It’s no secret that kids can be particularly picky eaters—and if your little one is ill or has recently had a medical procedure, getting them to eat what they need to heal is especially trying. While they’re not quite on-level with a frosty, creamy milkshake, smoothies are a great way to give your kids the nutrients they need. But how do you convince your child that pulverized kale is good?
The short answer is that you don’t; instead, you create a healthy, delicious smoothie that feels like a special treat (and leaves you feeling great about what you’re feeding them).
Follow these steps to create an easy, tasty smoothie that’s kid-approved:
1. Choose the perfect base for your little one. Depending on their personal preferences, there are a number of healthy options for your liquid base.
- Milk or milk replacement, such as unsweetened almond, coconut, flax, or hazelnut milk
- Purified water
- Unsweetened, caffeine-free tea (such as rooibos, chamomile, tulsi, hibiscus, or honeybush)
- Freshly juiced juice (apple and pear are great choices for kids)
Start with 8 – 14 oz. of your chosen base before moving on to the next step.
2. Add your fruit and/or vegetables. If your child isn’t the biggest fan of veggies, keep your vegetable ratio low and mask the flavor with tasty, sweet, nutritious fruits. Here are some great combos that taste great and are jam-packed with healthy nutrients:
- 1 cup of kale + 1/2 cup blueberries + 1/2 cup mango
- 1/2 cup cucumber + 1/2 cup spinach + 1 cup strawberries
- 1 cup mango + 1/2 cup banana + 1/2 cup strawberries
You can tweak the measurements as needed to create the right flavor for your child.
Bonus tip: Use unsweetened, frozen fruit or add ice to give the smoothie some extra froth and a refreshing taste.
3. Add protein & texture. Protein is not only an important part of your child’s diet, it’s also a great way to add extra flavor and an awesome texture to smoothies. Make sure your chosen protein pairs well with previous ingredients.
- Plain Greek yogurt (tastes great with fruit, is a healthy fat, & makes smoothies extra creamy)
- Peanut butter (try it with berries for an interesting take on PB&J)
- Whole almonds, almond butter, or other nut butters (hazelnut, sunflower, or macadamia)
- Avocado (goes great with naturally sweeter fruits and is considered a superfood)
You’ll want to add around ½ cup, but you can adjust as needed for texture and flavor.
4. Sweeten things up. Adding some extra sweetness or spice might just be what takes your child’s smoothing from YUCK! to yum. It’s important not to pack in calories or too much sugar, so try blending in one or more of these options (added to taste):
- A few dribbles of honey, pure maple syrup, or agave nectar
- An organic date(s)
- Coconut sugar, Lo Han, Stevia or Xylitol can be used in moderation
- A pinch of cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg are great options for enriching the flavor of smoothies with apples or peaches
- Raw cacao or cocoa powder not only taste great with peanut butter but also have numerous health benefits
5. Don’t get discouraged! It may take a few tries to master something your child will love. Try involving them in the process early on so they feel they are part of the final results. Play around with flavors, taste ingredients as you go, and make the experience fun and educational.
Good luck, and here’s to smooth blending!
Win a copy of Dr. Gregory A. Buford’s newest book “Eat, Drink, Heal: The Art and Science of Surgical Nutrition“!