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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

5 Tips For Getting Kids To Drink Green Smoothies + Beginner Recipe!

We all know how hard it is to get kids (and some adults!) to eat their vegetables.  Let's face it, a bowl of broccoli is never going to be appealing as a chocolate chip cookie.  When my first son was a baby, I spent a lot of time preparing purees from steamed veggies, that I would separate into 1/2 cup portions, and freeze in baggies.  Then I would sneak them into any meals I was making.  It worked like a charm, but with each additional child it just became too time consuming.  And there were too many days where the macaroni and cheese was done but I had forgotten to defrost the cauliflower puree to sneak in. 
When we purchased our Vitamix, we all became healthier.  Now my husband and I just make a little extra "juice" in the morning, and give each boy their daily dose of veggies.  We are done stressing about them eating their vegetables the rest of the day, although they both have a few favorites that they love to eat.  Not only is this juice so much healthier than the sugar packed, heat treated juice on the store (heat kills the enzymes in fruits and veggies), but we are able to hide things in there that you could never find in your regular bottle of apple juice.  Brussel sprouts, anyone?  After years of bribing our kids to drink these green smoothies, we have come up with a few tips and tricks. 

1.  Get the Kids Involved -  This starts at the grocery store.  Explain to them beforehand that you are going to start making special drinks, and they get to choose what is in them.  Maybe at first they just want to pick fruits.  This is where I told them that it's "Magic Juice," and if they picked a vegetable I would prove it to them that the blender would magically make the taste disappear.  Now they were intrigued.  
2.  Pick the Right Produce - After they pick their choices, stock your cart with kid friendly picks.  My favorites fruits for kids are pineapple (frozen makes your life easier), grapes, apples, bananas, and strawberries.  These are all super sweet and really hide the taste of greens.  A half a lemon or lime is also helpful in cutting the grassy taste.  For vegetables, greens like baby spinach and lettuces are great to begin with.  Also, beets make a wonderfully sweet juice, as do carrots.  Cucumber and celery are easily thrown in, and start small with powerhouses like kale, swiss chard, and collard greens.  While very nutritious, a little goes a long way with kids.  My boys also like frozen berries and cherries, sometimes with a little milk thrown in to make it creamy.  Oh, and add enough water to make it thinner like a juice, if it's too thick, they won't drink it.   
3.  Let Them Help With the Prep, and Turn It Into a Game -  Washing the produce, chopping the greens with a child safe knife, and dropping the chunks of produce in the (unplugged!) blender go a long way towards getting them excited about their juice.  My kids still fight over who gets to turn the blender on.  Once the juice is made, we "cheers" and have a race to see who finishes first.  I pretend to get mad when they are beating me.  For the first few times, it's helpful to bribe them with a treat.  Hey, it's ok, they are learning a new healthy habit and need to be convinced!  It will pay off in the long run. 
4.  Treat Them To Their Own Special Cup and Straw - After you have gotten them into the habit of drinking these green smoothies, let them pick out a special new glass and straw to drink it out of.  Kids love things like this.  Then each morning while you are making the juice, you can tell them to get their own cup out. 
5.  Funny Names - We have had Monster Slimes, John Deere Green Juice, Berry Blasters, Morning Sunshines, Blueberry Boats, Silly Smoothie, and countless other names for our drinks.  Sometimes when they start to whine that they don't want a juice that day, I tell them, "but wait, this is the Pineapple Pirate, you haven't had this one yet!" and their little kid brains are interested again, long enough to drink it.

Here is a great green recipe to start with.  After you get this one down, you can experiment with different produce and make your "green" drinks every color of the rainbow!

Beginner Green Smoothie Recipe:

1/4 cucumber (if it's not wrapped in plastic, be sure to peel the waxed skin)
1 banana
1 green apple (seeds and stem removed)
1/2 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup kale
3/4 cup green grapes (or frozen pineapple)
1/2 lime, peeled
4 asparagus spears
1 cup water

Place the watery fruits and veggies in the blender first, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Blend until smooth. 

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