eat their fruits and veggies, but smoothies provide an ideal strategy for making that happen in a way that appeals to picky taste buds. For smoothies, you can use fruits only, vegetables only or a combination of fruits and vegetables. To make veggie smoothies tastier, use primarily vegetables along with a small amount of fruit, such as a few berries or a couple apple slices.
Tried and True -- or New -- Flavors
When it comes to possible smoothie ingredients, just about any fruit or vegetable is fair game. Feel free to experiment with your kids' favorites, and branch out from there. Even if your kids don't typically like a certain fruit or veggie, they might enjoy it when it's blended in with the other smoothie flavors.
Fruit and Veggie Cornucopia
Possible fruits include fresh or frozen selections that are preferably organic. For example, try fresh bananas to add a thicker consistency to a smoothie or strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches or tomatoes. Your store's freezer section might offer frozen berries, pineapple, mango and cranberries. Smoothie veggies can include celery, cucumbers, carrots, parsley and cilantro. Sneak in some really healthy ingredients, such as a handful of dark, leafy greens like spinach leaves, and their flavors will blend right in with the other ingredients.
Other Tasty Selections
In addition to nutritious fruits and veggies, add in some healthy protein like yogurt to increase the smoothie's thickness. Also consider kefir or milk, or if you avoid dairy in your diet, try coconut milk or almond milk. For healthy and filling fat, drop in some avocado for added thickness, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, peanut butter or almond butter. Add some liquid, such as filtered water, orange juice or apple juice, for a thinner consistency. Crushed or cubed ice can turn the smoothie's texture frostier and colder, like a slush, which is great for kids needing to cool down in the summer months or after they've been running around.
Packed With Nutrients
Don't be misled by simple smoothies -- as kids enjoy them, they're drinking in loads of nutrients. For example, 1/2 cup of fresh halved strawberries contains 44.7 milligrams of vitamin C and 116 milligrams of potassium, and 1/2 cup of blueberries contains 40 international units of vitamin A and 57 milligrams of potassium. Also, 1/2 cup of sliced bananas contains 2 grams of fiber and 20 milligrams of magnesium. As for veggies, 1/2 cup of raw spinach contains 1,407 international units of vitamin A and 15 milligrams of calcium, and 1/2 cup of chopped carrots contains 22 milligrams of phosphorus and 21 milligrams of calcium.
Whipping Up Tasteful Concoctions
Once you've decided which ingredients to include, it's time to enlist the help of your blender or food processor. Just add the ingredients, one by one, and mix them up. You'll have a ready-to-enjoy smoothie in just seconds. Kids can help you, but make sure they have adult supervision. It's gratifying for kids to help prepare their food, and they're often more likely to try foods that they've had a hand in preparing.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Tropical Fruit-Yogurt Smoothie Recipe
- Kids Eat Right: Rainbow Swirley Smoothie
- Kids Eat Right: Blue Banana Smoothie
- Kids Eat Right: Fuel You Up Smoothie
- C Is for Cooking: Recipes from the Street; Susan McQuillan, R.D.
- Whole Foods for Babies and Toddlers; Margaret Kenda
- USDA: Basic Report--11457, Spinach, Raw
- USDA: Basic Report--09316, Strawberries, Raw
- USDA: Basic Report--09050, Blueberries, Raw
- USDA: Basic Report--09040, Bananas, Raw