Whenever I get concerned about our kids’ eating habits (is eschewing spinach at age three a habit, or right of passage?) I think about the advice a friend of mine got from her pediatrician. “They won’t eat any vegetables” my friend confessed about her children, thinking she was about to get a lecture on nutritional deficiencies and how all good parents find a way to coax and coddle their offspring into loving leafy greens. “Yes, but do they eat fruit?” her pediatrician asked. “Can’t get enough” she truthfully shared. “Then you’re fine” he told her. “It’s all good.”
All I can say is, whew.
And while veggies are, undoubtedly, something we should all make a habit of eating, it’s reassuring to know that fresh fruits do our bodies good as well. Our girls will eat just about any fruit we have in the house. During a recent shopping trip Daughter 1 talked me into buying a pomelo just because it was a fruit she hadn’t yet tried. But even they grow tired of one-too-many clementines or sliced apples packed in their lunch. To keep things fresh (pun intended), we make smoothies. As we get into the colder months it’s really hard to find fresh seasonal fruit in the Northeast. All I can say is, thank goodness for the freezer…or the freezer aisle in the grocery store. It may not be seasonal now, or here, but flash-frozen produce retains the benefits of fresh and can be a welcome reminder of the warmer months that have just recently passed us by.
Chances are good that 1)if you’re a parent and 2)you’ve ever struggled to get something nutritious into your child, that 3) you’ve made them a smoothie too. It’s a tried and true equation: A+B=C. Pulling out the blender can be a seminal light-bulb moment for many moms and dads whose tots have progressed past watery rice cereal. At least it was for us, with the added benefit of being FAST which, I don’t need to tell you, is important when you have a child for whom every decision of the morning is something to draw out and savor. And debate.
These days, the conversation in our house goes something like this:
Mom: “Guys, we only have half-an-hour until we have to be out the door. With teeth brushed and shoes on. Soooo….who wants a smoothie?”
Daughter 2: “Shoes on????”
Daughter 1: “Me! I want a smoothie!”
Daughter 2: “Don’t you mean boots?”
Daughter 1: “I want a smoothie!”
Daughter 2: “My boots don’t fit anymore.”
Daughter 1: “Can I help make the smoothie?”
Daughter 2: “My boots…hey, I want to help make the smoothie!”
Mom: “You can both help make the smoothie. Just promise me you’ll drink it quickly.”
Daughter 2: “Yes, quickly. Then, can I put on ballet shoes? Because my boots don’t fit anymore.”
Part of the fun in helping make the smoothies is dumping ingredients into the blender. The other part is the blender itself. When I run it, both girls tell me it’s too loud. When they run it (with supervision!), it’s a magical kitchen appliance, turning whole fruit into a delicious purée in seconds. (“Is it ready yet?”) We have a VitaMix and I love its speed and power, though the price tag was daunting. If you make smoothies often, invest in a blender that can tackle frozen fruit and ice cubes. There is nothing quite as disappointing as making a smoothie and it not being smooth enough sip through a straw!
Another tip: you can always sneak some veggies into your smoothie if you’re stealthy enough. Try a little bit of baby spinach, which seems to work especially well in berry smoothies. Somehow, though, our girls ferret out the veggies. I have another friend who makes green smoothies every morning for herself and her boys and even puts parsley in them, which her kids love. I’m not sure our girls would go for that, but they are pretty open to new combinations.
Hopefully we’ve inspired you to break out the blender and try something new. If you’re curious about the smoothie that has my kids lining up, here’s how we most often make ours.
Very Berry Smoothies
1 ripe banana, peeled
Approximately 3/4 cup frozen sliced peaches
Approximately 1/2 cup frozen whole strawberries
Handful (about 1/4 cup) of frozen wild blueberries
3/4 cup no-sugar-added 100% orange juice
3/4 cup no-sugar-added 100% cranberry juice (or cranberry/blueberry/raspberry juice, or pomegranate juice…I personally prefer a no-sugar-added, 100% juice variety)
1/2 cup low-fat French vanilla yogurt
Place all ingredients in the blender, adding yogurt and juices last. Start to blend on a low speed, and progressively work up to the highest speed. (This will keep your smoothing from doing that thing where the bottom gets blended and the top doesn’t so it just sucks in a bunch of air, and you have to stop the blender and allow it to “burp” before continuing.)
The smoothie is ready when it’s pureed to a smooth consistency.
My least favorite task — cleaning the blender — is pretty easily handled by partially filling the now-empty container with hot water and dish soap and turning on the blender at a low to medium speed. Turn it off, give the canister a quick wash and rinse and you’re good to go. But you probably already know this trick.
Parent rating: four stars. I love a quick breakfast. So much so that we don’t necessarily wait for breakfast time to make this smoothie…instead making it as a nutritious and easy snack.
Kid rating: five stars. Our girls consistently finish these, serving after serving. No added sugar or sweetener necessary since the sweetened yogurt and natural fruit sugars do the trick. If you can sneak in a little spinach or other greens you get bonus points!