My motto when working to improve the health of kids is to make ‘every mouthful count’ nutritionally. Here’s how.
No matter what I’m cooking, I’m always thinking in terms of how I can inject more nourishment, especially when feeding my kids. Because children are growing so rapidly, they have a much greater nutritional requirements, yet a smaller capacity to be nourished (smaller stomachs).
One tip I always offer parents of finicky eaters is to work with what they like – so if they like, say, noodle soup, think of adding some vegetables to it next time you make it. Now I know a lot of kids like smoothies and adding fruit is great, but I’d encourage you to also consider the addition of some vegetables for a real nutrient boost. When adding vegetables, start with a small amount and increase the quantity over time. If you happen to overdo it and the kids don’t like the taste of the smoothie, you can always add more fruit, re-blend (and freeze any leftover smoothie into ice blocks/popsicle moulds).
Whilst I am a huge fan of ‘boosting’ nutrition, I’m not a fan of always having to ‘hide’ vegetables for fussy eaters (in the long term at least). Kids have to learn to love veggies in their whole form at some stage and I have lots of tips for raising whole food loving kids over at wellnourished.com.au. Having said that, I do generally choose to ‘boost’ my kids’ smoothies with veggies they generally don’t enjoy eating in their whole form, just to increase their nutritional variety. I figure if they can’t taste it, why not add it?
My kids now know that vegetables belong in smoothies, so when they make their own, they generally add at least one. My 10yo son, who loves to experiment in the kitchen, recently added rocket leaves to a blueberry smoothie he made for the family for breakfast – let’s just say rocket is not on the following list of veggies to add to a smoothie!!
6 veggies that disappear in a smoothie
1. Avocado: Okay, technically a fruit, but seeing as it doesn’t add any sweetness, I’m adding it to my list of nutrient boosters. Why? Avocado is a rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids and one extremely nutrient dense fruit containing a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It really helps a smoothie to be more sustaining and its potassium content makes is great to add to a smoothie before kids’ sport. How? Avocado adds a lovely creamy, mousse like texture to smoothies so add it to your favourite combo. It sits well in a cacao (chocolate) based smoothie or with frozen berries and bananas.
Raw cauliflower is pretty much undetectable in a smoothie. You will just need a good, high-powered blender to process it smooth.
Why? Cauliflower contains a rich supply of health-promoting phytochemicals, especially protective antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It supports digestion and liver detoxification and is a rich source of vitamin C.
How? Break it up into florets, wash and keep in a container to add to your morning smoothie. Because it is white it won’t effect the colour of the smoothie which is a real bonus. Start with one floret and build up to more if you like.
3. Zucchini (courgette)
Zucchini is one of my kids’ least favourite vegetables, especially cooked. But adding it raw into their smoothie, they are none the wiser.
Why? Zucchini (also know as courgette), is extremely low in calories and loaded with fibre. It is also a great source of potassium and vitamin C.
How? Zucchini is very tasteless and also doesn’t effect the colour of a smoothie much so is perfect to add a fibre and nutrient boost to your favourite smoothie. I add about the size of a quarter cup of zucchini to most smoothies.
4. Baby spinach
Baby spinach is also rather tasteless but it does turn smoothies green. So for kids that aren’t keen on ‘green’ – it’s best to blend it with a chocolate smoothie so the colour is disguised.
Why? Spinach is host to a huge variety of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protective plant compounds. It’s just good!
How? As long as the colour isn’t a problem, add a handful to any smoothie. I love to blend it with pineapple, coconut water, lime juice and fresh mint.
5. Sweet potato
Sweet potato can be added to smoothies either raw or cooked. For raw sweet potato you’ll need a powerful blender to ensure it is able to be processed smooth.
Why? Sweet potato is a fibre and beta carotene rich veggie. It is host to good amounts of vitamin C, B vitamins and essential minerals.
How? Add a small piece of raw sweet potato or left over cooked sweet potato to any smoothie. I love raw sweet potato combined with orange and ginger.
Raw beetroot in a smoothie needs to be peeled and you also need a powerful blender to ensure it is able to be processed smooth.
Why? Beetroot is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, detoxifying and extremely nutrient-rich vegetable. Research suggests it improves stamina and sports performance (this fact alone appeals to my sport loving kids).
How? Depending on the size of your beet, you will only need to include a small amount of beetroot. My family loves it blended with berries, chocolate and milk.
I hope this has given you some ideas to supercharge your next smoothie!