Friday, May 2, 2008
As part of my presentation this coming Monday evening for the Eugene Veg Education Network, I will be demonstrating recipes including a few of our favorite snacks, a lunchtime treat, and our favorite SMOOTHIE, a cherry, spinach, banana mixture everyone will love! Here's a piece called Totally Smoothie I wrote for VegFamily years ago, that seems as timely as ever.
by Ginger Carlson
Let's make it GREEN!" My son joyfully squeals while tossing a handful of fresh organic spinach atop bananas, rice milk, peaches and almond butter into the family blender. Liquefy. Stir. Chop. Pulse. "Green Smoothie!" he cries out in celebration jumping up and down on his stool. His delight is truly scrumptious, as is his breakfast.
Oh, the magic of the blender, the most forgiving tool in our busy lives and kitchens today. Getting our toddlers and young children to eat their share of whole fruits and veggies (or even any at all) can sometimes be a struggle. Spending some time getting to know smoothies may help your young child get those much needed nutrients, with the added bonus of being a way to connect with your kids and spark creative fun in the kitchen.
Smoothies offer a way to make your child's daily whole foods quota. Recent reports by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association show that toddler consumption of dark, green, leafy vegetables has become increasingly low and that fewer than 10% of all infants and toddlers consume ANY green leafies in a given day. Whole fruits and other vegetables are increasingly absent from the diet of young Americans as well. Smoothies can be our baby-step personal solution to this national problem.
Via the all-amazing smoothie, the kitchen has the great potential to become your very own investigational lab. Use a smoothie to explore ways to 'get them to eat their veggies' while providing an opportunity to problem solve ("It's too thick, what should we do?") and think outside the box, in this case, to think outside the recipe. Give ownership to the smoothie experience by allowing your child to get creative with what goes in it. She'll soon find out the joy of mixing colors and what it takes to make a purple, pink, green, orange, brown or white smoothie. As you experiment with your blender, you'll likely find that there really isn't a need for recipes and you can feel confident that there isn't a more ideal way to encourage inquiry and exploration in your young children. With a smoothie, it is nearly impossible to fail. And it's the trial and error, like all things we learn, that will help us, and our kids, to become more in tune with our creativity and become better problem solvers.
Smoothies are a wonderful way for your family to take advantage of the many benefits of raw foods. "We can expose more nutrients by blending, pureeing, and juicing. This keeps the vitamins intact, as well as the enzymes, and accomplishes the goal of steaming without any loss of food value," says David Wolfe, CEO of rawfood.com and author of Eating for Beauty. "Juicing, blending, and pureeing is a way of breaking up fiber without corrupting by heat the integrity of the fiber itself, the nutrients contained in the plant cell, and the quality of the water in the food." When you turn on the blender, you instantly win half the battle by eliminating the texture of a new raw food while enjoying a nutrient rich meal.
Even the savviest little palate will often have difficulty identifying all the nutritious ingredients in a smoothie. Because veggies and other ingredients blend so nicely, the only evidence of their presence in a smoothie will sometimes be the color. So it is easy to get added doses of protein by adding nut butters, avocados, soft tofu, soy milk or yogurt. Experiment with wheat germ, rice milk and flax seed for added grains. Sneak in kale, spinach or other leafy greens, peas, pumpkin, squash or tomato juice. Use soluble fibers such as oat bran, brown rice and your own variation of favorite fruits such as berries, grapefruit, oranges, melons, peaches, pears or pineapple. Add carrots, cucumber, cauliflower, or zucchini. Complete your meal with an alternative to refined sweeteners like molasses, honey, or maple syrup, but realize that the perfect smoothie need not be sweetened up any more than the natural sweetness that the fruit provides. Sometimes just adding a bit of fresh squeezed beet or carrot juice, or rice or vanilla soy milk can be enough to sweeten a smoothie to your child's liking. Of course, before blending, make sure your child is not allergic to those 'hidden' ingredients.
Smoothies are an all around perfect snack or meal for the young child. They are fast, convenient, affordable, satisfying, a tool to spark creativity, and let's not forget nutritious. So give it a whirl; energize your kids and yourself with a smoothie and devour those nutrients, along with the fun!
See it on VegFamily.
Posted by Ginger Carlson, author at 7:48 AM