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8 reasons to make a green smoothie for your kids

July 22, 2015

As a Registered Dietitian for Teen Xpress, I work with many teenagers who are hesitant to try new foods. My goal is to introduce them to delicious but also nutritious foods to help improve eating habits. I teach a nutrition class, called Healthy Me, to select middle schools around Orange County. This class is a great opportunity for me to introduce teenagers to different types and combinations of foods. During one of my classes, I set up a smoothie bar for the students. In addition to the students’ individual smoothies, I decided to make a “different” one for them to try. They had a difficult time guessing what made the smoothie green. After a few minutes of guessing, I finally broke the news to them; they just drank spinach! Many of them were surprised that they enjoyed the smoothie even though they dislike spinach. One student looked up at me and said, “I really like this Ms. Holly. I am going to put spinach in my smoothie from now on!”. It is amazing how sampling different foods can impact future eating habits.

Since this green smoothie was such a big hit with my class, I decided to share with you some reasons why you might want to make a green smoothie for your kids. Oh, and I also included my recipe for you to try. Enjoy!

Why the Green Monster Smoothie Is the Way to Go

  1. Green smoothies are incredibly nutrient dense- they are jam packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, antioxidants, water, and especially fiber. Fiber helps aid with digestion and helps promote a feeling of fullness, which in the long run curbs our appetite. Our body cannot digest fiber; this is what makes fiber so important and healthy.
  2. Convenient to make on the go, especially before school or even as an afternoon snack. Pre-making baggies of frozen fruits can help make the breakfast or snack preparation quick and less hectic. Either fresh or frozen fruit is a great choice, especially since the nutritional value is the same. Planning ahead can make this smoothie feel like a breeze. Tip: Buy in-season fruits, which are often cheaper, and then freeze them for future use.
  3. New and improved breakfast for the summer. Kick the typical pop-tarts, waffles, and sweet cereal to the curb and try something just as sweet but far more delicious and nutritious. Trying new breakfast foods can be fun and also very exciting.
  4. One successful way to add greens to a diet is to sneak it in. The best part about adding spinach to a smoothie is that the taste is not altered. This smoothie is packed with so much flavor that kids will forget they are actually eating spinach. Spinach is a nutrition powerhouse; it’s packed with vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin K (helps with blood clotting), Vitamin A (promotes good vision), and Folate (helps the body make new cells). Important: If an individual is on a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin), it is very important to consult your doctor before adding additional vitamin K to your diet.
  5.  Adding bone-building calcium in the form of Greek yogurt will give the green smoothie a creamy texture. Our teeth and bones contain the most calcium in our body, and because of this, teens should make a goal of eating three servings of dairy every day. In addition to calcium, Greek yogurt provides an excellent source of protein which promotes the feeling of fullness and also proper muscle development. Tip: Greek yogurt is often better tolerated than milk for individuals with lactose intolerance.
  6.  Vitamin C is essential for the growth and repair of tissues. Without adequate vitamin C, we might have difficulty with wound healing and also fighting infections. This smoothie will give you the boost of vitamin C that the body needs. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which means it helps protect our body from cell damage. Eating high vitamin C foods can even help our body absorb iron better. Iron is a mineral that helps build red blood cells, which supplies oxygen to our body.
  7.  Will help children, teens, and adults meet the recommended five fruits and vegetables a day. Not very often do we consume vegetables for breakfast or even as a snack, but this smoothie will steer us in the right direction. Keep the whole family on the right track by introducing them to vegetables for breakfast. Fruits and vegetables provide us with key vitamins and minerals that are important for proper growth and development.
  8.  Green smoothies are definitely a hit with children and teens, especially when they are able to assist in the preparation. Have children and teens wash fresh fruit and place them in individual baggies for freezing. They also enjoy measuring out the correct measurements of yogurt, spinach, and the rest of the ingredients. This is a great educational opportunity by teaching them how to read a recipe and also learning about measuring. 

Green Monster Smoothie

Prep Time: 10 minutesReady In: 10 minutesServings: 2

Ingredients:

1 medium banana cut in chunks1 cup green grapes, frozen8 ounces of vanilla Greek yogurt1/2 apple, chopped1 ½ cups of fresh spinach, chopped1/4 cup of pineapple chunks

Directions:

  1. Place yogurt, spinach, apples, grapes, banana, and pineapple in blender
  2. Cover, and blend until smooth in texture
  3. Serve and enjoy

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