Updated: Mar 27
Sometimes as parents we just need that thing that we can pull out of our tool kit that works like a charm. For nutrition, I would definitely say smoothies can be it! I am not kidding when I say that we can easily use smoothies as our secret weapon when it comes to ensuring our kids are getting essential nutrients!
My son loves to wake up and “cook a smoothie” with mama almost every morning. I love it for both eating while at home and on the go because really it takes less than 5 minutes,has all he needs for a well rounded meal and I can get in some other really nourishing foods as well. It’s also a fun way for him to help me and get involved in making his foods and is really a great bonding time to start our day! Sidenote– we got him one of those kitchen helpers for christmas and it was by far one of the best purchases we have ever made! He will go in the pantry where we store it (which isnt always ideal because he can climb up and see the snacks and reach them when I’m not really wanting him to be snacking) and he will push it out into the kitchen and up to the counter and can stand right there and help me. I let him help pour in the ingredients and use it as a time to have him work on his counting with the # of scoops and strawberries that we add.
I love smoothies for breakfast because it is a great way to get balanced protein, fat and carbohydrates for breakfast. So often our breakfasts are very carb & sugar heavy (cereal, pop tarts, muffins, donuts, etc.) and greatly lack healthy fats and most importantly protein! This causes a huge crash in kids blood sugar and really is not setting them up to start the day in a healthy way (especially for school age kids who are needing to learn and focus). They are perfect for drinking at home and even easier for taking in the car. I had gotten in the habit of giving my son a fruit & vegetable pouch & granola bites because I found clean brands that I like and felt like it was a better option in this season where we are busy and don’t have a lot of time. But I realized that this was missing the protein and the healthy fat that he needed to keep him full. Making the smoothie took a couple extra minutes but it was giving him much better nutrition. Do we sometimes grab those easy things, of course! But, we’ve tried to make that the exception and not the norm. And let me just tell you there is absolutely no reason you cant use smoothies for meals other than breakfast as well. If your kid isnt feeling well or doesnt have much of an appetite that day–go for the smoothie. This could also be a great after school or afternoon snack!
If I have patients in the clinic who are super picky eaters I always recommend parents try smoothies! The nice thing is you can always mask the flavor with something they love like bananas or peanut butter or strawberries and slowly increase the things you are wanting them to eat more of! Some kids you might want or need to “hide” things in their smoothies and other kids you can talk to them about the great benefits of each of the foods you're adding!
The base of the smoothie really is endless! We like to use protein powder, almond milk, frozen fruit, frozen kale or spinach, and a little bit of ice. Sometimes we add in oats. You can use yogurt, coconut milk, oat milk, cow's milk or other milk alternatives. I advise staying away from adding fruit juice as a base just because this is unnecessary sugar! I will put a link to a resource on protein needs for each age group so that you are keeping this in mind when constructing your smoothie!
Smoothies are a perfect way to add in extra fruits and vegetables for your kids. Get extra greens by adding kale, spinach or other greens. Frozen Cauliflower can give it almost a creamer consistency. You can do fresh or frozen greens. Try experimenting by adding other veggies like zucchini, or cucumbers as well.
Strawberries, bananas, mango, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries are all easy additions to smoothies (either fresh or frozen). Fresh fruits will retain more of their nutrients than frozen but sometimes frozen are just more convenient. One nice way to use produce that is going bad is to throw it in the freezer for easy smoothie use! I like to stock up on frozen fruits and veggies from either costco or aldi so that we always have something on hand.
Another awesome thing about smoothies is it is an easy way to give kids their daily supplements. I love adding fish oil and my sons probiotic right into his smoothie. The nice thing about probiotics is that you can open up capsules and put them right in! There are also powdered probiotics that also could be easily added. You could always add in a daily multivitamin to the smoothie if that can be hard to get in or remember. (Mary Ruth’s) is a brand that I’ve been recommending because a lot of the big box stores have it and it is more of a clean brand with options such as multivitamin, fish oil, probiotics.
Smoothies are a great way to get healthy fats into the diet. We do a variety of different fats for our smoothies. We sometimes use almond, cashew or peanut butter. We also love to add chia seeds which are great for brain health. Chia seeds are a great source of Protein, fiber and healthy omega 3 fats. Avocado can also be a great addition for healthy fats and a creamy consistency. Even something like a spoonful of coconut oil is a great and easy way to get these healthy fats added and might be a good idea if your child struggles with constipation.
You can add extra fiber to the diet by adding in ground flax seeds which are also rich in antioxidants and omegas 3 fatty acids.
Really the possibilities for smoothies are endless. Use it as a way to not only get nutrients into your kids diet, but get creative and have a fun time “cooking” together as well as using up produce that you already have on hand. One thing that is really important is increasing the variety of foods in our kids' diets so that we are offering them as many different nutrients from foods as possible– this is a fun and easy way to do that as well. I hope that you can use smoothies as your secret weapon too! Don’t forget to share this with someone else who needs extra tools for parenthood in their tool belt.
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