If you know me personally, especially if you are a mom, you’ve heard me talk about smoothies. Green smoothies, purple smoothies, orange smoothies–in our house, we love them. The boy especially loves them. And when the girl finally decides to take a sip of one (I usually pour her a few tablespoons and she carries the cup around the house, shaking it, toppling it, and generally threatening the upholstery), I’m sure she’ll love them, too.
Now, a lot of smoothies call for added sweeteners like honey or agave syrup, but I’ve always resisted that. I sweeten with fruit: banana and pineapple are the most effective. And yes, I know: fruit sugar is still sugar. But somehow it makes me feel better–like at least this sugar comes with some fiber or potassium or vitamin C. (Okay, I just looked up the health benefits of clover honey and who knows if this webpage is reliable but it does sound like pretty good stuff–still, the boy started drinking these before his first birthday and they say no honey before one on account of botulism or something, and we got into our habits and blah blah blah.) Anyhow, while we do mix it up (especially if we need to hit the grocery store), here’s our general formula for a toddler-friendly smoothie that even Mommy (with her sugar-addled tastebuds) can enjoy:
1 large leaf or 2 small leaves kale (about a handful of greens)
1/2 to 1 banana (depending on size of banana and sweetness of frozen fruit)
big handful of frozen fruit (if you’re using blueberries or peaches, maybe a whole banana; if you’re using pineapple or mango, maybe half)
maybe a cup of unsweetened almond milk
Super precise, right? Well, it gets the job done. Sometimes I add wheat germ or probiotics. If I’m out of kale I sub in spinach or baby carrots. Out of bananas? Try plain Greek yogurt (and maybe use a sweeter frozen fruit). Out of frozen fruit? Regular fruit will do. Baby took three bites out of an apple and left the rest? Chuck it in the smoothie. Same for chewed-on strawberries and sometimes strawberry tops. (The apples and strawberry carnage sometimes go to our chickens; those ladies love their fruit–but if you don’t have chickens, voila! A handy use for leftovers!)
There was a time when the boy was so impatient to get into these smoothies that he wouldn’t let me blend them all the way. I took to calling them “chunkies” or “salad in a cup”. You could actually see him chewing them. He would pick whatever he could out of the blender before you could get the top on to blend it, including chunks of kale. At this point, I never shared his smoothies because I couldn’t stomach them, and when I held some back to reblend it, the proportions would be off or he’d actually get upset that I had second-guessed his smoothie knowledge. That, or I just didn’t want to drink smoothies, no matter how much my body could have used the nutrients. Because even if they’re sweet and tasty, they’re not milkshakes, you know? But lately, I’ve been thinking I need to double the recipe and pour myself a cup, too. Because I’m long overdue for the January diet and I’m not following through on my resolution to eat salad. And we have the fancy blender now because all those smoothies wore out our old one. And if I make the kids eat their veggies, I should too–right?