All you need is a blender, a handful of fruits and veggies, and a willingness to experiment and have fun with your children. With spring blossoming everywhere around us, this is the perfect season to acquire a whole–year–round habit that could be the best health–boosting choice for both you and your child. Promoting health and energy is as easy as making wonderful concoctions of fruit and vegetable elixirs!
Here is my first non–exhaustive quick list of why home–made smoothies are great for our children (scroll down for an easy, basic, child–friendly recipe to start blending immediately!):
- It is yummy! Most kids love the consistency and flavour of rich, creamy, nutrient-packed and brightly coloured smoothies.
- You can hide veggies inside. Even the ones they absolutely don’t like. Fiber and essential nutrients are so cleverly added to their drink, often even without them realizing it. Many children today are overfed and undernourished. A smoothie is a whole lot of good nutrients in a small jar.
- Sleep. Consuming healthy smoothies helps towards improved digestion, thus avoiding constipation or indigestion and promoting a good night sleep. Win–win.
- Detox. While we tend to think at detoxification as an adult thing, the truth is that unfortunately many toxins can reach our children too. I am thinking about man–made chemicals, found in soaps, detergents, shampoos, plastics. Not to mention the additives and preservatives in most of the processed food that is marketed towards children especially. Our children, like us, are constantly bombarded by thousands of different intoxicating chemicals. To make a detox smoothie, you can simply add a small handful of kale, half of an avocado, few slices of bell pepper, few blackberries, some broccoli florets, or half a banana to it.
- Healthy growth. Their body is continually lengthening, growing and developing. Fruits and veggies help this growth, as it is easier to assimilate the nutrients and absorb the vitamins in a smoothie as opposed to a traditional meal. Also, a smoothie is the perfect answer to the great amount of energy a child typically needs in the short term for his or her busy days in school and at home – playing, running, laughing, learning, jumping and climbing.
- Nutritional education for life. By seeing you following a healthy diet and offering the same benefits to them, your children will learn that another way of treating our body is possible, different and alternative to the mainstream junk food culture. Nothing is so important for our health as the food we eat, and the intentions we eat it with. I strongly believe that children learn from example and preaching is not enough: take out your blender from the cupboard and start chopping together!
- No more cravings. A smoothie strategically placed at 4 pm could avoid your child’s cravings for junk food – it is more unlikely they’d crave for chips when their tummy is full of strawberries, blueberries and spinach. Remember to add some nuts (if not allergic obviously) for optimal vegetable oils intake and creamy consistency. Almonds are my all–time favourites, but cashews and brazil nuts work very well indeed. I also put chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds as a routine for the added health benefits: proteins, essential fatty acids, omega 3 that build healthy bones, protect the heart, lower LDL cholesterol (the baddy one) and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Feed their brain! A smoothie contains many vitamins, minerals and nutrients (all concentrated in a easy absorbable drink) that the brain needs for focus, memory and concentration.
- Have fun together! My children love selecting the fruits and vegetables at our local farmers’ market with me. They love washing, chopping and blending. They take turns on who is going to push the blender’s button every time. Making smoothies is a morning and afternoon ritual, with the tasting part being their favourite of all.
- Get creative. The more colours, the better. Let your child choose the fruit and the veggies, and compare different results in colour and taste. Remember though to always add some fats – it is needed if you want your child’s body to assimilate the vitamins. Coconut oil, nuts, peanut butter, or (if you eat animal fats) cream, yogurt, or full fat milk.
- Better that taking multi–vitamins. A smoothie a day is usually enough to give a child the essential vitamins that his body needs. In spite of all the marketing efforts, multivitamins are not regulated in many countries, such as the U.S., and their efficacy is far from being proven. If you want your child to assimilate essential vitamins and minerals, the safest and most natural way is… through food, as our ancestors have done for thousand of years.
I know it is tempting to buy a prepackaged smoothie from the supermarket. Choosing the right one, with absolutely nothing else added but the fruit and veggies, is better for your child than not to drink any smoothies at all. Just avoid at all cost juices, fizzy drinks and mysterious blends with “from concentrate” written on the package.
In all honestly though, when you start making your own smoothies at home and see how easy it is (even good fun if you engage your child in the process) – I bet you will never go back to buy the pre–packaged ones. The health benefits of a fresh smoothie versus a pasteurized one are endless. The taste is better. The cost is significantly lower.
This smoothie-era has just started in my life. I confess I had a rough patch in the last three months, and my immune system was quite low – I went from a little (or not-so-little) health problem to the next, not really knowing what was wrong with me. I decided I had enough when my doctor prescribed my second round of antibiotics in a month. I did my researches. And decided, with no doubts, that I needed to start absorbing more good nutrients, and I needed to do it now. Off I went, after reading reviews and always keeping in mind my budget, to buy a Nutribullet. I found it online. You can find it here if you are in the UK and here if you are in the US. This blog post is not sponsored by them, by the way!). It was love at first smoothie.
As promised, here’s my easy, quick and child–friendlissimo first smoothie recipe. My daughter Isabella invented it so she is going to have all the credit for it:
Isabella’s Smoothie recipe:
- 2 carrots
- 5 baby spinach leaves
- 5 wild rocket leaves
- 5 lamb’s lettuce leaves
- one thin slice of gala melon
- 5 strawberries
- 20 blueberries
- 20 raspberries
- one whole pear (skin included, if organic)
- one slice of an orange
- an apple
- a quarter of a mango
- 5 almonds
- 5 dried goji berries
- one spoonful of flaxseeds
Wash, chop and finally blend all ingredients together. Enjoy at room temperature or let it seat in the fridge for half an hour.
I sometimes use green smoothies as “side dishes” of my lunch, but they also make perfect meals on their own.
As you can imagine, there are going to be more posts about this smoothie mania of mine.
There is a lot to say about different ingredient’s properties, how to choose the fruit and vegetables, when to go organic (quick answer: as often as possible), how to make smoothies on a budget, why the sugar from fruit is assimilated in a different, healthier, way from our body than the refined ones (check here my post about my no sugar choice), and naturally, lots of more recipes!
In the meantimes, if you want to start straight away with many different smoothies (I recommend it, don’t waste another minute being overfed and undernourished!), I adore Kris Carr’s classic book Crazy Sexy Juice: you find it on Amazon UK or Amazon US.
Hope this serves you and your child.