Today’s post is not about sharing a huge secret or a magical way to get your kids to eat when they are on hunger strike. I’m not going to pretend that a smoothie will solve all your kitchen problems and keep you from having to cook dinner this Friday night. I am; however, going to highlight the utility of “the smoothie “ and hope that you will find them as useful as I have over the last few years.
I have never been a big fan of breakfast. For whatever reason, I did not enjoy eating cereal or oatmeal and never really found breakfast foods all that appealing. During graduate school, I got in the habit of eating a blended smoothie for breakfast. I did not own a proper blender, and instead, I used an immersion blender and a big cup to blend together milk, yogurt, fruit, and protein powder. I enjoyed drinking my breakfast on the way to work and found that I was full until lunch-time. During my post-doc years, I not only graduated to using a bender but I also graduated to making smoothies for my husband. The heat (we lived in Arizona at this time) combined with the fact that I road my bike to work, made drinking a cool smoothie for breakfast ideal. I drank them for years and never got bored.
As many of you know, the protein requirements for pregnant moms of multiples is quite high (eating between 80-100 grams of protein is suggested). Food aversions, nausea, heart-burn, plus the myriad of other symptoms that one can experience during pregnancy can make it hard to ingest enough calories, not to mention protein. I found “the smoothie” a great way to add protein to my diet. In fact, I found that the days I did not drink a smoothie, I landed nowhere near the 80-100 gram protein goal. For me, it was an easy way to get food in my belly and in the rare case it made a reappearance during “morning sickness”, it was not the worst thing in the world to revisit.
For my kids (before age 1)
My kids were breastfeed until 1, but I was keen on them learning how to use a straw and how to drink from a cup around 11 months. By this age, they had tried yogurt but not milk. I found smoothies made from yogurt, bananas, blueberries, and a little water to be a great way for them to learn how to drink from a straw cup as well as a great way for them to start getting some solid foods. One we started to wean off breast milk, this smoothie was a great drink to have around during snack time.
The toddler years
It is still amazing to me how often my guys are unwilling to eat a regular meal in their highchairs. Whether it is my fault (e.g. because I booked a doctors appointment to close to the time they get up in the morning) or if it is their own doing (e.g. teething, not hungry, it’s Wednesday, insert other random reasons here), sometimes you need a food option that will fill up your kids but that’s portable too. “The smoothie” fits this bill nicely. If I need an on-the-go meal or something to feed my guys when they are clearly having trouble chewing foods, I will make a hearty smoothie for their enjoyment. I start with milk, add yogurt, frozen fruit (bananas, berries, cherries, peaches just to name a few), a small handful of spinach or kale, a carrot, and them I blend away. These days, I use a Blendtec high-powered blender. This blended makes adding vegetables to smoothies very easy because they basically disappear into the drink perfectly. The combinations are endless and are only limited to your imagination and the contents of your refrigerator.
I find that I don’t make smoothies everyday like I used to, but I keep the idea in the back of my mind and pull it out when needed. They are a great way to pack in some calories and nutrition when you need it most. Happy blending.