Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tips for Kid-Friendly Green Smoothies

Green smoothies (or orange, pink, purple, or red) are one of this Granola Mama's crunchy little secrets to getting healthy foods into her kiddos.  All manner of good things my children might not otherwise eat they will happily consume in the form of a smoothie and green smoothies are one of my favorite treats, as well.

From kale to spinach to carrots and even pureed sweet potato or pumpkin, adding a little extra veggie dose in our fruit smoothies has become a regular part of the rhythm of our days.  In fact, we usually have a smoothie in the color of the day as part of our afternoon snack, though sometimes we have them for breakfast or with lunch, too.  I've even made popsicles out of them.

You can, too!

First of all, don't let my use of the word "crunchy" scare you:  you can have a lovely, smooth, non-lumpy smoothie, even with lots of green gorgeous veggies in it, if you've got a decent blender (mine is a simple, inexpensive one from a big box store that has been doing the pureeing job just fine for quite a while now).

Here are a few tips I've picked up over the years for serving up kid-friendly green smoothies:


Make it a family affair:  enjoy green smoothies together!

When adding veggies, start out small at first and gradually increase the amount you serve to your children each time. When they start complaining, you'll know you've hit their flavor limit and next time you can back it down a notch. Initially I was a little timid about adding greens and was putting just a small handful into our smoothies, but now I'm to the point with my family where I can put in a couple of pretty big handfuls of spinach or kale and no one notices or complains about the taste.

If you're concerned about the color, and some combinations will be bright green, but still want to add some veggies, a tip I learned form my cousin Tricia is to add a handful of baby carrots.  The carrots will hide in a smoothie without much color change (we do this for orange or red smoothies). "Green" smoothies don't have to be green to be good for you.

For some kids the bright green color will be appealing.  That's fantastic! Go with it!

For other kids, green will be a turn off. Blueberries will hide the green color pretty well if you have a child who won't touch a green drink and you do want to include a green veggie like spinach or kale.

Frozen fruits with a brighter taste on the palate, like pineapple or peaches, will cover the flavor of spinach and kale as well.  Honestly, I don't even taste it and my husband, who is pretty picky, doesn't either.

Put the veggies in the blender first and puree them with a bit of almond milk, milk, orange juice, or whatever liquid you're using to make sure you get all the "chunks" out.  Then add your frozen fruit, yogurt, banana, or whatever else you are mixing in.

Use the "pulse" setting on your blender and go in short bursts at a time so you won't burn out your blender (unless you have one of those fancy blenders or smoothie makers whose motor can take a lot of frozen fruit or ice).

I don't hide the fact that I'm putting veggies in the smoothies, but I don't exactly fuss over it or make a big deal about it either.  I want this to to seem like a perfectly natural, normal thing to drink.  Any hint of "weird" and at least two of my children won't touch it, no matter how good it is.

We alternate between spinach and kale in our smoothies.  I'll buy a big bunch of kale one week and spinach the next.

Adding a banana helps to make it a creamier smoothie.  Readers have suggested as nut butters, too.
If your kids aren't crazy about drinking smoothies, perhaps they would prefer a smoothie popsicle instead?

Serve it in a fun container.  We use mason jars in our family, actually I use a mason jar and the kids use jelly jars.  I let the kids pick a favorite color of straw and I'm looking in to making something like this (Waldorf Mama's felted water bottle carriers) to use as a cozy for our jars/glasses.

If using glass makes you leery, what about some cute insulated BPA free mugs that I see folks carrying everywhere? This helps with the kid-appeal and makes it seem like a real treat (which it is, it just happens to be a treat that is also really good for you).

update:  I noticed that Simple Homemade has a Mason jar cozy tutorial that would be cute if you go that route for your smoothie containers. Also, Simple Design has a list of suggestions for Eco-friendly Dishes for Kids.

Do you serve your family "green" (or purple or red or orange) smoothies?  What do they think?  Do you have a favorite combination?  If you aren't making green smoothies, would you consider giving them a try?



  1. We do green smoothies almost daily! We buy a case (40#s) of organic bananas every 2 weeks, and we pick up about 5-6 jars of organic peanut butter. I used to make almond milk for the smoothies, but learned quickly that water tastes just as good and it free :D . So, our fave smoothies is P.B., Frozen bananas and kale!!

  2. Yes! I have a little toddler who used to be an adventurous eater and lately won't eat anything green. But he does love that I make him a smoothie after his afternoon nap every day. I think the advice to make it a family thing is spot-on; part of what he likes so much about our ritual is that I put two straws in the glass and we share it. (Obviously, older kids might not be so into that part! But it's just the togetherness idea.)

    You covered it really well, but I'd also recommend using frozen veggies and fruit. It makes it easy and no-fuss, and it adds a really nice "ice creamy" texture to the smoothie without actual ice cream.

  3. Try frozen fruits and veggies, too! It makes it so easy, with almost no prep, and the texture is much more ice creamy, without actual ice cream. My toddler loves his daily green smoothie.