What Is Your Favorite Smoothie?

Banana SmoothieWhat is your child’s favorite smoothie?

Today, my son decided he didn’t want to eat lunch at all. I suggested he just have a smoothie. It worked! I even let him choose and didn’t try to sneak in a broccoli stem or a handful of beans. He choose peaches from our neighbors’ tree, a banana, and coconut. He and his dad opened a coconut a few days ago, and he’s been trying to figure out how to use up all of that nice coconut flesh. When I asked him what he liked best about it, though, it wasn’t the two special ingredients but the banana.

My son’s favorite smoothie is anything with a banana.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered smoothie tools as well as the intense nutrition blast of dark purple smoothies, earthy orange smoothies, and easy green smoothies. Have you experimented? What do you like? What is your child’s favorite smoothie?

We would love to share your recipes and tips
for this easy, nutritious meal.

Monday Morning Smoothie: Easy Green

Green Fruits and Vegetables for Smoothie

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.

Green SmoothieAlso, 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.

Monday Morning Smoothie: Earthy Orange

Golden Beets for orange smoothie

This week, my children and I put together an intense orange smoothie. When shopping we looked specifically for orange foods to add, and we decided not to be obvious and add oranges. We ended up with:

Orange fruit and vegetables

  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 golden beet
  • 1 cup of golden raspberries
  • 4″ of golden chard (small at their request)
  • 1 large nectarine
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 cup of soy milk
  • a couple of Tablespoons of yoghurt

The color of our smoothie was quite golden. The children said it tasted strongly of beets, but the husband said that raspberries were the dominant taste. We definitely tasted the earthy golden beet, but there was a lot of sweet fruit to lighten up the intensity. We usually use a banana to add that smooth sweetness. The soy milk and yoghurt just make the mixture liquid enough to drink. In the end, it was an earthy orange.

Orange Smoothie with carrotsCarrots in particular are an incredible source of Vitamin A—or, rather, provitamin A carotenoids that can form Vitamin A. Alpha carotene is a cancer fighter, and beta carotene promotes repair of damaged DNA. You probably know that beta carotene will help your eyesight, which is related to this repair function.

The nectarines are also a good source of Vitamin A. Raspberries add quite a bit of Vitamin C. The banana adds a blast of Potassium, though most of these fruits and vegetables, including the beets and chard in particular, are high in Potassium.

My children rejected the idea of adding too much chard, but we added a bit of beautiful golden chard. (I’ll drench the rest in apple cider vinegar, and they’ll love it.)

We’ve learned that one wrong move can really ruin a smoothie. When we added too much rhubarb this week, none of us had an easy time choking it down. For that smoothie-gone-wrong, I added a few more blueberries for some sweetness, and we froze it in popsicle molds. They’ve finished the popsicles, so it must not be so bad when it looks like a treat.

Lately, we use smoothies for our mid-morning pick-me-up. After we’ve done a couple of hours of school, I see them start to droop. The three of us pick through our kitchen to find what we have, and we experiment. The change of activity is a big help. They know I’m trying to stuff them full of vegetables, too, and they don’t resist. They enjoy seeing how far we can take ground up vegetables.

Monday Morning Smoothie: Sour Purple Blast

Beets for smoothiesLast week I asked you to gather your smoothie tools. This week, we blend — one color at a time.

You know your child needs a variety of foods. You know fruits and vegetables are good for you. The reasons why are many. I want to focus on just one thread through the fabric of nutrition as we make Monday morning smoothies: phytonutrients.

We’ve learned a lot more about phytonutrients in the past ten years through science and popular press. To make the case simply, these plant-based chemicals are related to the pigment they use to protect themselves from intense sunlight and other threats. We eat colorful fruits and vegetables, and we share that protection.

Eat dark fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors for the most benefit and eat the foods fresh. Processing, even cooking, can destroy or remove some phytochemicals. This is another reason raw fruits and vegetables in smoothies are a great way to make sure your child has the most possible benefit from their food.

Fruits and Vegetables can be divided into 5-7 color categories, each rich in a particular set of phytonutrients. Today, we’re going for the dark blue and purple foods that contain anthocyanins, which contain antioxidants that help protect cells from damage.

On to the food.

Purple fruits and vegetables for smoothiesI didn’t think too much about ingredients. I just pulled out everything intensely blue or purple that I had in my kitchen. I added:

  • 1 small beet
  • 4 cherries
  • 1 plum from a neighbor’s tree
  • 3 strawberries
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice (not cocktail but the intense straight juice)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup plain yoghurt
  • 4 ice cubes

Wow, this was great! Much better than last week’s carrot / spinach smoothie for the first set of photos, which was still good. The Sour Purple Blast is intense, sour, and smells like dirt like a good beet should.

Sour Purple Blast Monday morning smoothieIf you are going for a purple blast of your own, try a variation. Frozen fruit helps make a smoothie very slushy, which is very popular on a hot summer day. Cranberry juice is very intense, so only use it if your kids have a high tolerance for sour (like mine do). I didn’t use many ice cubes this time, so our purple blast was more intense than most of our smoothies. For a younger child, I would add a banana as a base or use a lot of ice cubes to lower the intensity.

If you try a great purple smoothie, please share your recipe in the comments.

Vita-Mix (again) has a simple version of the 7-color food chart that can be your simple guide to color and nutrition.

Thanks to my daughter for the name “Sour Purple Blast.”