I love summer foods. The variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables can keep me fed and happy all summer. My kids, however, don’t appreciate the bounty quite as much. Summer squash, eggplant, asparagus, bell peppers, and tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes do nothing for them. How many times can I feed them watermelon and corn on the cob? (Answer: infinity) Sure, they’d eat fresh berries all day every day, but I’m not made of money so they can’t.
I need to get healthy fruits and veggies into them because a diet made strictly of hot dogs, watermelon, corn on the cob, and ice cream is only good for so long. With our summer schedules, I’m often not home thinking about dinner until ten minutes after my kids tell me they are starving for dinner, so perfectly square meals are out. With this in mind, I try to get their veggies in early in the day.
I have a two-pronged approach:
1) I grow a small, selective vegetable garden. Generally, I only grow things that my kids enjoy eating straight out of the garden. Namely: snap peas, string beans, and carrots. I’ll ask my kids to check to see if we have enough beans to collect for dinner. They then stand in the garden and eat all the beans, and report back that we don’t. “Oh, really? That’s too bad. Do we have any peas?” A few minutes later, “Crunch, crunch, crunch. Nope!” Done. Kids have consumed their veggies and I don’t have to worry about it again.
2) Smoothies! In one fell swoop I can fill them up with healthy fruits and vegetables and then not think twice about the fact that we’re having breakfast for dinner again. Smoothies are extremely forgiving- they don’t require any measuring, particular kitchen prowess, or exactitude- and my kids love them.
6 Tips for Better Smoothies
1. A good blender is key!
- I love my Ninja blender. Before it came into my life, I didn’t know one could love a blender. I’ve had joe-schmo blenders before, but this thing is different, better, and worth every penny. I can put such a giant handful of spinach into this blender and know that it will be blended into undetectable smithereens within any smoothie. Trust me, this blender is ah-mazing.
- I usually keep a large container of fresh baby spinach in my fridge so it’s easy to grab a handful to throw into every smoothie. Just in case, I keep bags of chopped spinach in the freezer which also can be easily (and stealthily) added to smoothies. You can also portion out and freeze fresh spinach if you happen to have a ton of it.
3. Frozen fruit
- You can buy large bags of frozen mixed berries in the supermarket. I avoid the bags that contain strawberries because they are often huge and don’t have much flavor, whereas the raspberry, blackberry, blueberry combos provide a powerful punch of nutrition and flavor. Try frozen peaches or mangoes too! Did you go fruit picking and come home with 12 lbs of blueberries? Freeze them!
- Bananas provide a wonderful texture for smoothies and help make them more filling. Have bananas getting too ripe on your counter? Peel and freeze them. A frozen banana is no challenge to the Ninja blender! I always have a bag of peeled bananas in my freezer, which is handy for when the fruit bowl runs low.
5. Greek yogurt
- Packed full of protein, greek yogurt is a great addition to smoothies. You can avoid having to add any additional sweeteners to your smoothies if you start with a base of flavored greek yogurt. My kids’ favorite is Honey Vanilla. (I buy the full fat version for my kids because they need the extra energy, but low fat or fat free versions can easily be substituted.)
6. Get Creative!
- Need a smoothie that will stick to their bones a bit longer? Add a tablespoon of peanut butter.
- Want to get some healthy fiber and oils into your kiddos? Add some chia or flax seeds.
- Only have plain yogurt on hand? Add some honey or juice for sweetness.
- Add ice to thicken up a smoothie, milk to thin it out.
- Add any fruits you have on hand, fresh or frozen.
- Make freezer smoothie packs – in individual ziplock bags add your favorite combos: a handful of spinach, a peeled banana (or half), a handful of berries or sliced peaches, etc. Simply add the freezer pack to some yogurt and milk in the blender and voila! Your kids’ daily dose of fruits and veggies in one delicious drink!
Between my garden and my blender, I know my kids are getting enough fruits and veggies every day no matter how unstructured our summer gets. How do you make sure your kids get the nutrients they need, assuming they need more than just watermelon and corn on the cob? Do your kids willingly eat veggies? Do you hide them? Or do you use dietary supplements to make sure their nutritional needs are met?
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KnowYourOTCs educational program which has provided me compensation to write about the safe and appropriate use of OTCs. All content, views, and opinions are my own.