Our toddler son, Ciro, always seemed to want his smoothie in the same cup – that is, until the day I made him a smoothie he didn’t like. I don’t even remember what I put in it, but I could tell by the look on his face after taking that first sip that it tasted like blended betrayal. Had I ruined smoothies for him, forever?
I hoped not, because smoothies are one of my favorite, easy ways to make sure my kids are taking in healthy nutrients.
Suddenly I remembered the trip we took to Mexico for our honeymoon all those years ago, and how at the resort they were serving up Pina Coladas in this ridiculously fun-looking coconut “cup”. You guys, the thing had ears. But I hated Pina Coladas! Five minutes later, fun cup in hand, I’d suddenly gone from hater to some kind of connoisseur. So I had an idea: I gave Ciro a new, fun cup for his smoothie, hoping he’d at least try it again, and I stepped up my smoothie game. It worked! Sometimes that’s all it takes with a toddler (and an adult): serving it up in a fun cup.
But let me get to the good stuff. As much as we try to do our best when it comes to eating healthy, not every day is a win. Sometimes the toddler starts throwing a fit, the baby has a fever, and well, life gets in the way.
But one of the things that has been a huge saving grace for us, is smoothies. Even when we have those bad days or rough weeks, I love that we can make something fun that my kids see as a treat, and I see as a great way to get some nutrients into their diets.
And as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, lots of us will be more on the go, go, GO – so let’s get some ideas for a perfect afternoon smoothie snack that keeps us cool, healthy, and fulfilled, no matter what the dinnertime madness may bring.
5 Healthy Smoothie Options for Babies, Toddlers and Families
Before we get started on the recipes, here are some of my favorite tips for when making smoothies:
Rotate greens. We rotate greens to switch around flavors and avoid anyone getting “taste fatigue”, and also to be sure we are getting a nice array of vitamins. Varieties of greens for our smoothie base are: cucumber, spinach (frozen is fine), celery, beet greens, kale, microgreens (my new favorite), and romaine lettuce.
For fruits, think in color. Mango, pineapple, pear, blueberries, strawberries, peach…you can probably already visualize how enticing each will look. Thinking in terms of colors will help you get the widest array of vitamins. For instance, if you made a red smoothie last week, switch over to the yellow colored fruits. Also, purchase what’s in season – these fruits usually offer the best flavors.
Toss in a healthy fat. A great way to incorporate a healthy fat into your family’s diet is to add a small amount right into the blender. We rotate between walnuts, avocado, coconut oil, grass-fed ghee, or a handful of seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds or hemp seeds. We also sometimes add a tablespoon of nut butter, such as almond or cashew.
Add an herb or spice. By now we don’t have to tell you how much we love herbs and spices in our foods, and smoothies are no exception. A shake of cinnamon, some ground cardamom, some fresh parsley, ginger, or turmeric can go a long way in both flavor and nutrients.
Bonus ingredients. In our house we’ve had to do a lot of trouble-shooting with Ciro’s diet because he suffered chronic constipation. To help him along we’ve added flax oil (1 tsp.) and aloe vera juice (1 oz) to his smoothies. We’ve also added blackstrap molasses to increase the whole family’s iron intake. (This is great for pregnant mamas, too!)
Add a liquid base. Many times it’s just plain old water, but sometimes we will add an unsweetened nut milk as the base of our smoothie.
Now, some of our favorite smoothie combos!
Mix and match with any of the combinations below to get started. Remember, if it’s too thick, simply add more water or liquid base. Each of these will provide 2-3 servings.
- spinach (2 cups) + mango (2 cups) + walnut (1/4 cup) + water (2 cups) + turmeric (1/4 tsp) + honey (1 tbsp)
- cucumber (2 cups) + pear (2 cups) + almond milk (2 cups) + cardamom (1/4 tsp) + dates (2 pitted)
- celery (1 cup) + carrot (1 cup) berries (2 cups) + banana (1) + cinnamon (1/2 tsp) + honey (1 tbsp)
- avocado (1 cup) + banana (1) + almond milk (2 cups) + cocoa powder (2 tsp) + honey (1 tbsp) + cinnamon (1/2 tsp.) (this one is a favorite from our What a Good Eater! cookbook)
- microgreens (1 cup) + celery (1 cup) + cherries (1/2 cup) + apples (1/2 cup) + water (2 cups) + ginger (1/2 tsp)
Boost any of the above with any of the following: handful of walnuts; tablespoon of coconut oil/grass-fed ghee; a handful of seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds or hemp seeds; or a a tablespoon of nut butter, such as almond or cashew; a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses for added iron.
And, of course, learn from my mistakes and don’t forget to serve it in a fun cup 😉
Did you find these ideas helpful? For more healthy snack ideas and recipes by age, check out our cookbook What a Good Eater! for baby & toddler recipes with healthy herbs and spices to add flavor and broaden your baby’s palette, now available on Amazon! If you enjoyed this post, sign up to receive our newsletter for other great ideas on feeding your baby, toddler, and family.
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