Smoothies are a great way for kids to get many of the vitamins and nutrients they need. In just one glass, you can pack a variety of antioxidant-loaded fruits and vegetables.
The key to helping your kids enjoy healthy smoothies, though, is making them taste great. They’d probably be quick to reach for a store-bought smoothie that’s filled with sugar and artificial flavorings to make the smoothie taste more like a dessert than a healthy snack, but luckily, there are many ways you can create great-tasting smoothies with nutritious ingredients.
With the right mix of fruits, vegetables and additional ingredients, even picky eaters will love slurping down a homemade smoothie. Here are some tips for making smoothies that are healthy and taste good:
Try different milk varieties
Many lighter smoothies contain milk, but you can create even healthier versions by swapping traditional cow milk for other varieties. Almond, coconut, cashew, soy and walnut milks contain good-for-you elements like Vitamins E and B, niacin, folate, iron and potassium, all of which are important for growing bodies. Not only are these alternative milk types nutritious, but many taste sweeter than their cow milk counterparts. Just make sure you choose no-sugar or reduced-sugar alternative milk varieties, since some types can be hiding large amounts of the sweet stuff.
Be sure to add sweet fruits to green smoothies to help mask the flavor of the veggies.
Sweeten the smart way
In smoothies, sweetness is key – especially with recipes that call for bitter vegetables, like kale or broccoli. If a smoothie tastes too “green” or too much like grass, your kid probably won’t touch it, so don’t be afraid to sweeten up the deal through some healthier methods. Rachel Ray recommended using a dash of vanilla or honey to enhance the smoothie. Another option for healthy yet sweet flavor is agave nectar.
Think about balance
Green smoothies that incorporate vegetables make the snack even healthier, but as mentioned above, if the kids can taste or smell the vegetables, they probably won’t want to take a sip. To create kid-friendly green smoothies, be strategic about the ingredients. Balance veggies with a bitter, distinct flavor, like kale, spinach and broccoli, with naturally sweet fruits that will hide their earthy taste. Pineapple, mango, raspberries, strawberries and bananas are all flavorful fruits that will help mask the taste of greens.
SheKnows provided a simple green smoothie recipe your kids will love. Simply blend together a couple cups of spinach, a few handfuls of frozen mixed berries, Greek yogurt, low-fat milk and honey. Your kids won’t even know that they just ate a serving of spinach!
Consider yogurt type
Yogurt is a staple for making creamy and delicious smoothies, but you could be packing in the calories, fat and sugar without even knowing it, making your smoothie anything but healthy. Just one cup of flavored fruit yogurt can contain nearly 30 grams of sugar! Instead, look for non-fat and reduced-sugar yogurt varieties. Greek yogurt is also a great option – it provides thickness to smoothies with typically less sugar and twice the amount of calcium, according to Eating Well.
“Look for non-fat and reduced-sugar yogurt varieties.”
Using frozen fruit and yogurt to create smoothies will almost have kids thinking they’re enjoying ice cream instead. Swap fresh fruit for frozen, which you can buy in bulk to keep in the freezer, and instead of regular yogurt, use low-fat, reduced sugar frozen yogurt. Rachel Ray offered the helpful tip of freezing ripe or overripe peeled bananas in a zip-close bag for future use.
Make smoothies inspired by their favorite treats
If your kids won’t give smoothies a shot – or prefer milkshakes and other treats topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce – then try creating healthy smoothie versions of their favorite snacks and desserts.
For a PB&J smoothie: Blend together peanut butter, raspberries, bananas and Greek yogurt. Do your kids have a craving for strawberry shortcake? You can blend together fresh strawberries, rolled oats, almond milk, plain yogurt and a dash of vanilla. You can even create a healthy smoothie inspired by a banana split: Just combine frozen bananas, non-fat vanilla-flavored frozen yogurt, frozen cherries and a spoonful of grated dark chocolate.
Whatever the treat, there’s a healthy smoothie version that you can create right in your kitchen.
Involve kids in prep
The wonder of smoothies is that with a little prep, they can take just seconds to prepare. Buy bulk bags of frozen fruits and vegetables to keep handy in the freezer. If you and your kids prefer fresh fruit, chop the fruits and veggies at the beginning of the week and store them in containers in the fridge for easy access. Get your kids on the smoothie train by letting them help make their own smoothies. Assemble the ingredients in bowls on the counter, and let them pick and choose what they’d like to have in their smoothie. You’ll do the blending for safety, but kids will be more likely to enjoy it if they made it themselves.