How to Introduce Your Child to Smoothies + 15 Kid-Friendly Smoothie Recipes
Oh, how my Alice loves her smoothies. I could give them to her for three meals a day and she would be as happy as a clam. She guzzles them down without blinking an eye, despite them being full of super healthy raw fruits and veggies that she often turns her pretty little nose up to if I just put them on the plate in front of her (I suppose a 3-year-old has to explore the little power that a 3-year-old has in her life...in the form of rejecting a beautiful baby spinach salad, but I digress). So how did Alice come to love smoothies as deeply and passionately as she does? By starting her young and taking smoothie baby steps.
The other afternoon, I was on the playground with Alice and some of our neighbors. My friend, Morganne, was talking about how her 1-year-old had not warmed to the idea of eating most fruits and vegetables.
"I don't know how to get him to eat them," she said as we simultaneously pushed our kiddos on the swings. As a teacher, I've heard so many parents struggle with getting their children to eat any fruit or vegetable. It's a common issue that requires patience, persistence, a bit of sneakiness, and a blender.
"Have you tried smoothies?" I asked her. Her eyes got wide as she paused pushing her son on the swing for a moment.
"No! That's a good idea!" she replied. We went on to talk about how to ease fruit and veggie rich smoothies into her son's diet without overwhelming his little taste buds.
"I'm going to try that!" Morganne enthusiastically stated, as we parted ways for dinnertime. And sure enough, the next day, I received a gleeful text from her, sharing that she had gotten her son to drink a strawberry apple smoothie. The first step in her little guy embracing my two favorite food groups into his diet. An absolute victory.
So, how do you get your child into the smoothie habit? What do you put in a smoothie that will taste good? Where do you even start? First things first, my friends. Go get the blender and read about my tips for introducing your child to smoothies.
Step 1. Start with the familiar . Chances are, if your child has never eaten a green veggie and you throw a kale smoothie in front of her, she is going to reject it. Start making smoothies with things that your kiddo is already madly in love with so that they can warm up to the idea of smoothies. Make it a fun thing to create together and enjoy it together. If you want your kiddo to drink it, make sure you are drinking it too. Those little eyes are noticing everything that you do and eat.
Step 2. Now start adding in some new items. Great, Junior is loving his banana strawberry smoothie every morning! Now is the time to try throwing in a small handful of spinach to the blender with the other usual ingredients. Will he notice the change in color? Sure, but chances are he will be much more likely to give this new green drink a chance because he remembers how much he liked the other smoothies. If he totally rejects it, maybe try adding a carrot or half of an avocado to the smoothie instead of the spinach (for now). I'm a big believer in putting veggies in smoothies. The natural sweetness of fruit helps to make the flavors of vegetables that children often reject much more palatable, so smoothies are an excellent way of making sure your child is getting part of his/her daily veggie serving. It is also a great way to start getting them used to those "hidden" flavors. Kale on it's own won't seem like such a bizarre flavor to your child once he/she has been subconsciously been loving it in the morning smoothie.
Step 3. Awesome! Now keep adding vegetables! Like I said, fruit is naturally super sweet, but fruit is also pretty high in natural sugars. There is enough sugar in the world that we are trying to minimize in our children's diets and even too much natural sugar isn't a good thing. Smoothies are an awesome way to get your children used to eating fruits and veggies, so make sure you are utilizing them for all they are worth! Try putting only 1 banana in the smoothie and adding a a small piece of cooked beet (beets are super sweet when cooked and excellent in smoothies, I promise). Allow yourself to get all mad scientist in the kitchen and try playing with your smoothie recipes so that you have close to a 50/50 fruit/veggie ratio. If your child resists, don't give up. Play with the recipe and keep offering. Over time, your child's taste buds can and will change to enjoy these new, less sweet smoothies.
Step 4. Now put your child in charge of smoothie making! Your child is really starting to love his/her morning smoothie. Keep the love and interest going by making them the official smoothie chef of the house! Encourage them to try new flavor combinations (and be willing to suck those puppies down with a smile on your face in the name of healthy kiddos). I've said it before and I will say it again, a child who feels invested and a part of healthy food is going to love it even more.
Need a few smoothie recipes to get your smoothie habit going? Here are 15 kid-friendly smoothies that are easy to make, loaded with lots of healthy goodness, and an excellent jumping off point for new smoothie-goers.
15 Kid-Friendly Smoothie Recipes
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