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smoothies- not just for “hiding” veggies anymore!

Posted by on Sep 15, 2011 in Blog Posts | 19 comments

I don’t know why, but I have resisted smoothies. I suppose part of it is I had a really crappy blender that would smell like burning rubber, and “recipes” for smoothies always seem to emphasize low-fat and hiding veggies. It was more of a psychological rejection of the typical “smoothie” I think…

Anyway, I saw that Cuisinart food processors were 40% off and I had a 10% off coupon for Crate and Barrel, so I treated myself to it and bought some frozen fruit too. (I had also wanted to make some hopeFULLS -see below- but didn’t have the right machine…)

We have struggled to find breakfast foods since M is not a huge fan of toast (we often eat toast and peanut butter and jelly, fruit, milk) oh, and she doesn’t eat peanut butter or eggs 9 times out of ten or pancakes, bacon, sausage… Really she is an adventurous eater, but breakfast is not our easiest meal in terms of balance. We’ve done OK with Greek yogurt, and the German breakfast tradition of cold-cuts and cheeses as an option helps with fat and protein. We drink 2% milk, so that helps too, but we had limited options. I’m always looking to add variety, so we experimented with smoothies, and what a hit! We all savor these in the mornings.

Our fave recipe is basically this:

2% Greek plain yogurt (You can use whole fat if you are trying to increase fat intake)
1/2 cup of 2% milk or more (depending on if you want soft-serve of milk-shake…)
frozen fruit (always 1 frozen banana for sweetness) and a variety of low-seed fruits. Today was strawberries, blueberries and cherries.
honey to taste

M had hers and some cereal this morning, D and I ate toast with peanut butter too. I can’t seem to think of this as a “meal.” I really need to chew something to feel satisfied…

We also include mangoes and occasionally peaches (we have not noticed a froth as mentioned below, but ours are always frozen.) I look forward to experimenting with others! It’s fun that M gets to pick out the fruit combo and pours in the chunks of frozen fruit and the honey and yogurt. This is also a great idea for folks with food allergies as there are endless possibilities!  I’m not opposed to adding spinach or other veggies, but I would say be careful that you aren’t sneaking or hiding them, as once caught-your cautious eater will not trust a smoothie again!  One day, I will try spinach, but we finished it all in our stir-fry last night…

I posted about this on FB, and here are some reader faves…

• Apple juice, frozen berries from costco, and vanilla yogurt…..
• Our fave is Almond milk, banana, blueberries and spinach. The blueberries disguise the color and taste of spinach. 🙂
The HopeFULL Company Vanilla almond milk, canned or baked pumpkin puree, creamy peanut butter (or almond butter) and ground cinnamon (the Pumpkin Pie HopeFULL!) 🙂
• Mango, strawberry and orange juice with some whey protein powder!
• plain yogurt, a big handful of frozen bananas and a tablespoon or two of frozen spinach. Tastes like spring and has a lovely mint green color. It is my baby’s absolute favorite food of all time.
• Milk, banana and cocoa
• i use tropical fruit juice, frozen strawberries and pineapple, and half a fresh banana. can add a few spinach leaves (you won’t taste them) or yogurt! i tried a lot of different kinds, but i don’t like all the seeds from blueberries and raspberries, and peaches or mangoes make it really foamy (like spit… yuck)
SPOON Foundation : smoothies with coconut milk or yogurt are great — especially if you add in some crushed up almonds, sunflower seeds or kale for added nutrition/calories

Thanks readers!

We like the consistency of almost a soft-serve. It tastes creamy from the yogurt, and we all get a nice bit of protein, fat and carbs and it feels like a real treat. We use the food processor (I always end up above the “liquid” line, so it drips a little, but it’s been fine.) I tried a blender, but it didn’t rotate the food enough with the thickness we did.

On another note, I also used my food processor to make these hopeFULL pops for a friend going through cancer therapy. It was what inspired me to make our smoothies. These pops are a great idea for kids and adults who need some extra nutrition but for whom eating is painful or unpleasant. The gift pack came with some great recipes. I know they are working on a new product, so I’ll keep you posted! My photos do not do them justice.  The materials are lovely to work with, and as you know, I am a “feeder” in times of crisis, so this felt like just the right way for me to help. (One quick point. When I make food for people who are ill, I don’t let M help me except with extreme vigilance. Little ones might sneeze or put their finger in a nose or other orifice and touch the food. Being extra-cautious about hygiene for someone who is ill and can’t afford to get the latest cold or stomach bug is really important…)

What are your favorite smoothies or blended treats? Do you also find you need to “chew” food to feel satisfied? What blender/food processor do you use?

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  1. Katy

    We love smoothies and sometimes I do add veggies (like spinach–actually, you can add quite a bit without changing the flavor at all). One thing I learned is that if you put in the spinach and liquid first, and grind that up, THEN add the frozen fruit, the spinach is blended enough that it doesn’t give a weird consistency.

    I can see the trouble, potentially, with “hiding” veggies, and I think my kids do know the spinach is there, because it is a different color, but I find it’s hard for me to get enough veggies in my own diet (even though I like them) and I like being able to sometimes get some in with my morning meal.

    Also, occasionally I’ve bought those smoothie packets (Java Juice or whatever brand), and one thing I think makes them different is that the yogurt is frozen so it adds a more “frozen” consistency to the smoothie. I haven’t done it yet, but I plan to do some yogurt ice cubes to see how that changes the ones we make on our own. Probably too much trouble to do all the time, but every now and then could be fun!

    Usually, though, we just do fruit/yogurt 🙂 And, in the summer we did freeze the smoothie just to eat ourselves and it made a great snack!

  2. unscrambled

    I know that this may be a too late thing, but the blender that smells like rubber burning often needs a new blade. New ones for my oster cost like 4 bucks (including shipping) off Amazon, and are well worth it.

    W/r/t smoothies: I have a hard time feeling full from them unless I cram them with fibrous stuff (green vegetables, chia seeds, etc) and fatty stuff (coconut oil, peanut butter, etc). THEN, I tend to get overfull, because I am a fast drinker. So, even though I enjoy them, I don’t drink them as much any more, because…well, I’m better at judging solids. Maybe I should start measuring a bit more so I can get a sense of how much works.

    • katja

      It was a really cheap one, and it smelled from the beginning, but who knows, it might have helped! I too need to chew something to feel full, and don’t rely on the smoothies for a meal. Keep me posted, but don’t feel like it “should” be anything. That ruins all the fun!

  3. G

    Oh, I love smoothies! I have one nearly every morning of the week, usually with a banana and berries and a little juice or yogurt and some whey protein powder– I feel like the extra protein really helps it to “stick with me” until lunchtime. It’s a great, quick breakfast to pop into the blender.

  4. maggiemunkee

    thank you SO MUCH for linking to HopeFULLS. i have lupus, and before i was diagnosed i was terribly ill. nauseous, puking, dehydrated to the tune of losing 60lbs in about six weeks. i was lucky if i could eat three spoonfuls of rice in a day. i would have LOVED something like this. i am telling my rheumatologist about this site, and would be thrilled if she told her patients. i will tell my hematologist, too, because he works in the cancer wing of the hospital.

  5. Samantha C

    I’ve been trying to get myself to do smoothies in the morning…I’m really self-conscious about using the blender while my housemate is sleeping though, so I haven’t actually done it yet. All I did so far was mix the protein powder I bought with a cup of milk by spoon (I kind of liked it, tasted more like a really concentrated soy milk, sort of nutty, definitely palatable)

    I find that when I have to wake up before I prefer to, my stomach is all out of whack. Having started a job recently that wants me up as early as 7, when I’m used to sleeping until 10 or 11, and knowing I won’t be able to take a break and eat lunch until much, much later, I’ve been trying to figure out how to force myself to eat. I’m often MUCH thirstier than I am hungry when I get up, which was why drink-meals are a good idea for me.

    • katja

      Samantha, that’s considerate, and a bummer. You mention things that lots of people don’t think about, like natural body rhythms, huger rhythms and roomies! I’m glad you are finding something that works for you! Sorry you have a workplace that is not very flexible. I remember that was really hard during my training. I would cram granola bars and nuts into my mouth during “bathroom” breaks between surgeries in medical school…

      • Samantha C

        oh, my workplace is actually really good about people grabbing snacks if it’s not busy, it’s just knowing that I can’t have a full-sized meal for a good 5 or 6 hours after breakfast. It’s not bad when I wake up hungry enough for peanut butter or hummus on a bagel, or something else hearty enough, but it can be kind of hellish knowing that I can’t stomach anything but cereal, and I’m not going to be able to eat more than a granola bar until later

        • katja

          i get anxious too. I have found that cashews and milk seem to hold me over pretty good in those situations. Not easy though for sure!

  6. Jess

    My four year old LOVES making smoothies; he loves it even more now that his baby sister (8.5 months) can drink/eat them as well. A standard mix is yogurt, frozen blueberries and overripe bananas (with or without almond milk or orange juice). But we never make exactly the same smoothie twice. We put our smoothies in popsicle molds all summer long as well– my kid loves that he can make his own popsicles and I love that I can control the ingredients. We generally make them in the blender, but I have a mini-Cuisinart (2 cup) food processor as well. And, FWIW, no one in my house (including my son) considers a smoothie a meal (and we always serve out smoothies in 8 oz glasses anyway)… it’s always a snack or a supplement to breakfast.

    I use the mini-Cuisinart to make baby food as well; even though my baby is eating more chunky foods now, it still helps to give our dinners a whirl in the food processor before giving them to her. I inadvertently discovered that my four year old will try just about any vegetable if he sees the baby eating it AND that he likes many vegetables better in puree form. He’s a pretty adventuresome eater as it is, but prefers raw veggies to cooked, which usually means I make salad every night or set out a plate of crudite which he eats instead of the cooked kale. But he’ll eat just about any cooked veg mixed with mashed potatoes: cauliflower and mashed potatoes, spinach and mashed potatoes, beets and mashed potatoes to name three (all started out as “baby food” that he tried and liked). BTW, this is not “sneaking”– he knows I’m doing it and says he just likes it better pureed. I would never have guessed this since he doesn’t seem to have textural sensitivities in general.

    • katja

      I love that you and your son are discovering new things with the baby! Maybe pureed, thick, soups will be a big hit for the whole family! And, you’re right, it’s not sneaking! Just don’t forget to keep serving them in other ways. Fun!

  7. Twistie

    It’s funny, but I never think to make myself a smoothie at home. I’ve got a great blender and a food processor and regular deliveries of fresh, organic fruit to my front door… but somehow I never get the fruit into the blender. I think I shall go out and get some yogurt today so that I can make one tomorrow with the yummy cantaloupe and pluots I happen to have on hand right this minute. Yum.

    • katja

      let me know how it goes! I have not yet tried cantaloupe, I wonder how the more watery or juicy fruits will work!

  8. Kate S.

    Thanks for the link to the HopeFULL company. What a great idea. I wish I’d known about them when I was pregnant, I lost 11 pounds in a month from “morning sickness”, and spent time in the hospital on iv fluids. It would have been great to be able to nutrition boost that way. (Cause let me tell you Ensure, no matter how cold it is, is the nastiest stuff on the planet, and I wouldn’t be able to consume it on a good day, let alone when I was nauseus anyway.)

    I often use Sun Rype Fruit and Veggie juice in our smoothies (that’s the juice we drink anyway in our house) it has lots of great veggies in it , kale etc … Also, pasturized egg white can add a protein boost, and it doesn’t add any flavour or texture once mixed in with the fruit/yogurt/juice.

    • katja

      thanks! Great advice! Another great group to give hopeFULLS to if you have friends who suffer with morning-sickness…

  9. Hayley

    i use the magic bullet. it’s AMAZING. i wouldn’t bother making smoothies without it because of all the mess. with the bullet it makes it right in the cup you’re going to drink out of! and even comes with a lid.

  10. Ines

    Great post, Katja. Good recipes too! Thank you.


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