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It can be difficult to get your kids to eat what they should when it comes to fruits and vegetables. The serving size can look daunting when you put a cup of anything on their plate, and sometimes the appeal of food isn’t there unless it is covered in sugar or a candy coating. The trick to getting more goodness into your kid’s belly is by making it less obvious. Adding yogurt and nut milk can provide additional nutrition – and you can’t see ground flax or wheatgerm if it’s all mixed up! A lot of times kids will look at something and immediately say “I don’t like that” but if they can’t see it, they cannot dislike it.
Smoothies are flexible and give you many ways to add versatility to your child’s food intake. Here is our guide to building a better smoothie, and a few recipes to get you started.
For thickness and froth, use frozen fruit or ice cubes. We recommend one or the other since the fruit takes the place of the ice when frozen. We take bananas that are getting too ripe and throw them in a freezer bag for the perfect smooth solution.
Yogurt adds thickness and creaminess to smoothies, but be mindful if you are using Greek yogurt since it can add a tartness that some kids may not be familiar with. Avoid yogurts that are already sweetened or flavored. We recommend using plain to cut out a lot of sugar. Use vanilla and almond extracts for flavor variety.
Add-ons like chia seeds, ground flax, wheatgerm and other powders can increase the nutritional value. A little dash or spoonful can add a big punch of power. Chia is a thickening agent, so be mindful of leaving it to sit too long in a smoothie.
Chopped dried dates and cacao nibs add texture and flavors that kids like and are a healthier substitute for foods like candies or chocolate chips. We buy whole dates and then use kitchen scissors to cut them up into smaller pieces before blending.
Each of these recipes will provide one large smoothie or two smaller ones for sharing. You can adjust the levels of each ingredient to your taste preference.
Peanut Butter Banana Chip Smoothie
This is one of our all-time favorite smoothies and a crowd pleaser every time.
Add the following ingredients to your blender:
- 1 frozen banana – if banana isn’t frozen, use fresh and add 5 ice cubes
- 1 cup of milk – we love using unsweetened almond and love coconut or flax milk as well
- 1 tsp of coconut oil
- 1 tsp of peanut butter – if you have a peanut allergy, almonds and almond butter taste fantastic too
- Dash of ground flaxseed
Blend until smooth and then add in a tablespoon of cacao nibs and pulse or blend for 10 seconds. If you add them too early, they will become smooth and will give more a chocolate rather than a chippy taste.
Berry Berry Goodness
- 1 cup of frozen blueberries – wild blueberries are high in antioxidants, but all common grocery berries offer health benefits. You can mix frozen and fresh berries if you have both on hand.
- 1 cup of milk – for this recipe we love unsweetened almond milk
- 1 Tablespoon of oats
- 1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
- 2 Tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds
Blend until smooth
(TIP – I have tried replacing milk with yogurt and it tastes amazing. Since,
yogurt is a good source of probiotics, plan out the best time to take
probiotics according to your kid’s schedule.)
Mango Tango Smoothie
½ cup frozen pineapple
½ cup frozen mango
1 can of mandarin oranges – preferably unsweetened
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon of honey
1 cup nut milk (soy, almond, or coconut are good options)
Blend ingredients together. You can freeze the mandarin orange slices if would like for thicker smoothies.
Making your own smoothie recipes is easy enough, just balance the liquid, solid, and frozen parts equally. Using honey or maple syrup as sweeteners will add just the right touch without too much sugar. Consider coconut water for more hydration in your smoothies, and for a little kick of greens, spinach is surprisingly easy to add without being easily detected. If your kids are open to green blends, try to balance the taste with an apple for sweetness. And finally, don’t forget to throw in nuts and seeds when you can, as they are not likely to modify the taste of smoothies in small amounts.