These lessons focus on how in the world you get your children (and your spouse) to drink a smoothie that is packed with greens and other hidden and amazingly nutritious gems. It is possible. I promise.
Just do not do what I did.
There truly is no better way to give your children almost a full day’s worth of their fruit and vegetable intake than in one single glass. In fact, nothing makes me more excited. There are many nights that I do not fret that the vegetables on their dinner plates do not get finished. After all, only I am keen to what their smoothies were jammed with only hours before.
But…I made many mistakes along the way with my first son (and my sweet spouse). These mistakes forced me to put my smoothie making on a brief hiatus. I had to re-group. I needed to come up with a new game plan.
I learned some tricks with my second kiddo, however. And now? My little three year old can down a smoothie within seconds. I actually caught him pouring the rest of his big brother’s leftovers into his own cup yesterday when his back was turned. I pretended I did not see it, though. Really. It was not like he was stealing candy.
I previously did an entire post about one of my favorite smoothie secret ingredients: Kefir.
Kefir is so abundantly good for you that I got a bit over-zealous with my additions to my smoothies. And plain Kefir (especially home-made kefir made from raw goat’s milk) can be VERY tart. Oh, so very tart.
And that, my friends, is where I went a little wrong. It actually turned my husband off of smoothies with kefir in them for well over a year. My son – a much easier convert – came back to the “green” side within a few months.
Considering I can chug plain kefir straight, I have a feeling my biased taste buds were not telling me the true story of what a mid-thirty year old and his half-way picky son would actually think of the concoctions whirring away in my blender.
So..these lessons will be short and sweet. They are so simple, I actually wonder how I did not know these to begin with.
In fact…maybe I should actually re-name this post:
5 Lessons on How NOT to Turn Your Kids (and Husband) Off of Smoothies.
LESSON 1: When they ask what makes the smoothie green, tell them it is kiwi turning it that lovely shade of murky swamp. Do not mention the avocado, or the kale, or the spinach, or the mustard greens. Omission is not the same thing as lying. Right? This actually brings me to another lesson. No. Not about lying.
LESSON 2: Always add frozen blueberries or cherries. A lot of them. You may have more stains to clean (on clothes, the carpet, etc), but your smoothies will no longer be green. I am not sure that there is really a named color on the spectrum for what color it turns them, but I would never call it any shade of green.
LESSON 3: Do not get carried away with the ingredient that you think to be the most healthy. Use the low and slow method. The taste will be in there in the beginning, even if very subtle. You can slowly add more as they get used to the flavors over time. This is where I went wrong with the Kefir. I went big from the start. More is not always better. Not when it comes to picky husbands or cautious children.
LESSON 4: Do not serve your children a smoothie every single day for a solid month. It will lose it’s novelty. Anything done too often really will lose it’s charm, no matter how much you love something.
Even if they love your smoothies on Day 1, on Day 12 they will be bored. On Day 30, they will be repulsed.
I tried this experiment with Chocolate Chip Ice Cream not too long ago. Chocolate Chip Ice Cream is our favorite dessert. So, I let my children have a small bowl of it every evening after dinner for what I intended to be thirty days. On Day 1, they jumped for joy. On Day 12, my oldest asked for a different dessert. My youngest left his bowl untouched until it was a soupy mess. On Day 20, I told them that this was the only dessert left in the entire house. On Day 21, they both asked for an apple for dessert. I ended the experiment early.
LESSON 5: Do not act too excited. Really. Do not say, “Wow! This smoothie is amazing! You have to try it. You do not know what you are missing. Hey. I mean it… try it. It is SO good. Mmmmm….I am going to drink it all. Don’t you want a taste before it is ALL gone? Please? Pretty Please? I will buy you a new Lego set.”
Do not do that.
It does not work. Instead? Try this. “Wow! This smoothie is so good I think I am going to keep it all for myself.” Then pour a big frosty glass of it. Leave it on the counter and walk away without referring to it again. Place their favorite snack next to it. Place a really cool straw like the one below in the big smoothie glass. We have those sunglasses straws. The kids will drink anything through them. Oh…my husband will too.
Note. That is not my child. This picture is off of Stupid.com. Don’t judge. It is the only place I could find a picture of this crazy straw.
I tell you these lessons with a bit of tongue and cheek, but the underlying element behind each of these is totally true. I mean it. Omit, but do not lie. Embrace purple stains (a small sacrifice for health). Remember that less is best (at least to start). Take breaks. Pretend you do not care. Get these Straws.
And now…I will give you the recipe for the base of one of our favorite concoctions here. This one is a great starter. It is packed with so much goodness, yet the kids will enjoy it. Over time, I have managed to increase the greens to triple the amount below and have replaced the water with more kefir by using the low and slow method with my boys. I also tend to get creative with leftover vegetables in the refrigerator (as I mention below). However, I follow my rules in order to keep this momentum going.
Easy Kid-Friendly Green Smoothie Recipe
- 1 (or 2) fresh organic bananas (or frozen banana pieces if you have them)
- 2 cups frozen or fresh organic strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, mangoes, kiwi (really whatever berries/fruit you have available – we love to mix and match)
- 1 cup frozen organic cherries or blueberries
- 1 – 3 cups (or as much as you can get away with) fresh organic kale, chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, spinach, or any other greens – make sure you have a strong blender. Vitamix does an awesome job with hearty greens)
- 1 cup Plain Kefir (or more to taste) made from any dairy or non-dairy milks (Cow, goat, coconut, rice, soy – all will work)
- 1 cup Filtered Water
- 1/2 cup Apple Cider, preferably organic (during fall and winter you can get some delicious fresh-pressed cider from local Farmer’s Markets)
- 2 – 3 Tbsp Ground Chia, Hemp, or Flax Seeds
- 1- 2 Tbsp RAW honey (full of vital enzymes) OR 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Creme Stevia
1. Throw in the bananas, berries/fruit choices, cherries and/or blueberries, greens, kefir, apple cider, water, ground chia, flax, or hemp seeds, and raw honey or vanilla stevia. If you are not using any frozen fruit, you should probably add some crushed ice to make it nice, cold, and refreshing!
2. Blend all together for about a minute, or until really creamy and smooth! You can add more liquid (kefir, organic juice, or water) to whatever your desired consistency is.
Smoothies are so forgiving, so you can really play around to make your own “magical concoctions”. I will often throw a few veggies in from the previous night’s dinner as well. I have added beets, pumpkin, squash, carrots, daikon root, parsnips, avocados (not a vegetable, I know)…you name it. It is a great way to use up leftover vegetables. Be warned though, some experiments work better than others in these kitchen trials.
NOTE: I have also been known to toss in a number of other intestinal healing supplements into the smoothies, but shhhhhh! The boys have no idea. And as I am known for saying in these parts…”What they don’t know… will only make them healthier.”
NOW HIT ME WITH YOUR FAVORITE LESSON TO GET YOUR PICKY EATERS TO DRINK SMOOTHIES!
This post is linked to Real Food Weekly over at The WHOLE Gang.