This week, my children and I made green smoothies. We usually mix colors and get sort of muted orange (a lot of carrots) or dull purple, but it has been great to see how bright we could make our smoothies and still taste great. I avoided vegetables that tend to be bitter in smoothies, like broccoli, and vegetables that don’t add much color, like celery and cucumbers. We ended up with a very smooth taste, probably because of the avocado. Sweet enough that kids loved it and veggie enough that parents loved it.
- 1/2 green apple
- 1/2 avocado
- 12 medium spinach leaves
- 12 grapes
- 2 large mint leaves
- 1 banana
- 1/4 soy milk
Green plants have chlorophylls, which play an important role in photosynthesis—capturing energy from sunlight and converting it into chemical energy. The phytonutrients in our smoothie included the carotenoid lutein, which works with zeaxanthin (both from raw spinach) for eye health.
Also, the spinach is a huge source of Vitamin A and folic acid; the green apple is a good source of Vitamin C; avocado is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and several other vitamins; and banana is high in manganese, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6.
I’ve noticed a lot of my friends using liquid, vegetable-based vitamins. The best choice in making sure children have a balanced diet is to give them an abundant variety of fresh, whole foods. Smoothies are just an easy way to give your child several servings of vitamin-, mineral-, and phytonutrient-rich foods in one sitting.
As interest in color-related nutrition increases, so does research. It is likely we will know much more in the future about the exact benefits phytochemicals (plant chemicals). In the meantime, we know that it is important to get as many intensely colored vegetables and fruits in our children’s diets as possible.