One way that I make sure my children are eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables every day is giving them smoothies.
Our simplest recipe is agua fresca (fresh water) with just water, ice, and fresh strawberries. My daughter loves this. She learned about it when she was learning Spanish, and the characters in her story gave the recipe in Spanish. Now, she associates this light drink with homeschool time.
Last week I made my son a really simple smoothie of banana, milk, and ice, he said, “Are you sure there’s no sugar in it?” No. “Wow. It’s good for you? That was really good. Are there more bananas?” For him, he’s just drinking a milk shake.
These are two of the simplest recipes, but with a smoothie there is great potential for adding more of the fresh foods that your child needs in their diet and making sure it tastes great.
Encourage Adventurous Taste
When they were small, maybe one to three years old and still breastfeeding but not exclusively breadfed, I didn’t pump breastmilk for them if I was going to be away from them. If they went out with grandma or went with daddy on a day out, I would send them with brown juice, a mix of carrots, whatever greens we had on hand (romaine lettuce, spinach, dandelion greens), and black strap molasses (for iron) in a soy milk base. Because they have been drinking juice and smoothies since they were young, they are quite willing to drink my concoctions now as they get older—especially if I add enough ice to make it look and feel like ice cream.
My children are generally willing to follow our one taste rule (you can’t know if you like something or not unless you’ve had at least one taste). Beyond that, they choose their own food. I encourage, but I don’t force. Because I can usually encourage them to be adventurous, they are willing to try experimental smoothies and enjoy them—or just be honest about it and help adjust the taste when one fails the test.
The Tool: Your Blender
When I had just a low-power, store-bought blender, I had a tough time grinding ice or juicing vegetables. I had daily green juice when I was pregnant with my second child, with varied ingredients depending on the needs of that trimester. My poor, kind husband juiced everything in a juicer that removed the pulp and took at least half an hour to clean every time. After the baby was born, my husband gradually lost his motivation and time to embark on the juicing and cleaning adventure. When my household blender stopped doing more than just rounding off the corners of ice cubes, smoothies because more rare as well.
This all changed when I got a professional-grade Vita-Mix. I saw a demonstration at a local fair, and I fell in love. It was quite expensive compared to all of the other blenders and juicers I had used, so I waited until I saw it at the same fair the next year. I knew that baby was mine. I love my Vita-Mix. It mixes, grinds, and blends any food or ice I give it. You don’t have to have a high-end blender like this to make great smoothies, but it helps.
I can see that my blender has lower speeds, but I don’t use them. I’m not even sure what they are for. Why would I not just knock those ice cubes into submission. When my husband saw me buzzing up a banana, he said, “I don’t dare use that setting.” That’s the difference between us, darling. I don’t have any other speed.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to post a Monday morning smoothie with information about a child’s nutritional needs and how you can best meet them.
So, gather your tools! Get ready for the ice cream that’s good for you. Get ready to make green, purple, and orange juices so good your child will say, “That’s good for me? May I have some more?”