As any parent of a young kid knows, getting a little one to willingly gobble up their recommended daily dose of fruits and veggies is a tall order — which is where smoothies come in.
Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to offer up a lot of produce at once (with all of the immune-boosting properties, vitamins, and fiber little bodies need) in a vehicle that can be slurped down on even the most rushed of mornings. And if you stock your fridge and freezer, you can even blend them up in mere minutes.
Plus, blending veggies that the kids don't (or won't) routinely eat in their whole form can help ensure that they're getting a wider range of nutrients. There's nothing quite like the feeling of sending your kid out the door knowing that they've already eaten a serving of fruit and vegetables so you can relax when they refuse to eat their dinner at the end of the day!
1. Don't try to pack too many vegetables in one smoothie.
Whenever making smoothies for kids, there is the urge to sneak in a pile of veggies. And while the point of a smoothie is to get a lot of nutrition in a convenient and easy-to-drink package, there's a benefit to exercising a little restraint in the veggie department (namely, if you add too much it won't taste very good!).
Start with veggies that have milder flavors like zucchini, baby spinach, cauliflower, and avocado. You can always work up to kale down the road.
2. Choose nutritional boosters thoughtfully.
To boost the nutrition in smoothies for kids, you can add one to two teaspoons chia seeds or ground flaxseeds. These seeds add healthy fats needed for brain development and help make the smoothie a little more filling. Just be sure to serve the smoothie immediately since they will thicken the liquid if allowed to sit.
Hemp seeds (which, yes, kids can have) are an excellent plant-based alternative to protein powder. One tablespoon has about five grams of protein and a very mild flavor and texture that goes undetected in smoothies if blended well.
3. Make drinking smoothies fun.
To serve a smoothie to a toddler, offer it in a reusable pouch or a cup with a straw. Older kids, of course, can choose their favorite cup. We sometimes use half-pint Mason jars since they are a perfect size for little kids and are nearly impossible to break. You can also freeze leftovers in a freezer pop mold for a treat on another day.
I have one kiddo who loves smoothies and one who has never taken more than one reluctant sip in her life. If you have one of the latter types, it's okay. First, it's not mandatory that a kid like everything, but here are a few ways to help them learn to like smoothies.
- Offer tiny portions so it's less intimidating.
- Err on the sweeter side to appeal to their taste buds.
- Let them help you make it so they aren't scared at what might be lurking inside. This is one place where transparency will work in your favor!
The three smoothies here offer a range of flavor profiles and simple ingredients that you may already have on hand or will be easy enough to pick up at the store — even if the produce pickings are slim!